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Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim lands in Ontario after release from North Korea

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2017-08-12 Philip Ling
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Toronto-area pastor Hyeon Soo Lim was reunited with his family in Ontario today after more than two years in detention in North Korea.

Lim landed in Ontario Saturday morning and is resting, said Lisa Pak, a spokesperson for the family, in an email to media.

The 62-year-old pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont., just outside Toronto, had requested a private reunion with his family, Pak said. Family members will be available to speak to media at a news conference at the church later Saturday afternoon, she said. 

Global Affairs Canada issued a statement on Lim's release Saturday asking that his family's request for privacy be respected.

"Today, we join Pastor Lim's family and congregation in celebrating his long-awaited return to Canada," the agency said. "Canada has been actively engaged on Mr. Lim's case at all levels, and we will continue to support him and his family now that he has returned."

Sentenced to life of hard labour

Lim and his family had not seen each other in person since the pastor was arrested in 2015 and sentenced to a life of hard labour in prison for crimes against the state.

He was freed earlier this week, after a six-member Canadian delegation, led by Daniel Jean, who serves as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's national security and intelligence adviser, travelled to Pyongyang. The delegation travelled back with the Presbyterian pastor.

They flew to the Yokota Airbase in Japan from Pyongyang on Thursday, after North Korea's Central Court granted Lim "sick bail" on humanitarian grounds.

From there, the Royal Canadian Air Force CC-144 Challenger aircraft flew across the Pacific Ocean, making stopovers in Guam, Honolulu and Vancouver. It landed in southern Ontario Saturday morning. Pak did not confirm the location, referring media to Global Affairs Canada. 

The Canadian delegation was dispatched from Ottawa to the reclusive regime last Saturday. The team spent 40 hours in Pyongyang, from Tuesday evening until Thursday morning, holding talks with senior North Korean officials.

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