Family awaits ailing pastor's return from North Korea

Geneva Matthews
August 11, 2017

A Canadian pastor freed from a North Korean prison on humanitarian grounds is healthy and not in critical condition, his family said on Thursday.

The federal government, which sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's senior adviser on foreign affairs to Pyongyang, was working behind the scenes and deserves credit for Lim's release.

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.

The prime minister's spokesman Cameron Ahmad said the government considered Lim's health of "utmost importance" but did not give more details.

Hyeon Soo Lim, a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ontario, is expected to arrive back in Canada on Thursday after more than two years in detention.

North Korea's official news agency had announced Wednesday that the 62-year-old pastor and humanitarian worker who suffers from high blood pressure was released for health reasons.

It's not known what persuaded the North Koreans to do the decent thing in this case and allow Lim to return home to Canada.

"Operational security considerations prevent us from discussing the matter further. The standing committee collectively acknowledged the need for a stringent state of security in the region due to Pyongyang's recent continual provocations, and urged North Korea to immediately stop taking actions that are raising tensions".

"So far, it has been confirmed that government officials and a doctor are accompanying Reverend Lim", said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to media.

Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim is seen speaking in Pyongyang, North Korea on July 30, 2015 in the image made from video.

The North said Wednesday it was considering a missile strike near U.S. bases in Guam.

Pastor Lim's church, which is around 3,000 strong, has supported various missions to North Korea.

Three US citizens remain in custody as relations with Washington have grown increasingly tense.

Lim, who has a wife and son living in the Toronto area, started the Light Korean Presbyterian Church almost three decades ago, shortly after he emigrated from South Korea.

The European Council first adopted United Nations measures against North Korea in 2006.

In addition, in August 2011, Canada imposed economic sanctions against North Korea under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA).

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