North Korea Gives Life Sentence to Canadian Pastor [Excerpts]
Hyeun-soo Lim, the Korean Canadian pastor detained in North Korea since February, was [on December 17, 2015] sentenced to life in prison with hard labor by the country's Supreme Court. He was convicted of numerous charges, including an attempt to overthrow the government.
The announcement, which followed a brief trial, is a blow to his family whose hopes were raised when Canada's newly elected government committed to scaling up efforts to get him released.
Lim, head pastor at the Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto, had visited North Korea more than 100 times to distribute humanitarian aid for nursing homes, daycare centers and orphanages.
His church lost contact with him in January, and it was thought that he’d been quarantined as part of the government’s attempt to prevent the spread of Ebola. In February it was revealed that Lim had been arrested and charged with slandering the North Korean leadership and its system of government. He was accused of trying to overthrow the country and establishing a religious state.
During a press conference in July, Lim was forced to read out a public confession. Usually North Korea pronounces a sentence within weeks after such a ‘confession’, but this time it took five months. “Most likely, diplomatic efforts to secure Lim’s release failed,” World Watch Monitor was told. The source, who cannot be named for security reasons, said North Korea had probably hoped to get more out of the negotiations: “Whatever that ‘more’ is, we don’t know. Pastors like Lim, who have seen so much of how North Korea treats its prisoners, cannot easily be released. Unless Canada makes an offer North Korea can’t refuse, I don’t see Lim returning home anytime soon.”
Lim was involved in humanitarian aid and not with the underground church. It is believed his arrest and sentence will have no impact on this church network, “but a case like this does outrage the North Korean government”, the source said. “North Korean believers could be dealt with even more harshly if they are exposed.”
Another consequence of the Lim case is that North Korea now applies a stricter visa policy and NGOs – especially from the US and Canada – are much less eager to continue or start up work in Kim Jong-Un’s state.
(Christian headlines.com, c/o World Watch Monitor, December 17, 2015)