(Photo: Reuters/KCNA)South Korea-born Canadian Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim stands during his trial at a North Korean court in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, December 16, 2015.
SEOUL/TORONTO — North Korea freed a Canadian pastor serving a life sentence on humanitarian grounds, the official KCNA news agency said on Wednesday, just hours after the United States warned it would counter any threat from the North with "fire and fury."
Connection - Release - Hyeon - Soo - Lim
There was no clear connection between the release of Hyeon Soo Lim and the heightened rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang. Canadian officials said on Tuesday a delegation led by the country's national security adviser had gone to North Korea to discuss Lim's case.
Lim, who served in one of the largest churches in Canada, had been sentenced to hard labor for life in December 2015 after North Korea accused him of attempting to overthrow the regime.
North - Korea - Goodwill - Canada - Tensions
"Strategically, North Korea perhaps hopes to engender some goodwill from Canada as tensions rise," said Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat in China. "They hope that Canada presents some moderating influence on the Trump administration.
"(But) I do not think it is directly connected to the tensions the U.S. president has ratcheted up. North Korea is concerned he would die in prison."
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KCNA said Lim had been released on "sick bail" by the country's Central Court for humanitarian reasons.
Lim - Wife - Son - Canada - Thursday
Lim, accompanied by his wife and son, is expected to return to Canada on Thursday and will be hospitalized on arrival at his wife's request, a source familiar with the matter said.
"So far, it has been confirmed that government officials and a doctor are accompanying Reverend Lim,"...
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