Mississauga Church Pastor Released from North Korea

A Mississauga man who has been in detention in North Korea for the past two and a half years is finally coming home.

Hyeon Soon Lim, the senior pastor at Light Presbyterian Church in Malton, has been conducting humanitarian work in ‘the Hermit Kingdom’ for years until around 2015, when he was arrested and charged with attempts to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un and sentenced to life imprisonment at a North Korean labour camp.

But according to North Korean state news media KCNA, the regime announced Lim is being released this week on compassionate grounds, aka “sick bail”, due to his weakening health, according to Lim’s son, James Lim. A plane carrying senior Canadian officials, a medical doctor, and a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was dispatched earlier this week to Pyongyang at the ‘last minute’, according to a Lim family spokesperson.

This is no doubt a relief for not only Lim’s immediate family and friends, but the congregation he ministers over. A statement from Lim’s church posted on Facebook expressed the church’s relief over the news of their pastor’s release:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued this statement on behalf of the Government of Canada:

Today, I am pleased and relieved to confirm that Pastor Lim has been released from jail in North Korea and that he will soon be reunited with his family and friends in Canada.

The Government of Canada was actively engaged on Mr. Lim’s case at all levels. In particular, I want to thank Sweden, our protecting power in North Korea, for assisting us.

This week, a Canadian government delegation led by Daniel Jean, my Special Envoy, traveled to Pyongyang, North Korea, to discuss Pastor Lim’s case.

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.

Operational security considerations prevent us from discussing the matter further.

I ask that the family’s wish for privacy be respected.”

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer responded as well with this tweet:

While Lim and his family and friends are just relieved that he is now back in Canada, one cannot ignore the timing of his release, as latest developments between North Korea and the United States have been at an all time low and getting extremely tense.

There was the case of the American Otto Warmbier, who was also detained in North Korea after attempting to steal a propaganda poster from a Pyongyang hotel. Warmbier fell into a coma while under their imprisonment. Although Warmbier was returned to the US two months ago, he died while still comatose less than a week after returning to American soil. Some US officials have blamed North Korea for his death.

And of course there is the recent rhetoric between U.S President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un after Kim threatened to fly missiles into the island of Guam, a United States Overseas Territory, and Trump’s response was anything but restrained, to say the least.

We should be thankful that during this turmoil in the international order between two highly volatile leaders with destructive weapons at their disposal, a Canadian from Mississauga who was detained managed to come home safe and sound.

Let’s wish Pastor Lim well on his road to recovery from his ordeal.

Photo from files from CNN

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