European Union increases bans on North Korea

Canadian Hyeon Soo Lim speaks in Pyongyang North Korea. Staff from the Prime Minister's Office is in Pyongyang North Korea to discuss the case of imprisoned Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim

European Union increases bans on North Korea

The family of a Canadian pastor released from a North Korean prison said Thursday he is now on his way home.

The Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday reported the pastor had been released on what it called "sick bail", but no other details were given.

Lim is expected to return to Canada later on Thursday and will be hospitalised on arrival at his wife's request, a source familiar with the matter said.

"We're relieved to hear" that the pastor Lim, 62 years of age, "is headed for the house to finally find her family", said Lisa Park, a spokesman for the family said in a statement. The family is "relieved, grateful, excited, anxious to see him home", Pak said.

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Lim's release came almost two months after US college student Otto Warmbier died shortly after he was released from North Korea in a coma.

Lim's case was taken up by a delegation led by Jean that had gone to North Korea earlier in the week. Sweden's embassy in Pyongyang, which represents several Western nations in the insular nation, had also helped, the statement said. His supporters have said he was on a humanitarian mission to North Korea when he was detained. It's possible they wanted him out before his health deteriorated further and they faced an embarrassing repeat of the case of Otto Warmbier, the American who was so badly treated in North Korea that he died days after being freed.

After intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests of missiles capable of reaching the United States mainland were carried out by North Korea last week, the UN imposed its "most stringent" restrictions so far with the intention of cutting almost $1bn out of the country's export revenue.

Pyongyang's already strained relations with Washington spiked to new levels of hostility after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened North Korea that it "will be met with fire and fury" if it threatens the U.S.

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At the time of his arrest, the representative of the presbyterian Church in korea in Light of Toronto was considered one of the most influential christian missionary in North Korea, a country that he had visited dozens of times to work in orphanages and hospitals.

"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.

Lim a year ago told CNN he spent his days in prison digging holes at an orchard.

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