North Korea 'cannot suppress outrage' over Trudeau's response to pastor's sentence

Justin Trudeau may have made his first high-profile, international enemy.

Canada's prime minister has drawn the ire of North Korea over his response to the life sentence of hard labour handed out to South Korean-born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim last week.

See Full Article

The country's state broadcaster, Korean Central News Agency, quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying that Trudeau has been "rashly unleashing malicious slander" following the ruling.

"We cannot suppress outrage that the Canadian government dares to pick a quarrel with our fair and just judicial decision, speaking of 'concern' and 'violation of international law' when its citizen has committed a vicious crime against us," quoted the report.

Rev. Lim, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, was given the sentence for allegedly attempting to overthrow the government, following a 90-minute trial before North Korea's Supreme Court on Wednesday.

He originally travelled to the communist country in January as part of a humanitarian mission and has been in detention since February.

Lim, who is in his early 60s, has made over 100 trips to North Korea since 1997, setting up nursing homes and orphanages.

After the court's decision, Trudeau told reporters that the government needs to ensure that Canadians around the world, including North Korea, are being "properly treated."

"The issues of North Korea's governance and judicial system are well known," he said.

"We are very concerned about someone being sentenced to life."

Canadian officials were able to meet with Lim over the weekend, and said they're working to get him back home.

Questions also remain surrounding the pastor's confession.

In July, Lim admitted to plotting to overthrow the North Korean regime at a news conference organized by state authorities in Pyongyang.

Other foreigners who were detained in the country and later released have said that they were coerced into making similar statements, and confessed their crimes while they were detained.

Members of his church in Toronto doubt he would threaten his humanitarian work by plotting against the state.

"We don’t see him proselytizing or offending the government in such a way to jeopardize two decades of work,” said Lisa Pak, a spokesperson for the family and the Light Korean Presbyterian Church.

The congregation is preparing for Christmas celebrations, but North Korea's statements have them on edge.

"We want to be very careful … we don't want to offend them … we just want to help them and love them," said Pak.

Amnesty International expects that Canada will have to ask other governments who have better relations with North Korea for help.

"Canada will not have all that much influence with the government in North Korea. We don't have a close relationship," said Alex Neve, secretary general of the organization's Canadian wing.

Even if that happens, securing Lim's release will likely take months and could require another public declaration of guilt

"There would have to be another public expression of regret -- a confession that he is guilty of (the crime)," said Bruce Klingner, the CIA's former deputy division chief for Korea.

"There would likely (also) have to be behind-the-scenes activity by Canadian diplomats."

North Korea is also demanding an apology from the Canadian government.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Winnipeg police investigate whether infant suffered fentanyl overdose

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Police in Winnipeg are investigating whether a young child suffered a possible fentanyl overdose. Const. Rob Carver says paramedics were called to a home Tuesday night and found a child under the age of eighteen months in critical condition. Source
  • Canadian parents spend a quarter of their salary on child care — a third if they're single

    Canada News CBC News
    Canadian families spend almost one-quarter of their income on child care, a ratio that is much higher than in other parts of the world, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says. In a wide-ranging report on the status of young people around the world, the group of wealthy nations found Canada to be among the most expensive for daycare among its 35 members. Source
  • Alberta man designs 'theft-proof' poppy box

    Canada News CTV News
    An Alberta man who was tired of hearing about poppy box thefts has taken matters into his own hands. Dan Kroffat, a businessman and former Canadian professional wrestler, said he has tweaked the traditional poppy box design so that it can’t be stolen. Source
  • Loonie falls below 75 cents US as Bank of Canada mulls rate cut

    Canada News CBC News
    The Canadian dollar traded below 75 cents US Friday, for the first time since March. The almost one-cent drop comes partly because of signals from the Bank of Canada — although the central bank is likely fine with a lower loonie. Source
  • London City Airport declared safe after 'chemical incident'

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- More than two dozen people were treated for breathing difficulties in a suspected chemical incident that sparked the evacuation of London City Airport Friday, fire and ambulance services said. After a three-hour investigation by police and firefighters in protective clothing, the terminal was declared safe. Source
  • Mom of boy who vanished in 1979 testifies of 'total horror'

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- When her 6-year-old son was late getting home from school, his mother called a classmate's mom and got the news that would launch one of the nation's most infamous missing-child cases. Etan Patz had never made it to school that day in May 1979. Source
  • Canada calls for more aid as groups brace for flood of civilians from Mosul

    World News CTV News
    Intisar Mateh, second left, washes the dishes as her daughter, Farah Mateh, right, plays with her friends in a camp for displaced Christians in Irbil, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. Iraqi refugees from areas near Mosul are eagerly following the offensive to drive the Islamic State group from the city and hope to return to their homes, but they also fear what they might find there. Source
  • 'No further actions' planned on dressage score-tampering allegations against Canadian judge

    Canada News CBC News
    The international governing body for the sport of dressage, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), says it has completed an investigation into score-tampering allegations against a Canadian judge made shortly before the Rio Olympic Games this past summer. Source
  • Husky Energy wants more time for report after pipeline leak in Saskatchewan

    Canada News CTV News
    REGINA -- Husky Energy has asked for more time to submit technical reports on an oil pipeline spill into the North Saskatchewan River. The Saskatchewan government says Husky (TSX:HSE) has been granted a 30-day extension on the metallurgic report on the failed pipe, as well as on a geotechnical report on the land where the failure occurred. Source
  • Alleged victim in Quebec Liberal sex assault allegation speaks out

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by a Liberal member of the Quebec legislature says she's now ready to pursue a complaint against him. Alice Paquet tells Radio-Canada in a TV interview she was sexually assaulted twice by Gerry Sklavounos, a longtime member of the national assembly who stepped down from the Liberal caucus on Thursday to sit as an Independent. Source