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January 21, 2016
Cindy Henriques

It has been approximately one month since Canadian Pastor Hyeon Soon Lim was sentenced by a North Korean court to life in prison with hard labour. Lim, a minister at the 3,000-member Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, went to North Korea in January 2015 on a routine humanitarian trip which resulted in him being detained by North Korean officials in February 2015. 

CNN correspondent Will Ripley recently sat down for an exclusive conversation with Pastor Lim. Lim, who is in his early sixties, revealed that he works eight hours a day, six days a week digging holes for the planting of apple trees in the prison orchard, but that he has not lost faith. Pastor Lim hopes to return home to his family and congregation.

When asked if there is anything he needs, he responded, “Nothing much, just a Bible.”

Context’s Cindy Henriques spoke with Lisa Pak, spokesperson for Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont. for further insight on Pastor Lim’s resolve to keep his faith and and what Canada is doing to aid his situation.

Cindy@CONTEXT: Who can communicate with him and how often?

Lisa Pak: We are aware that two guards are with him at all times. Other than that, the CNN interview tells us that he is alone. We know Canadian officials have had one opportunity for consular access but the family has not been able to see or hear from him directly.

Cindy@CONTEXT: How is Pastor Lim? And how is his health?

Lisa Pak: Canadian officials who were given consular access on Friday, December 18 have conveyed to the family that Reverend Lim was in good health. From the CNN interview, we were glad to see that, despite some weight loss, he was in good physical condition. Very good to hear his own voice.

Cindy@CONTEXT: As the pastor mentioned in his CNN interview, nobody knows if he will ever come home. How is the Lim family and his congregation coping with this possibility?  

Lisa Pak: While this may be true, we’re still very hopeful. The CNN interview may be the way that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is letting the Canadian government know that they are willing to negotiate so at this point, we’re urging the Canadian government to actively engage in diplomatic discussions.

Cindy@CONTEXT: Last year North Korea released Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary who was convicted of anti-state crimes. What measures do you think the Canadian Government could possibly take to have Pastor Lim return to Canadian soil?  

Lisa Pak: We would like to see high level officials in the Canadian government take more interest. We would also like to see them take a more active and assertive approach especially now that we see that the DPRK might be open to actively engaging in diplomacy.

Cindy@CONTEXT: What do you think of the hard labour sentence given to Pastor Lim?

Lisa Pak: It’s certainly unusual for us and even shocking for his loved ones, but we also don’t want to interfere or criticize the DPRK’s judicial system at this point.

Cindy@CONTEXT: Pastor Lim states that whatever happens he is at peace. What continues to motivate him in such a positive way during a time of trial?

Lisa Pak: Prayer. We also know that he’s asked for a Bible and so we hope that he’s got it with him now. He’s a deeply spiritual man. Those two things are more than enough for him. We trust that God sustains him.

Cindy@CONTEXT: How has Pastor Lim's faith given him strength and courage while serving his sentence?

Lisa Pak: We know that he trusts in God and so do we.

Cindy@CONTEXT: Despite his condition, Pastor Lim prays for the reconciliation between North and South Korea – why is that so important to him?

Lisa Pak: Reconciliation is an important subject to many Koreans. It's about peace and restoration on the peninsula, an end to tension, the reuniting of families. There are many opinions on this issue and Reverend Lim just hopes that one day, there will be peace. How that will look remains to be seen.

Cindy@CONTEXT: How does Pastor Lim inspire us to follow Jesus in times of great trial?

Lisa Pak: Pray, trust God, stay the course. Patience and compassion, goodness and love will overcome.

For more, click here to become a Context Insider today. 


He is living the life of the apostle Paul. However we do a government and Priminister Trudeau needs to place this on his agenda ...URGENT. PERIOD
January 23, 2016 | Suzie Ludwig

This suffering deeply touches me, we really need to lift Pastor Lim, and others like him in captivity, to Jesus.
January 22, 2016 | Lorna Dueck

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