Canadian delegation in North Korea to discuss jailed pastor

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The seriousness of Pastor Lim's situation became even more clear after the death of U.S. student Otto Warmbier earlier this year, after his release from North Korean imprisonment.

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.

Charges against him included harming the dignity of the supreme leadership, trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system, disseminating negative propaganda about the North to overseas Koreans, and helping American and South Korean efforts to help people defect from the north.

The prime minister's spokesman Cameron Ahmad said the government considered Lim's health of "utmost importance" but did not give more details.

Two and a half years after he was detained in Pyongyang, a Mississauga-based pastor of Korean descent has finally been released.

The pastor had been arrested in January 2015 and accused of acts subversive against the north Korean regime, what the canadian authorities have always strongly denied.

This April 15, 2017 picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 16, 2017 shows Korean People's ballistic missiles being displayed through Kim Il-Sung square during a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung.

It's not known what persuaded the North Koreans to do the decent thing in this case and allow Lim to return home to Canada.

United States travel ban on N. Korea to take effect September 1
However, Mr Tillerson took a more diplomatic approach, saying that " only the North Koreans are to blame for this situation ". But he sought to reassure the isolated regime that it does not need a nuclear arsenal to defend itself from a USA attack.

"Operational security considerations prevent us from discussing the matter further", he added, asking the media to respect the family's privacy.

After intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests of missiles capable of reaching the United States mainland were carried out by North Korea last week, the UN imposed its "most stringent" restrictions so far with the intention of cutting almost $1bn out of the country's export revenue.

But they were thrilled with the prime minister's statement.

"Strategically, North Korea perhaps hopes to engender some goodwill from Canada as tensions rise", said Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat in China.

North Korea has in the past attracted the attention of Washington and visits by high-profile Americans with the detention and release of US citizens.

Lim, who has a wife and son living in the Toronto area, started the Light Korean Presbyterian Church almost three decades ago, shortly after he emigrated from South Korea.

North Korea is still holding three Americans.

It's good to see at least one bright spot amid the sound and fury of the rhetorical standoff over North Korea.