Canadian Pastor Freed from North Korea: Healthy

EDS NOTE A DEC.16, 2015 FILE PHOTO Hyeon Soo Lim, center, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, is escorted to his sentencing in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. A Canadian pastor serving a life sentence in North Korea says he spends eight hours a day, six days a week, toiling in a labour camp, with no contact with the outside world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Jon Chol Jin
JON CHOL JIN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Canadian Pastor, Hyeon Soo Lim, freed after two and a half years in a North Korean prison, is healthy, a Lim family representative says.

Lim family representative Lisa Pak says, “He is not in critical condition, and healthy, considering what he’s been through.”

Concerns and reports about Rev. Lim’s health have been sketchy since his release, and understandable since American student, Otto Warmbier, was released this past June after 17 months in a North Korean prison. Warmbier later died in a Cincinnati hospital where he had been receiving medical treatment.

Lisa Pak, Lim’s family representative says hearing the news of Warmbier’s passing was of great concern to the family in light of Rev. Lim’s release.

“The family, was obviously, greatly concerned and felt the urgency to get him out. But we also know that God is Sovereign, so we pray for peace of mind and peace of heart,” Lim’s family representative says. “In light of Rev. Lim’s release, while we rejoice at his homecoming, I think we are always mindful of the fact that not everyone get this kind of ending, and that the ordeal continues for other families. It’s both humbling and encouraging.”

Rev. Lim serves as Senior Pastor of the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga – one of the largest churches in Canada and risked his life to go to North Korea to build orphanages, nursing homes, and farms.

The life changing experience of being sentenced to life in prison with hard labour in a North Korean prison has not shaken Rev. Lim’s faith, Pak says, “Pastor Lim has written poems and hymns during his time there. The family and church were given copies of them. I would imagine like many people of faith who have been jailed or detained [under false circumstances], God was with them – refining and deepening their faith in only the way that solitude with God can.”

An earlier statement issued by the family expressed relief and hope to see Pastor Lim back home, safely.

“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. We are grateful to all parties involved; Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Freeland, and all the public servants in Global Affairs who have worked behind the scenes with North Korean authorities to bring Reverend Lim home.”

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, confirmed Lim’s release and said he would “soon be reunited with his family and friends in Canada.”

Officials say Rev. Lim has arrived in Japan on a flight from Pyongyang International Airport.

The flight was headed for U.S. air force base in Yokota, near Toyko, North Korea (NK) News reports, but Rev. Lim’s family representative could not confirm.

Rev. Lim’s release comes after North Korea has been under a microscope of international scrutiny and attention over its nuclear-missile program. Tensions were further heated after U.S. President Donald Trump sent a stern message in response to North Korea’s continued nuclear-missile pursuits, saying it would meet threats, “with fire and fury the world has never seen.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cooled rhetoric of possible military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea telling reporters President Trump’s comments were only, “a strong message to North Korea in language that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un would understand.” Tillerson went on to assure the American people that they can sleep at night knowing the U.S. will protect themselves against any attacks from North Korea. This is cool comfort for the people of Guam though as North Korea said it was, “reviewing plans to strike U.S. military targets with medium-range ballistic missiles.”

Some view Rev. Lim’s release at this particular time as a way for North Korea to send an olive branch to the international community.

When asked how the Lim family interprets this timing, Pak says, “We are very grateful to the Canadian government and their integrity in handling the case. I know there has been a lot of talk about the nuclear program and even threats but, honestly, the Canadian approach of talking and engaging was what worked. It reminds me of the proverb, a gentle word will turn away anger,” Pak says.

Rev. Lim, was given a life sentence of hard labour in December 2015, after being accused of trying to overthrow the North Korean regime. He was freed on “sick bail,” North Korean state media reported.

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(Host & Producer)

Sheldon Neil is a leading communicator. Born in Canada's capital city - Ottawa, Ontario, he is an international speaker, ordained faith leader, and he holds a Bachelors Degree in Journalism. Sheldon Neil is happily married to Alicia Neil. They are proud parents to their wonderful daughter, Reigan-Sijourney.