N. Korea Sentences Canadian to Hard Labor for Life

Pastor accused of trying to overthrow government
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 16, 2015 12:01 AM CST
In this image made from video, Hyeon Soo Lim, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, is escorted to his sentencing in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday.   (Uncredited)
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(Newser) – North Korea's Supreme Court sentenced a Canadian pastor to life in prison with hard labor on Wednesday for what it called crimes against the state. Hyeon Soo Lim, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, was given the sentence after a brief trial. He had been in detention since February. Lim had earlier appeared at a news conference organized by North Korean authorities in Pyongyang in July and admitted to plotting to overthrow the North Korean state, but other foreigners detained in North Korea and then released have said they were coerced into making similar statements and confessing guilt during their detention.

Lim's relatives and colleagues have said he traveled on Jan. 31 as part of a regular humanitarian mission to North Korea, where he supports a nursing home, a nursery, and an orphanage. They said Lim, who's in his early 60s, has made more than 100 trips to North Korea since 1997 and that his trips were about helping people and were not political. North Korea has very strict rules against any missionary or religious activities that it sees as threatening the supremacy of its ruling regime; merely leaving a Bible in a public place can lead to arrest and possibly severe punishment. Both the US and Canadian governments warn against travel to the country. ("Ghost ships" believed to be from North Korea have been turning up in waters near Japan.)

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