Parliament Hill vigil set for Toronto pastor held 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 manage his blood pressure.

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

  • Thai monk sentenced for raping teen girl he impregnated

    World News CTV News
    BANGKOK -- A Thai court on Wednesday sentenced a former Buddhist monk known for his jet-set lifestyle to 16 years in prison for raping a young teenage girl who he also impregnated. Wirapol Sukphol became infamous when he appeared in a 2013 YouTube video in his monk's robe aboard a private jet wearing aviator sunglasses with a Louis Vuitton carry-on by his side. Source
  • Indian temple set to allow entry to females who menstruate

    World News CTV News
    NEW DELHI -- A temple in southern India that's one of the largest Hindu pilgrimage centres in the world is set to open its doors to females of menstruating age following a ruling by the country's top court. Source
  • Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

    World News CTV News
    DUBBO, Australia -- The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked for bringing England's notoriously inclement weather to a drought-stricken Outback town on Wednesday in a rain-drenched visit to Dubbo during their Australian royal tour. Source
  • Cannabis Canada: Live updates from across the country

    Canada News CTV News
    The countdown is finally over as Canada becomes only the second country in the world to legalize cannabis.Sign up to receive the Pot Post newsletter delivered to your inbox Canadians are expected to line up or log online Wednesday to be among the first to purchase marijuana legally. Source
  • Three Myanmar journalists in court over story gov't calls false

    World News CTV News
    YANGON, Myanmar -- Three detained journalists appeared in a Myanmar court on Wednesday to face charges filed against them by the Yangon regional government, which alleges a story they published was false. An increasing number of journalists have been arrested and jailed for their work under Myanmar's civilian government, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner. Source
  • Ontario residents can now buy cannabis online, must wait for retail stores

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Ontario residents can now legally buy cannabis online, though they'll have to wait until early next year to purchase some from a store. Recreational cannabis is legal in Canada for those 19 and over as of today, with each province responsible for regulating the sale and consumption of the drug. Source
  • Paul Bernardo set to make parole pitch today

    Canada News CTV News
    BATH, Ont. -- Convicted rapist and killer Paul Bernardo is due to plead for release today. The 54-year-old Bernardo is expected to argue at a parole hearing that he has improved himself during his 25 years behind bars. Source
  • Gaza rocket hits home in Israel, military strikes back

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- A rocket fired from Gaza struck a residential home in southern Israel early Wednesday and the Israeli military began attacking militant sites in Gaza in response after days of rising tensions. The Magen David Adom medical service said a woman and her three children, whose home in Beersheba was struck, were being treated for shock after they fled to their shelter upon being awoken by warning sirens shortly before 4 a.m. Source
  • Canada's giant public health 'experiment' with legalized cannabis begins

    Canada News CBC News
    Many people in the medical field agree that with legalization Canada has opened the door to an unprecedented glimpseĀ into the effects of cannabis on health. What they don't agree on is whether that's a good thing. Source
  • U.S. top diplomat says Saudis committed to complete probe into journalist's disappearance

    World News CBC News
    Saudi Arabia has committed to conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday before departing the kingdom for Turkey. Pompeo said he would meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital Ankara, two weeks after Khashoggi vanished when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect documents he needed for his planned marriage. Source