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

  • Memorable quotes from Meghan and Harry's Oprah interview

    World News CTV News
    Memorable quotes and major revelations from Oprah Winfrey's interview with Meghan and Harry, their first since stepping away from royal life: "I just didn't want to be alive anymore. And that was very clear and real and frightening. Source
  • Authorities to seek charges after massive party near University of Colorado turned violent

    World News CTV News
    Authorities promised Sunday to pursue criminal charges after a massive party near the University of Colorado in Boulder devolved into a violent confrontation with police that left three officers injured. Hundreds of people flooded the streets in an area known as the Hill on Saturday night and when told to leave threw bottles, rocks and other objects at police and firefighters, police said. Source
  • Meghan says Royal Family had concerns about Archie's skin colour

    World News CBC News
    Meghan said she considered suicide or self-harm during her time with the Royal Family after asking for help but getting none. "I just didn't want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. Source
  • Bombshells from royal interview: The most dramatic disclosures from Prince Harry and Meghan

    World News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Prince Harry and Meghan opened up about their life both in and out of the Royal Family during a wide-ranging interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on Sunday. In the interview, Harry and Meghan spoke about their relationship with the Royal Family, Meghan’s first meeting with Queen Elizabeth and the tensions she’s experienced with the family. Source
  • U.S. and South Korea agree on new cost-sharing deal for troops

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The United States and South Korea have reached agreement in principle on a new arrangement for sharing the cost of the American troop presence, which is intended as a bulwark against the threat of North Korean aggression, both countries announced. Source
  • Meghan says she had suicidal thoughts during royal life in Oprah interview

    World News CBC News
    Meghan said she considered suicide or self-harm during her time with the Royal Family after asking for help but getting none. "I just didn't want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. Source
  • Meghan says Royal Family refused to make son a prince due to skin colour

    World News CBC News
    Meghan said she considered suicide or self-harm during her time with the Royal Family after asking for help but getting none. "I just didn't want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. Source
  • Are there mussels on your moss balls? Alberta officials warn of tiny invasive species

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- Wildlife officials are sounding the alarm following the discovery of a tiny invader that hitched a ride into Alberta last week. Moss balls, also known as marimos, are a popular item among aquarium lovers and are sold in many pet and plant stores throughout the province. Source
  • At least 15 dead, 400 wounded in Equatorial Guinea blasts

    World News CTV News
    OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO -- A series of explosions at a military barracks in Equatorial Guinea killed at least 15 people and wounded more than 400 others, authorities said. State television TVGE read out a statement from President Teodoro Obiang Nguema which said the explosion was due to the "negligent handling of dynamite" in the military barracks located in the neighbourhood of Mondong Nkuantoma in Bata. Source
  • 'It's been a good week': Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

    Canada News CTV News
    Canada's chief public health officer is expressing hope for the future as the world prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 crisis. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic last March 11, and Dr. Source