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Pastor Lim Released as North Korea’s Longest-Held Western Prisoner in Decades

08/09/2017 Washington D.C. – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Hyeon-Soo Lim, a Korean-Canadian pastor at the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, Canada who was sentenced to life imprisonment by the North Korean Supreme Court, has been freed after two and a half years in detention.

News of Lim’s release comes soon after a high-level Canadian delegation, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s own national security advisor, arrived in the country in hopes of intervening in his case.

Lim went missing in late January 2015 while taking part in a humanitarian mission in Rajin, North Korea. His efforts included founding a nursing home, an orphanage, and a nursery with support from his church. In July of the same year, Lim resurfaced when he publicly confessed to crimes against the state and started serving a life sentence in December 2015.

According to the North Korea’s state news agency, KCNA, “He had been under the penalty of indefinite hard labor as he conducted hostile deeds against the DPRK.”  Lim was released “on sick bail according to the decision of the Central Court of the DPRK on August 9, 2017 from the humanitarian viewpoint.

During his time in captivity, pastor Lim complained of stomach pain and high blood pressure in letters to his loved ones in Canada. While his family was banned from visiting during his imprisonment, they were able to send blood pressure medication via the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang.

We are relieved to hear that Reverend Lim is on his way home to finally reunite with his family and meet his granddaughter for the first time,” family spokeswoman, Lisa Pak, said in statement to CNN.

“This is a truly joyous occasion,” Suzanne Scholte, chair of North Korea Freedom Coalition, told ICC. “Lim was imprisoned simply because he served the one true God and wanted Him to be known to the North Korean people. While Pastor Lim’s treatment is a reminder of the atrocious and evil nature of the DPRK regime, it should also be a reminder of how vigilant that regime works to keep their population literally and spiritually ‘in the dark’ as the Christian faith is seen as a direct attack on Kim Jong Un, whom they are brainwashed to worship as their god.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “While we at International Christian Concern rejoice at the news of Pastor Lim’s release, we continue to call upon the US government and international community to press on North Korea to release the three Americans who still remain imprisoned – Pastor Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Hak-song. Nobody should be held captive and given a life sentence because of their religious beliefs, especially in a country with a deplorable record on its treatment of detainees and one that is ranked as the worst country in the world in regards to Christian persecution.

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