In the latest, and most tangible sign yet of ongoing attempts to de-escalate the conflict with North Korea, the state-run news agency KCNA reports that a special envoy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, according to Yonhap.
Daniel Jean, national security advisor to the prime minister of Canada, and his party arrived in Pyongyang, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, without elaborating further.
The visit has drawn speculation that the envoy was to discuss the issue of Korean-Canadian pastor Lim Hyeon-soo detained in the reclusive regime. Lim has been held in custody by the North since he entered the reclusive country on a humanitarian mission in January 2015. In December the same year, the North's highest court sentenced Lim to life in prison, citing his "subversive plots" against the Pyongyang regime.
Lim's family has been urging the Canadian government to step up efforts to release him 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.
Still, some have speculated that the unexpected arrival of a western proxy diplomat may be the first tangible attempt to de-escalate the simmering conflict, as in the past talks between the US and North Korea have taken place through proxy envoys who, unlike most Americans - with certain notable basketball hall of fame exceptions - are more welcome in the rogue state.