Released from North Korea, the pastor is en route to Canada

Released from North Korea, the pastor is en route to Canada

A source who shared the photo said they believed the flight may have contained the Canadian citizen Lim Hyeon-soo, who was released on Wednesday by North Korea in a surprise move announced by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

According to the official announcement, the Canadian citizen was released on sick bail in line with the decision of the Central Court of North Korea.

Mark Blinch / Reuters A man puts his hand on a Korean Bible during a prayer service for Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim, inside a chapel at the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, March 9, 2015.

A delegation led by Canada's national security adviser and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's intelligence adviser, Daniel Jean, is reported to have negotiated with North Korean officials to secure the pastor's release.

CNN notes that Lim's family "stepped up calls for his release since the death of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier in June".

Three Americans are now detained in North Korea, as well as six South Korean nationals.

The missionary was also found guilty of having carried out subversive activities with the intention of damaging the dignity of the supreme leadership and the social system of North Korea.

"The Government of Canada was actively engaged on Mr. Lim's case at all levels".

In July, there were reports that the United States was going to ban its citizens from travelling to North Korea following the death of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier who passed away in June 2017 after 17 months in North Korean captivity.

The measure is part of the new round of sanctions adopted on August 5 by the United Nations Security Council in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile activities in clear violation of previous U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Lim's own health was of concern to his family members, who had said the pastor needed medication to manage his blood pressure. In particular, I want to thank Sweden, our protecting power in North Korea, for assisting us.

He was detained in February 2015 while on a humanitarian mission in Rajin, North Korea. In December of that year, Lim was put on trial and sentenced to indefinite hard labor.

Lim's release comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after US President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with "fire and fury" on Tuesday and Pyongyang said it was considering a military strike against the US territory of Guam.

Lim's release coincides with a dramatic rise in tensions with North Korea as volatile leader Kim Jong-Un said he is considering plans to make "an enveloping fire" around the US territory of Guam, which is home to a large American military base and about 163,000 people.

This is no doubt a relief for not only Lim's immediate family and friends, but the congregation he ministers over.

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