North Korea Finally Frees Foreign Pastor After Years In Detention

North Korea Finally Frees Foreign Pastor After Years In Detention

PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of - Staff from the Prime Minister's Office is in Pyongyang, North Korea, to discuss the case of imprisoned Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim.

North Korea had accused Lim, who served in one of the largest churches in Canada, of attempting to overthrow the regime.

Led by the national security adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the delegation arrived in North Korea on Tuesday.

Lim, North Korea's longest-held western prisoner in decades, was serving a life sentence of hard labor after being convicted of crimes against the state in December 2015.

He met with the Swedish ambassador earlier this year and met Canadian officials in December.

Lim has been suffering from high blood pressure and stomach pains, according to letters to his friends.

According to local media reports, Hyeon's family has become very concerned over the pastor's well-being since the death of Otto Warmbier in June.

His church had supported a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage in North Korea since it began a mission there in 1996, when the country was in the grip of a starvation that killed thousands of people. He was medically evacuated to the U.S. on a military plane the following day after serving prison in North Korea for 17 months.

Lim's Toronto-area church has said Lim visited North Korea more than 100 times since 1997 and helped set up an orphanage and nursing home.

Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center assessing Warmbier's condition on his return concluded that the USA citizen had suffered significant brain damage and no signs of botulism were detected.

North Korea is ranked #1 on Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.

The pastor was reportedly involved in projects linked to some associates of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's purged uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was executed in 2013 for treason.

CNN interviewed the pastor in January 2016, finding he was forced to work eight hours a day, six days a week, in a camp where he had never seen another inmate.