North Korea says it released Canadian pastor on 'sick bail'

North Korea prisoner Lim Hyeon-soo

While U.S. President Donald Trump was threatening North Korea with "fire and fury" as tensions between the two countries escalated Tuesday night, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau was taking a quieter line with Pyongyang-with great effect.

Emergency "sick bail" was granted to Hyeon Soo Lim who was released from his hard labour sentence on Wednesday, state-run news agency KCNA said.

He was serving a life sentence of hard labor after being convicted in December 2015 for crimes against the state. The 62-year-old's health has deteriorated while in North Korean custody and the pastor has experienced "dramatic" weight loss, Pak said.

Mr Lim's release comes two months after the death of a United States college student shortly after he was released from North Korea in a coma.

His envoy achieved Canada's aim, to secure the release of one of its citizens held in North Korea for the past two and a half years.

Warmbier was in a coma when released by North Korean authorities, which according to the DPRK, was due to a rare case of botulism he contracted shortly after his sentencing in 2016.

Lim went missing during a trip to North Korea in January 2015 after traveling to the country in order to continue working on humanitarian projects previously established with the blessing of the North Korean government.

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In letters to his family, the South Korean-born pastor complained of stomach pains and high blood pressure.

During his detention or trial, Mr. Lim's family members were not allowed to visit him, and appealed repeatedly to North Korea to free him. Therefore, in the meantime we ask the media for privacy as he reconnects with his loved ones and receives medical attention.

His family urged Trudeau to personally take up his plight. His supporters have said he was on a humanitarian mission to North Korea when he was detained. He was acting on behalf of the Light Korean Presbyterian Church, which he had led since 1986.

Hyeon had visited the isolated nation dozens of times to help set up and work with orphanages and nursing homes.

"They were sending medication but there was a question as to whether he was actually receiving it in the way he should", he said.

A year ago he was digging holes for eight hours a day in a labour camp, but claimed he was the "sole prisoner" when he spoke to CNN. The North has said, however, that its doors remain open to any American citizens interested in visiting the country.

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