Like an operation from a spy movie, Mississauga Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim was lifted out of North Korea and a life sentence of hard labour.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it official at 1:12 a.m. Thursday in a statement confirming what had been reported Wednesday by North Korean state media.
Citing what Trudeau called “operational security,” turns out even Mississauga Light Presbyterian Church leaders, Lim's family and their spokesmen were not made aware.
But they were thrilled with the prime minister’s statement.
“I am pleased and relieved to confirm that Pastor Lim has been released from jail in North Korea and that he will soon be reunited with his family and friends in Canada,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau thanked Sweden for their assistance with Lim, 62, who had been incarcerated in North Korea for two and a half years.
“The Government of Canada was actively engaged on Mr. Lim’s case at all levels,” said Trudeau.
The turning point for Lim happened right in the middle of tense sabre rattling by leadership in North Korea and United States President Donald Trump.
The key was Trudeau getting involved in this case after pleas for him to do so by family, journalists and opposition politicians in June.
“This week, a Canadian government delegation led by Daniel Jean, my special envoy, travelled to Pyongyang, North Korea, to discuss Pastor Lim’s case,” he said.
Conservative Senator Bob Runciman told me Wednesday that Jean was the right person for this task because of his skill and experience.
It was a well done operation in what is a very tricky part of the world and an even trickier time.
The Canadian pastor’s life was in jeopardy and the only person who could get him out of there was Trudeau.
And he came through.
Now that he’s been released, the key now is the pastor’s medical situation.
Trudeau said this is a priority. A doctor travelled with the group that went to Pyongyang to tend to concerns that he had dropped down to just 80 pounds and was battling high blood pressure without medication.
“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,” said Trudeau.
His family is excited. This has been a long road of worry for them.
"We are relieved to hear that Reverend Lim is on his way home to finally reunite with his family and meet his granddaughter for the first time," the family said in a statement.
"There is a long way to go in terms of Reverend Lim’s healing, therefore, in the meantime we ask the media for privacy as he reconnects with his loved ones and receives medical attention," they added, and extended their thoughts to those still in the rogue nation.
We "ask that the world does not forget the people of North Korea.”