Pas­tor freed in North Korea ‘on his way home’

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

Rel­a­tives of a Cana­dian pas­tor re­leased this week af­ter more than two years in a North Korean prison said Thurs­day he is “on his way home’’ and they are anx­ious to be re­united with him.

The Korean Cen­tral News Agency re­ported Wed­nes­day that North Korea’s cen­tral court had de­cided to free Hyeong Soo Lim, who was serv­ing a life sen­tence for anti-state ac­tiv­i­ties.

The pas­tor’s re­lease was de­scribed as “sick bail,’’ but no other de­tails were given.

In a state­ment Thurs­day, a spokes­woman for his fam­ily said they look for­ward to his re­turn.

“We are re­lieved to hear that Rev. Lim is on his way home to fi­nally re­unite with his fam­ily and meet his grand­daugh­ter for the first time,’’ Lisa Pak said on the fam­ily’s be­half.

“There is a long way to go in terms of Rev. Lim’s heal­ing, there­fore, in the mean­time we ask the me­dia for pri­vacy as he re­con­nects with his loved ones and re­ceives med­i­cal at­ten­tion.’’

Pak also said the fam­ily is grate­ful to the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment and the Swedish em­bassy in North Korea for work­ing be­hind the scenes to se­cure the pas­tor’s free­dom. She did not say when he was sched­uled to ar­rive in Canada.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said Thurs­day he was “pleased and re­lieved’’ that Lim

had been re­leased.

“Pas­tor Lim’s health and well-be­ing re­main of ut­most im­por­tance to the gov­ern­ment of Canada, and we are work­ing to en­sure that he re­ceives any re­quired med­i­cal at­ten­tion,’’ Trudeau said in a brief state­ment.

The prime min­is­ter also thanked Swe­den for its as­sis­tance in the mat­ter but said “op­er­a­tional se­cu­rity con­sid­er­a­tions’’ pre­vent the gov­ern­ment from dis­cussing the case fur­ther.

While Canada lacks an em­bassy in North Korea, Swe­den has main­tained one in Py­ongyang since 1975. Swe­den acts as the “pro­tec­tive power’’ for

Canada and other coun­tries, mean­ing it can pro­vide dif­fer­ent ser­vices in­clud­ing con­sular re­spon­si­bil­ity for Cana­dian cit­i­zens.

Swedish For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Mar­got Wall­strom tweeted that she was glad Swe­den could as­sist with the ef­fort to free Lim.

In a Face­book post, she said Swe­den had been “ac­tively en­gaged in Pas­tor Lim’s case over a long pe­riod of time.’’

“Our pres­ence in North Korea en­ables us to en­gage in di­a­logue and in­ter­ac­tions. We take this role very se­ri­ously.’’

Wall­strom called Lim’s re­lease a “ray of hope’’ amid mount­ing ten­sions be­tween Py­ongyang and Wash­ing­ton.

CP PHOTO

Cana­dian pas­tor Hyeon Soo Lim, cen­tre, is es­corted to his sen­tenc­ing in Py­ongyang, North Korea. An On­tario church con­gre­ga­tion is cel­e­brat­ing news of the re­lease of their pas­tor from a North Korean prison more than two years af­ter he was ar­rested in the coun­try.

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