Canadian Pastor Sentenced to Hard Labor for Life in North Korea Freed on ‘Sick Bail’

PYONGYANG — North Korea has freed a Canadian pastor that was sentenced in 2015 to hard labor for life on allegations that he attempted to overthrow the government.

Hyeon Soo Lim, 62, pastor of Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, had traveled to the country two years ago to build an orphanage, nursery and nursing home. He had visited the nation over 100 times in the past 20 years.

“It is this tremendous love for the people of the DPRK that motivated Mr. Lim to travel [to North Korea],” family spokeswoman Lisa Pak told reporters.

However, while carrying out his mission, he was taken into custody in February 2015 and accused of committing hostile acts against the North Korean regime. In December of that year, Lim was put on trial and sentenced to indefinite hard labor.

Sitting down with reporters for the first time in January 2016, Lim said that he was the sole worker in that particular labor camp, digging holes for eight hours a day, six days a week. When asked what his needs were, he replied that he would like a Bible and more frequent letters from his family.

“Nothing much, just a Bible. I have requested one, but it has not arrived yet,” Lim told CNN. “I also really need letters from my family. I have received letters twice from my family.”

His health soon also began to decline as he complained of stomach pain and high blood pressure. Lim likewise lost a significant amount of weight through the ordeal.

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According to reports, a delegation led by Canadian National Security Adviser Daniel Jean recently traveled to North Korea in an attempt to secure Lim’s release. On Wednesday, he was set free on “sick bail” and is expected to return to Canada on Thursday, where he will be hospitalized.

“North Korea is concerned he would die in prison,” former Canadian diplomat Charles Burton told Reuters.

Lim’s family and friends have expressed relief that he will soon return home. As previously reported, they had been concerned following the June death of Otto Warmbier that the pastor might face the same plight.

“This is a truly joyous occasion,” Suzanne Scholte, chair of North Korea Freedom Coalition, told the group International Christian Concern on Wednesday. “Lim was imprisoned simply because he served the one true God and wanted Him to be known to the North Korean people.”

“While Pastor Lim’s treatment is a reminder of the atrocious and evil nature of the DPRK regime, it should also be a reminder of how vigilant that regime works to keep their population literally and spiritually ‘in the dark’ as the Christian faith is seen as a direct attack on Kim Jong Un, whom they are brainwashed to worship as their god,” she said.


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  • Bishop P.D Mühlethaler

    Praise God, for allowing them to smell fear, and allowing this Pastor to go home to his family.

  • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Looks like he may have had a stroke. He’s allegedly in rough shape.

    • mr goody two shoes

      if missionary’s expect to be treated kindly or nice .they should think again and Consider what st Paul went through. Its not a comfortable cushy Job being a missionary.

      • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        He knew the risks.

  • Ablemom

    It seems very offensive of North Korea that this Canadian pastor was not granted right to return to Canada two years ago, and was evidently forced to dig holes in solitary work among all other North Korean prisoners! As there were merely reported beliefs, not sworn on any Bible by the North Koreans in either Canadian official language — potentially untrue that the pastor was working subversively, while he admitted trying to contribute to building an old age home in NK for North Koreans government retiree’s – the holes he dug were evidently wanted by the North Koreans! They could have sent him back much earlier – with a bill to Stephen Harper’s government long before the 2015 election for just their court’s time offering their provisional diagnostic report. They could have thus asserted much more diplomatically that any Canadian’s going to North Korea to give a care or dig some holes for their government-retirees are mentally incompetent to be self-represented. I think the government leaders of Canada and our closest ally the USA should now send an invoice to Kim Jong Un for all the aggravated damages to this pastor’s health and those our tax-payers have paid for the special envoy’s expenses for Harper’s and Trudeau’s governments obedience to International Law Her Majesty in the UK observes also in permitting our elected Prime Ministers and charity leaders to behave as diplomats and bring him home safely – as we will have to pay for his health care when he get’s home also!

  • mr goody two shoes

    Not saying it so but Just perhaps God seriousness about him being a witness of Jesus took a prison camp and his health.