North Korea’s highest court has sentenced the South Korea-born Canadian pastor to hard labor for life for subversion, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.
However, Lim’s church have said they are holding out hope that, like Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor but released less than two years later, the pastor will soon be granted his freedom.
Canada has called for the North to release him, condemning the North’s move.
According to Reuters, Canadian diplomats were permitted to meet with the Canadian pastor. “The government is obliged to make an apology for the ugly anti-DPRK crimes acknowledged by (Lim) and take steps for the prevention of the recurrence of similar case”, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK told Korea’s KCNA news agency.
“If the allegations against the DPRK and their human rights history are indeed untrue – and that’s and if – we then understand their outrage, because nobody wants to be accused of such heinous crimes”, Pak said.
The church also has launched a petition asking United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to travel to North Korea to seek Lim’s release.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “very concerned” about the sentencing of Lim.
“The Canadian government is inciting a quarrel by blaming our fair judicial measures of creating ‘concern, ‘ and ‘violating global law, ‘ when it is their citizen that has committed an unscrupulous criminal act…we can only be appalled”, the spokesman said.
In a separate statement to CNN, Pak emphasized that Lim remains faithful despite his bleak sentence. “We continue to work towards a resolution of his case”.
She said the family and the church were very grateful that Lim was granted consular access by the North Korean authorities.
Lim, a Canadian citizen, visited North Korea frequently over the past two decades, leading more than 100 humanitarian aid missions there.
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