Canadian pastor's release comes as US-North Korea tensions ease: but where does China fit in?

(Photo: Light Presbyterian Church)Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim the pastor from Mississauga, Ontario who was detained in North Korea during an aid trip and who made a made a televised confession July 30 admitting to treason, according to KCNA, the official news agency in the country.

A pastor from Canada released from imprisonment by North Korea has told church congregants he suspects his recent release from prison by North Korea was a bid to ease tensions between in the verbal missile-driven war between Pyongyang and Washington.

"I believe (North Korean leader) Kim Jung Un let me go as a gesture of goodwill in the face of so much rhetoric," Hyeon Soo Lim told a packed worship hall in a Toronto suburb on Aug. 13, Reuters reported.

The 62-year-old Canadian pastor who was held in a North Korean prison for more than 2 and a half years said in Toronto he suspected his life sentence was commuted last week to help reduce pressure on Pyongyang.

"I believe (North Korean leader) Kim Jung Un let me go as a gesture of goodwill in the face of so much rhetoric," Hyeon Soo Lim said in a Sunday worship hall in near Toronto suburb.

His comments came at a time the United States and North Korea were locked in a standoff following repeated missile launches by the North Asian nation in the region and threats by U.S. President Donald Trump of the consequences of more such acts.

The following day on Aug. 14 CNBC's Jake Novak commented that less a week earlier the world seemed to be on the edge of a nuclear confrontation or at least a bloody military conflict in East Asia.

On Aug. 11 a United Nations human rights expert had welcomed the release of Lim, who had been detained in North Korea since February 2015.

"I am delighted by Pastor Lim's release from prison on humanitarian grounds. He is among several foreign nationals who have been arrested in the DPRK in the past couple of years and given a harsh sentence," said Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea had commented.

Was the pastor's release North Korea's peace marker in the week that had the world fretting with worry and the global Christian community praying together?

CNB's Nova noted what a difference a few days make.

"After a weekend filled with a series of conciliatory statements from China, some of them downright surprising, the situation with North Korea seems to be less tense right now, which could be construed as a major win for the Trump team.

"To be specific, the big move came Monday as China agreed to ban imports of North Korean iron, lead, and coal as part of new U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang. That's hitting Kim Jon Un's regime where it hurts."

Novak said there had also been the statement in China's State newspaper Global Times Aug.11 that said that if North Korea attacks the U.S., China should remain neutral.

"In other words, they'd be on their own," wrote Novak.

He noted, "While these developments do not fully constitute a real solution to the potential threats North Korea's nuclear and missile programs pose to the region and the world, everyone's nervous meter seems to have gone down several notches."

But then on Aug. 14 Trump who seems to has on numerous occasions been accused of dumping his friends, said he had asked the top U.S. trade official to review China's practices regarding intellectual property in a cautious but strongly-worded statement.

That left the pondering once again on the utterances of the U.S. president.

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