Canadian pastor detained in North Korea

North Korea prisoner Lim Hyeon-soo Kim Jong-un

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.

A Canadian pastor who was sentenced to a life term of hard labour in North Korea for "crimes against the state" in December 2015 has been released, the country's official news agency says.

Lim is on his way home to his family, including a granddaughter he will meet for the first time, and his 3,000-member congregation, Light Korean Presbyterian Church in suburban Toronto.

The Canadian government is not confirming the release yet, but did acknowledge that it sent a delegation to discuss the case.

The delegation that arrived in North Korea today was headed by Daniel Jean, who serves as Justin Trudeau's national security advisor.

Rim Hyon Su, also known as Hyeon Soo Lim, was arrested in 2015 and sentenced to hard labor for allegedly attempting to overthrow the regime by using religion.

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"[Lim's] health and wellbeing remain of utmost importance to the government and we are obviously continuing to engage on his case and, given that it is an active case, we can not provide any further comment at this time", Trudeau's press secretary Cameron Ahmad told journalists.

North Korea responded by saying on state media it is considering a strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Lim has made more than 100 visits to North Korea since immigrating to Canada from South Korea nearly three decades ago.

Lim's family has been urging the Canadian government to step up efforts to have him freed after U.S. college student Otto Warmbier was released in a coma from North Korea in June following a 17-month detention and died days after a medical evacuation.

But Lim isn't the only point of concern for Trudeau in dealing with North Korea, whose aim to develop nuclear missiles capable of reaching across the Pacific has Canadians anxious they are in range. The student died less than a week after returning to the U.S. There are three Americans still being held in North Korea.

One month into his sentence, Lim told CNN he works eight hours a day, six days a week, with rest breaks, digging holes for the planting of apple trees in the prison orchard.

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