North Korea has released a Canadian pastor who was imprisoned for allegedly attempting to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un on humanitarian grounds, state media reported Wednesday.
Rim Hyon Su, also known as Hyeon Soo Lim, was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor in Dec. 2015. His release came a day after Canadian officials said a delegation led by the country’s national security adviser had traveled to North Korea to discuss his jailing, Canada’s Global News website reported.
Three Americans are currently detained in North Korea.
“Rim Hyon Su, a Canadian civilian, was released on sick bail according to the decision of the Central Court of the DPRK on August 9, 2017, from the humanitarian viewpoint,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported, referring to the country by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
No further information was provided.
South Korea-born Lim’s church, in the Toronto area, said he visited the North — where he helped to establish a nursing home and an orphanage — more than 100 times since 1997.
His release came as relations between Pyongyang and Washington deteriorated further after President Trump vowed to respond to North Korea “with fire and fury”following the latter’s threat to launch a missile strike on the Pacific island of Guam, a U.S. territory.
The still-detained American men — Kim Hak-Song, also known as Jin Xue Song; Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-Duk; and Kim Dong-Chul — were described as being in good health after a recent visit by Joseph Yun, the State Department’s top official on North Korea, the Washington Post reported in June.
That month Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was convicted of stealing a political banner from a Pyongyang hotel in 2016 and sentenced to 15 years with hard labor, was released from imprisonment and returned to the U.S. in a coma. He died in a Cincinnati hospital six days later.
His family and others blamed North Korea for his condition, but the North denied it cruelly treated or tortured Warmbier. The North had said that shortly after his conviction, Warmbier contracted botulism, a bacteria commonly associated with food poisoning, and was given a sleeping pill.
Lim’s family had become more concerned for his welfare since Warmbier’s death, Reuters reported. Last week, the U.S. State Department said it would ban U.S. nationals from traveling to North Korea from September.