A Korean-Canadian pastor took part in a press conference on Thursday, admitting to alleged crimes against the state in his first appearance in Pyongyang since his detention in the country in late January.
Reverend Hyeon-soo Lim, filmed by the Associated Press (AP) reading a statement, admitted to “severely slandering” the DPRK leadership and system in order to overthrow it and establish a religious state in North Korea.
“The most serious crimes I have committed are that I severely slandered and impaired the supreme dignity and system of this country and perpetrated a scheme to overthrow the state,” Lim said.
“In order to create the impression that it is God, and not the Worker’s Party and this country’s government which give things to eat and provide means to live we intentionally drew the cross and wrote the name of the church and Bible phrases on the sacks of provisions that were donated to several parts of the country such as Chongjin and Jagang Province.”
Lim had traveled to North Korea in January but subsequently lost contact with his family and members of the Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto on January 31. Lim had been involved in a variety of missionary works in North Korea for more than 20 years, prior to his arrest.
Little information on the reasons surrounding his detention had been provided until Thursday’s conference, with sources close to Lim previously telling NK News that details about his case had been extremely limited.
During the press conference, Lim elaborated on the reasons for his arrest and his alleged attempts to establish a religious state in North Korea.
“The purpose that I traveled about several parts of the country on the pretext of ‘aid’ was to build a base to overthrow the system of the country and create a religious state, taking advantage of the policies of the U.S. and and South Korean authorities,” he said while reading the statement.
“The basic purpose that I was so active in the (provision of) aid to this country in the past was to remove loyalty in the hearts of the North Korean people to their authorities. I deeply, deeply apologize from my heart for my heart, for my indescribable treason,” Lim was shown saying.
Lim’s family and and the Light Presbyterian Church issued a statement to NK News, following the latest developments with Lim’s case.
“The family and church are eager to have Mr. Lim home after close to seven months in detention in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. There are no comments regarding the charges and allegations made against Mr. Lim except that the humanitarian aid projects that Mr. Lim has both initiated and supported in the DPRK have been for the betterment of the people,” their statement read.
“It is this tremendous love for the people of the DPRK that motivated Mr. Lim to travel to the nation over 100 times. He remains a compassionate and generous man and we hope to see him home soon. We are grateful for all those who share in our concerns and ask for your continued prayers and support.”
The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development also issued a statement regarding Lim’s first public appearance in the DPRK since his arrest.
“Canada is deeply concerned with the case of Mr. Lim who remains detained in North Korea. We continue to advocate for consular access and for a resolution in his case. In the interest of Mr. Lim’s case, no further information can be shared,” a spokesperson from the department told NK News on Thursday.
North Korea, while having constitutional rights allowing for the freedom of religion, has been repeatedly hostile to attempts by foreign visitors to spread religion in the country.
Recent examples include the detention of Australian Missionary John Short in 2014 for distributing religious material while in country, U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae in 2012 for preaching Christianity and American Jeffrey Fowle, who was detained for leaving a Bible in the bathroom of a North Korean bar in 2014. All three individuals have since been released.
Main picture: File
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