A Canadian pastor who was imprisoned in North Korea for more than two years is expected to be reunited with his loved ones soon, but he still has "a long way to go" toward regaining his health, according to his family.

It's not clear when, exactly, Hyeon Soo Lim will return to Canada. His family said in a statement they are "relieved" the 62-year-old pastor is coming home, but asked for privacy as he reconnects with his loved ones and receives medical attention.

Lim's prison sentence was suddenly cut short on Wednesday because of what Pyongyang called "humanitarian" grounds. He is known to need medication to manage high blood pressure and was reportedly in poor health during his time in North Korea.

Lim was sentenced to hard labour for life in December 2015 for what North Korea said was an attempt to overthrow the regime. Ottawa sent a delegation earlier this week to negotiate his release.

His family thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other officials, including Sweden's ambassador to North Korea, for their efforts. Canada does not have diplomatic offices in Pyongyang and relies on Sweden to handle consular issues.

Lim will meet his granddaughter for the first time when he returns home, according to a statement from his family. His wife and son live in the Toronto area, and he is attached to the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont., one of the largest churches in Canada.

The church has said he visited North Korea more than 100 times since 1997 and helped set up an orphanage and nursing home. Family and friends say he was visiting those projects at the time of his arrest in February 2015.