Canadian pastor jailed in North Korea works in labour camp: CNN

Hyeon Soo Lim was sentenced to life in prison with hard labour for crimes against the state


A Canadian pastor serving a life sentence in North Korea says he spends eight hours a day, six days a week, toiling in a labour camp, with no contact with the outside world.

Hyeon Soo Lim — a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church west of Toronto — described his living conditions in an interview with CNN.

The pastor says it took him time to adjust to the work but he now tells himself the exercise is good for his health.

Lim, who is in his 60s, says he is desperate to hear from his family and has only been able to send them one letter so far.

He also says he has requested a Bible from North Korean authorities.

Lim was sentenced in December to life in prison with hard labour by North Korea’s Supreme Court for what it called crimes against the state.

The crimes Lim was charged with included harming the dignity of the supreme leadership, trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system, disseminating negative propaganda about the North to overseas Koreans and helping U.S. and the South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens, along with aiding their programs to assist defectors from the North.

He says his experience has not shaken his faith, and he continues to pray.

“I hope I can go home some day,” he tells CNN. “Nobody knows if I will ever go home, but that is my hope. I miss my family. I am longing to see them again, and my congregation.”

Lim’s relatives and colleagues have said he travelled to North Korea on Jan. 31, 2014, as part of a regular humanitarian mission to the country where he supports a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage.

They said Lim has made more than 100 trips to North Korea since 1997 and that his trips were about helping people and were not political.

North Korea has very strict rules against any missionary or religious activities that it sees as threatening the supremacy of its ruling regime. Merely leaving a Bible in a public place can lead to arrest and possibly severe punishment.

Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday but has previously expressed dismay at what it called “the unduly harsh sentence” given to Lim.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted in December that Canadian consular officials had not been allowed to see Lim since his detention began last February, aside from the brief trial during which he was sentenced.

Both the Canadian and U.S. governments warn against travel to North Korea.

Filed under:

Canadian pastor jailed in North Korea works in labour camp: CNN

  1. It is so weird that there are so many people who still call North Korea a country. Because what makes a country a country? I mean, countries have their features, haven’t they? They are determined borders, democratic society, freedom of speech, right to elect etc. And, interestingly, North Korea does not meet any of these features. Well, yes, they have a “constitution” which stipulates that North Korea is the most democratic country worldwide. But, technically, North Korea is the largest jail or labour camp in the world. And that is true. What is more interesting is that it is a prison with prisons inside.

    The majority of the North Korean population is spending time (not to say living) in labour camps. There are 6 of them, by the way. So, no wonder, that Canadian pastor turned out in the jail — it is a “normal” environment for the North Korean life. Furthermore, he ventured to impose religion on that society. On the society where snitching on your mother because she forgot to bless “great” leader Kim Jong Un for the half-empty bowl of half-cooked rice is considered to be normal. It is insane. That pastor is definitely a self-murderer.

    The funniest thing in all of this is that the North Korean government states that the percentage of those who are satisfied with life is close to 99%. Think about it — 99%. Actually, the happiest country is supposed to be Denmark with 80% of satisfaction. As we can see Denmark is far from being as happy as North Korea. Maybe they should set up labour camps and start to confine people. Maybe it will skyrocket the rates of life satisfaction.

    For sure, it is irony. The North Korean nation is the most long-suffering nation I know. And as history shows, none of the countries with dictatorial regime have lived long. And I do believe that North Korea is the next country jail whose authority will be thrown off in the nearest future.

Sign in to comment.