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JH Ahn was an NK News contributor based in Seoul. He previously worked as an interpreter for United States Forces Korea.
A Korean-Canadian pastor imprisoned in North Korea was interviewed with CNN on Monday, after which his family urged the Canadian government to accelerate his return home.
The exclusive interview by CNN Lim Hyeon-soo took place in a Pyongyang on Monday by. Lim was filmed in gray prisoner clothing, with his hair cut short in prisoner style and was escorted by two North Korean prison guards who watched his every movement, including getting up and sitting down in the chair.
According to the interview, Lim is living under the constant watch of North Korean guards, with no contact with the outside world, working eight hours a day, six days a week alone in orchards.
CNN reporter Will Ripley implied that the interview room might have been bugged as the North Korean authorities insisted that Lim only answer in Korean, despite his being fluent in English.
“The Lim family would like to express gratitude to CNN and Mr. Ripley for their professionalism and compassion,” said Lim’s family during the press release.
“We also appreciate that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea allowed Mr. Ripley access to Reverend Lim and make this personal interview possible. We would also like to urge the Canadian government to do what is necessary to accelerate diplomatic discussions to secure Reverend Lim’s speedy release and return home.”
Lim, of the Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto, lost contact with the church when he went to North Korea a year ago on his humanitarian missions. In July, it was revealed that Lim had been charged with slandering the North Korean leadership and system, intending to overthrow the country and establish a religious state in North Korea, NK News previously reported.
A month ago, Lim received a life sentence of hard labor. On the day of his sentence, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and many Canadian officials showed concerns over Lim’s imprisonment and condemned North Korea’s act as serious violation of Vienna Conventions.
The following week, North Korea’s state media responded by slamming “Canada’s unreasonable and disrespectful reaction.”
“Hostage diplomacy is one of North Korea’s typical ways to negotiate with foreign countries,” Kang Dong-wan from Dong-Ah University told NK News.
“The timing of holding such an interview, just a week after the (alleged) H-bomb test, with foreign media tells me North Korea is playing that test as the leverage to negotiate with Western countries.”
Kang added that even though Lim is Canadian, another CNN report on an imprisoned Korean-American in North Korea showed that the regime is playing the diplomatic game with the U.S., forcing Washington to converse with North Korea.
Featured image: Uriminzokkiri