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10 August 2017, 12:42 | Marta Robbins
But a spokesman for the North’s foreign ministry said Americans were still welcome
The official Korean Central News Agency said Hyeon Soo Lim, who it referred to merely as "Rim Hyon Su, a Canadian civilian", was "released on sick bail.from the humanitarian viewpoint".
The pastor went to North Korea on January 31, 2015 for a humanitarian mission, one of more than 100 trips to the country since 1997, to support an orphanage, nursery and nursing home, his relatives and colleagues have said.
There was no obvious direct connection between the release and the standoff with the United States, but North Korea has in the past attracted the attention of Washington, and visits by high-profile Americans, with the detention and release of USA citizens.
His supporters have said he was on a humanitarian mission to North Korea when he was detained.
Mr. Lim said during his news conference that the bags of food he had donated across North Korea had carried the sign of the cross and phrases from the Bible.
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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.
"While Pastor Lim's treatment is a reminder of the atrocious and evil nature of the DPRK regime, it should also be a reminder of how vigilant that regime works to keep their population literally and spiritually "in the dark" as the Christian faith is seen as a direct attack on Kim Jong Un, whom they are brainwashed to worship as their god".
His health soon also began to decline as he complained of stomach pain and high blood pressure.
The development came as a delegation from the office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Pyongyang to press for the release of the 62-year-old, South Korean-born citizen, Canadian media reported. In 2016, he told the US network CNN that he had been digging holes for 8 hours a day.
Three American citizens remain in custody in North Korea.
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