North Korea sentences Canadian to life in prison for 'anti-state activities'

PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of - A North Korean court has sentenced a Canadian pastor to life in prison for what it called crimes against the state.

See Full Article

Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, was given the sentence after a brief trial before the country's Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Further details were not immediately available.

Relatives of Lim have said he travelled to North Korea on Jan. 31 as part of a regular humanitarian mission where he supports a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage.

They said Lim, who is in his early 60s, has made more than 100 trips to North Korea since 1997 and that his trips are about helping people and are not political.

A spokeswoman for the Canadian Global Affairs Department had no immediate information about his sentence.

Lisa Pak, a spokeswoman for the family, has said Lim had no problems on his previous trips to North Korea.

She confirmed in March that Lim had been detained in the country.

One of the projects Lim spearheaded "aims to help the people there live sustainably," she said at the time, adding "they can grow their own food now, so they don't always have to receive aid."

The previous Conservative government had said consular officials were in contact with family members and providing assistance, but that the process was difficult as Canada has no diplomatic presence in North Korea.

Last month, Lim's family issued a statement saying it hoped the new Liberal government would be able to secure his release.

"It is our hope that Prime Minister Trudeau, Foreign Minister Stephane Dion and the newly elected government continues to hold this case in the highest priority, doing what is necessary to secure the safe and speedy return of Reverend Lim to his family and community," the statement said.

The family said it was Lim's compassion for the people of North Korea that motivated him to travel to there in support of many humanitarian aid projects that he had initiated.

Lim started the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont., nearly three decades ago, shortly after he immigrated from South Korea. He grew the congregation from about a dozen people in 1986 to more than 3,000 members today, Pak said. He also runs a smaller church in downtown Toronto that caters to young people.

North Korea is just one of many countries where Lim performs humanitarian work, said Pak, who's also a spokeswoman for the church.

The country has very strict rules against any missionary or religious activities that it sees as threatening the supremacy of its ruling regime. Merely leaving a Bible in a public place can lead to arrest and possibly severe punishment.

Both the Canadian and U.S. governments warn against travel to North Korea.

Last year, North Korean officials released Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary who was convicted of "anti-state" crimes and had been serving a 15-year sentence.

Bae, whose detention received worldwide attention, suffered medical issues in detention. He was freed along with one other American detainee after a secret mission to the reclusive communist country by James Clapper, the top U.S. intelligence official. He is reportedly planning a book about his two-year ordeal in detention.

An Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity was deported last year after he apologized for anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.

- With files from The Canadian Press



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • A Big House for retirement: Ont. man to live in converted N.B. jail

    Canada News CTV News
    DORCHESTER, N.B. - An Ontario garbage worker has decided to retire to the Big House -- a defunct New Brunswick jail with a history of hangings. Bill Steele of Oshawa just bought the former jail in Dorchester -- listed for $159,900 -- which was decommissioned more than 20 years ago and features 15 original cells. Source
  • ACLU, Georgia battle over 'Allah' last name for toddler

    World News CTV News
    ATLANTA -- A civil rights group sued Georgia over the state's refusal to allow a couple to officially name its 22-month-old child "Allah." The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed the lawsuit recently in Fulton County Superior Court on behalf of the couple, Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk. Source
  • U.S. stocks lower as 'Trump trade' runs out of steam

    World News CBC News
    The three-month rally in stock markets ran out of a little steam on Monday on worries that the Trump White House may not be able to push through as many changes to business regulations as once thought. Source
  • Family pays tribute to American slain in London terror attack

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- The family of an American slain in last week's terror attack in London expressed gratitude for the kindness of strangers on Monday, offering hope and resolve that some good would result from the tragedy. Source
  • Kushner agrees to speak to Senate panel about Russia

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law has volunteered to answer questions before the Senate Intelligence Committee about arranging meetings with the Russian ambassador and other officials, the White House confirmed Monday. Jared Kushner has agreed to speak to the committee, which is conducting an investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, including whether there are any ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin, the White House said. Source
  • 'No evidence' London attacker associated with ISIS: police

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Police have found no evidence that the man who killed four people in London last week was associated with the Islamic State group or al Qaeda, a senior British counterterrorism officer said Monday. Source
  • London attacker wasn't linked to al-Qaeda or ISIS, police say

    World News CBC News
    A senior British counterterrorism officer says police have found "no evidence" Westminster attacker Khalid Masood was associated with ISIS or al-Qaeda. Deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said Masood clearly had "an interest in jihad," but police have no evidence he discussed his attack with others. Source
  • U.S. couple accused of trying to sell baby on Craigslist for $3,000

    World News CTV News
    ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - Authorities say a Tennessee couple is accused of trying to sell a 5-month-old baby online for $3,000. Local news outlets report that the Greene County Sheriff's Office says 37-year-old Deanna Lynn Greer and 26-year-old John David Cain were arrested Friday on charges of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment. Source
  • 5 things we learned about the changing nature of news from The National in Conversation

    Canada News CBC News
    Some of CBC's top journalists and personalities from around the country gathered in Charlottetown on Friday for a panel discussion about the changing nature of news. Peter Mansbridge, CBC's chief correspondent, was the moderator. On the panel were senior correspondent Susan Ormiston, Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton, CBC News Now with Ian Hanomansing host Ian Hanomansing, CBC News: Nova Scotia and East Coast correspondent to The National Tom Murphy, columnist Rex Murphy and This Hour Has…
  • Massive $1M gold Canadian coin stolen in Berlin

    World News CBC News
    Berlin police say thieves broke into the German capital's Bode Museum and made off with a massive 100-kilogram gold coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint that's worth millions. Dubbed the "Big Maple Leaf" and measuring three-centimetres thick with a diameter of 53 centimetres, the coin has a portrait of the Queen on one side and maple leaves on the other. Source