Canadian pastor sentenced to hard labor for life
North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported that a South Korea-born Canadian pastor, Hyeon Soo Lim, was sentenced to hard labor for life for subversion by North Korea’s highest court. Initially the prosecution had sought the death penalty but later conceded to the defence’s plea for leniency despite the gravity of his alleged crimes “so that he can witness for himself the reality of the nation of the Sun as it grows in power and prosperity”.
Lim, who was the head pastor of the 3,000-member Light Korean Presbyterian Church ,one of Canada’s largest churches in Toronto, lived in Canada since 1986 and is a Canadian citizen. Church officials said he had visited North Korea more than 100 times since 1997 and helped to establish a nursing home and an orphanage in the country.
Lim was accused of entering North Korea on the pretext of humanitarian work and gathered information which he used to fabricate anti-North Korean propaganda as part of a U.S. and South Korean-led “human rights racket” against the country. He was also accused of attempting to overthrow the North Korean government and undermine its social system with “religious activities” for the past 18 years. KCNA did not mention what specific activities Lim had engaged in, but Lim had confessed to meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Mongolia regarding plans to help people defect from North Korea. Most people seeking to escape from the repressive North Korean regime travel to South Korea via China and Southeast Asia, though some attempt to flee via Mongolia.
When they heard about his sentence, over 1,000 supporters recently gathered at the Toronto church of Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim to offer him their prayers and support. The prayer vigil took place at Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, outside of Toronto, where the Rev. Jason Noh told visitors that despite his harsh sentence, Lim is in “really good spirits.”