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Canadian pastor's family says he's been detained in North Korea, facing charges

March 5, 2015

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The Canadian government has confirmed that a Toronto pastor has been detained in North Korea, the man’s family said Thursday.

Canadian officials told the family that North Korea’s government confirmed the detention of Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, said Lisa Pak, a spokeswoman for the family and the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga.

Pak said Lim is facing charges but could not say what they are.

Lim left for North Korea on Jan. 27 with a few days stopover in South Korea before travelling on to China and crossing into North Korea on Jan. 31, Pak said, adding the family has not heard from him since then.

Lim, 60, has travelled to North Korea more than 100 times on humanitarian missions, Pak said.

She said Lim has concentrated much of his work in the country in the northeastern region of Rason.

One of the projects Lim spearheads “aims to help the people there live sustainably,” she said, adding “they can grow their own food now, so they don’t always have to receive aid.”

The pastor also helps out schools, an orphanage and a nursing home, Pak said, adding his trip was not meant to be political.

He has a wife and a 32-year-old son, who Pak said are “doing as best as they can.”

“I think now that there’s news, there’s relief, but now it’s a different kind of burden,” she said.

A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said officials are aware of a “Canadian citizen detained in North Korea” and are in contact with the family but declined further comment for privacy reasons.

“Canada has long advised and continues to advise against any and all travel by Canadians to North Korea,” Caitlin Workman said in an email.

“Canadians should not travel to North Korea under any circumstance. As there is no resident Canadian government office in the country, the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance is extremely limited,” she said.

Lim started the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga 28 years 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. A smaller church in downtown Toronto caters to young people.

North Korea is just one of many countries where Lim performs humanitarian work, Pak said, adding, “He’s a tank. I find it hard to keep up with him.”

Article source: http://www.trurodaily.com/Canada---World/Sports/2015-03-05/article-4066653/Canadian-pastors-family-says-hes-been-detained-in-North-Korea,-facing-charges/1

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