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Return to the country of a pastor freed by North Korea

13 August, 2017, 18:24 | Author: Alberta Rodriguez
  • Canada FM urges US N. Korea to step back

Lim (62) was imprisoned in North Korea in 2015.

Lim arrived in Toronto in the late morning Saturday, and is "landed and resting", according to a press release from his family.

Lim is a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga.

Informing Lim's arrival to the country, Global Affairs Canada said in a statement: "Today, we join Pastor Lim's family and congregation in celebrating his long-awaited return to Canada".

South Korea, the United States and others often accuse North Korea of using foreign detainees to wrest diplomatic concessions, and foreigners have said after their release that their declarations of guilt were coerced while in North Korean custody.

Canada does not have diplomatic offices in Pyongyang and relies on Sweden to handle consular issues.

The pastor, who served in one of the largest churches in Canada, had travelled to North Korea regularly on humanitarian missions before his detainment. Hyeong Soo Lim suffers from high blood pressure and has lost a lot of weight since his capture.

He added that getting the pastor home took on increased urgency in June, following the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died days after being released from a North Koreanprison in a coma.

"Now more than ever, he's never felt more Canadian", the son said. "It catalyzed discussions over additional human-rights-focused sanctions and prompted countries to re-evaluate their policies on tourism to the North", said Andrea Berger, senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

"What North Korea is doing is absolutely unacceptable, and it's posing an unacceptable security threat both in the region and to the entire world", she said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada stands by the United States, but called for a de-escalation in the war of words with North Korea.

Freeland said after meeting with members of the agricultural sector that the industry recommended the NAFTA talks could be used to reduce some of the red tape they face around cross-border trade.

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