Canadian Christians are celebrating the release of a pastor who hadd been held captive in North Korea since 2015.
Rumours began a few days ago that 62-year-old Hyeon Soo Lim was to be released and confirmation appeared to come from North Korea's state news agency.
The decision to release pastor Lim comes just hours after a high-level Canadian delegation, led by the prime minister's national security adviser, had arrived in the country in the hope of intervening in his case, as Christian Today reported yesterday.
The Globe and Mail reports that pastor Lim's church – Light Korean Presbyterian church in Mississauga, Ontario – was 'ecstatic' at the news of his release.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the news and said, 'The Government of Canada was actively engaged on Mr Lim's case at all levels.'
His statement continued, 'Pastor Lim's health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the Government of Canada, and we are working to ensure that he receives any required medical attention.' That was all he could reveal at the moment,' Operational security considerations prevent us from discussing the matter further,' the prime minister said.
The seriousness of Pastor Lim's situation became even more clear after the death of US student Otto Warmbier earlier this year, after his release from North Korean imprisonment. Pastor Lim is reported to be in poor health.
President Trump has dialled up the rhetoric against North Korea in recent days, saying he would respond to North Korean aggression with, 'fire and fury and, frankly, power the likes of which the world has never seen before'.
Pastor Lim's church, which is around 3,000 strong, has supported various missions to North Korea. He is of South Korean origin. He has made over 100 trips to the North since 1997 and helps to run nursing home and orphanages there.
But in February 2015, he was arrested and eventually found guilty of trying to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un. He has been in captivity ever since, in spite of poor health.
Raymond Cho, a member of parliament who knows Pastor Lim said he was relieved at his release. 'I believe in the power of prayer, he said, 'I prayed for him every night, twice a night.'
Another politician who had campaigned for his release, Senator Yonah Martin said, 'I had a great sense of relief but it took me by surprise only because it had been so long.'