Vigil to be held on Parliament Hill for Toronto pastor in North Korean prison

OTTAWA - Hundreds of supporters of a Canadian pastor serving a life sentence in North Korea are to demonstrate on Parliament Hill today to urge the government to press for his release.

See Full Article

Hyeon Soo Lim, a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church of Mississauga, Ont., was sentenced by a North Korean court to life in prison at hard labour for what it called crimes against the state.

Among other things, he was charged with harming the dignity of North Korea's supreme leader and trying to use religion to destroy the country's system.

Last month, CNN was granted extraordinary access to Lim and broadcast a televised interview in which he described his eight-hour-a-day, six-day-a-week regime of hard labour and said his North Korean jailers had yet to honour his request for a Bible.

Richard Ha, a spokesman for his church, told The Canadian Press that Lim steered clear of politics on previous trips to North Korea.

He said he was focused on helping orphans and others living in poverty.

"It's just his heart," said Ha. "Having a heart for the people of North Korea and wanting to help in any way that he can - he's driven by his faith."

Ha said about 300 supporters will hold a prayer vigil on the lawn of Parliament Hill today, calling on the government to take more action at a higher level to ask for his freedom. A petition with 165,000 signatures calling for his release will also be highlighted.

"What started as a petition by two Edmonton women has grown into a global movement that has secured the support of tens and tens of thousands," said Kathryn Semogas, the Canadian spokeswoman with the petition platform Change.org.

Foreign affairs critic Tony Clement is to hold a news conference on the Hill as well to urge more action.

Ha said Lim's family and his congregation are grateful for everything Canada has done so far to try to win his release, but they want to bring attention to his cause.

At the same time, they are also walking a fine line and don't want to do anything to anger North Korea's leadership. The hermit kingdom, cloistered from the world, is pursuing a nuclear bomb while many of its civilians starve.

Lim, who turned 61 on Tuesday, needs medication to control his diabetes, said Ha.

Ha said Swedish diplomats in North Korea have been allowed to bring medication to Lim in prison, but to his knowledge he has been denied all other visits.

Canada, like many countries, does not have an embassy in North Korea, and has advised against all travel there.

Lim has a wife and adult son living in the Toronto area.

Lim told CNN that his faith has not been shaken, and he continues to pray.

"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," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Armed gang steals toilet paper rolls in panic-buying hit Hong Kong

    World News CTV News
    HONG KONG, CHINA -- Armed robbers who stole hundreds of toilet rolls were being hunted by Hong Kong police on Monday, in a city wracked by shortages caused by coronavirus panic-buying. Toilet rolls have become hot property in the densely packed business hub, despite government assurances that supplies remain unaffected by the virus outbreak. Source
  • Rival Democrats accuse Bloomberg of trying to 'buy' election

    World News CTV News
    CARSON CITY, NEV. -- With the Nevada caucuses less than a week away, Democratic presidential candidates campaigning this weekend were fixated on a rival who wasn't contesting the state. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg all targeted billionaire Mike Bloomberg, accusing him of buying his way into the election and making clear they were eager to take him on in a debate. Source
  • Inside the meeting between Mohawks and Canada's Indigenous services minister

    Canada News CBC News
    Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller asked the Mohawks of Tyendinaga to temporarily halt a demonstration that has shut down one of Canada's most important rail corridors and allow trains through, a leaked recording of the closed-door meeting reveals. Source
  • Canadian cruise ship evacuees frustrated with additional quarantine period

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Canadian evacuees of the Diamond Princess cruise ship currently docked in Yokohama, Japan, have expressed frustration over the additional quarantine period awaiting them once they return to Canada.Read more about the Diamond Princess evacuations Source
  • 10 years later, residents still waiting for a school in Olympic Village

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- Parents living in Vancouver's Olympic Village neighbourhood are frustrated with the lack of options when it comes to sending their kids to school. “Anybody that says kids don't live in condos -- that is just an out dated belief," said Lisa McAllister, who lives in Olympic Village with her family of four. Source
  • China sees rise in new virus cases, death toll rises by 105

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- Mainland China on Monday reported a slight upturn in new virus cases and an increase by 105 in deaths caused by the illness for a total of 1,770 since the outbreak began. The 2,048 new cases followed three days of declines but was up by just 39 cases from the previous day's figure. Source
  • 'Unfathomable': Search to continue Monday for body of 9-year-old boy in Lake Erie

    Canada News CBC News
    Locals watched the icy water with helplessness, as a recovery search continued Sunday for the nine-year-old boy who fell into Lake Erie on Saturday afternoon. "It's just so insanely tragic. And on a Family Day weekend of all the times," said Denice McKenzie, who lives in the small, close-knit community of Peacock Point, Ont. Source
  • N.B. premier cancels controversial plan to close rural ERs overnight

    Canada News CBC News
    New Brunswick premier Blaine Higgs has announced he's backing away from the controversial plan to close six emergency departments between midnight and 8 a.m. in a month's time. Higgs issued a news release shortly before 8 p.m. Source
  • U.S. man pleads guilty over plot to obtain stolen TVs worth US$1M

    World News CTV News
    GREENBELT, MD. -- Federal prosecutors in Maryland are recommending a prison sentence of more than five years for a man who pleaded guilty to conspiring to obtain hundreds of stolen televisions worth more than US$1 million. Source
  • Wales bears the brunt as deadly storm Dennis hammers the U.K.

    World News CBC News
    Storm Dennis hammered Britain on Sunday, bringing a month's worth of rain in just 48 hours to parts of South Wales, which bore the brunt of the country's second severe storm inside a week. Rivers across Britain burst their banks and a number of severe flood warnings remained in place as authorities strove to get people to safety and to protect homes and businesses. Source