A 62-year-old Canadian freed from a life sentence of hard labor in North Korea is back in his homeland, where he told his church Sunday about the harsh conditions he endured. Hyeon Soo Lim, who was freed last week on what Pyongyang called "sick bail," arrived back in Canada on Saturday, the AP reports. He had been held since 2015 after being accused of trying to use his Christian religion to overthrow the North Korean regime. In a statement in English released before he addressed the Mississauga church in Korean, Lim said he experienced "overwhelming loneliness" in captivity, eating a total of 2,757 meals in isolation. He lost more than 50 pounds during his imprisonment.
Lim said that in winter, he was forced to dig deep holes in the frozen ground, the CBC reports. "My fingers and toes were frostbitten. I also worked inside a coal storage facility, breaking apart coal," he said. "In the spring and summer, I worked outside, eight hours a day, in the scorching sun." He said the hard labor caused him to be hospitalized four times, once for two months. After Lim's safe return, his son, James Lim, thanked the governments of Canada and Sweden, which handles diplomatic issues in Pyongyang on Canada's behalf, for securing his father's release. "Now more than ever, he's never felt more Canadian," the son said. (North Korea says millions of people have volunteered to fight the US.)