by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
UPDATE (Thursday, March 5, 3 p.m. PST): Reverend Lim’s church and Canadian consular officials confirmed that he is being held by North Korean authorities, according to Wall Street Journal.
The Light Korean Presbyterian church said Lim’s family was notified by Canadian officials that the North Korean government had sent them a confirmation of his detainment.
A Korean Canadian pastor has lost contact with the Canadian government after visiting North Korea for humanitarian work, reports Reuters.
Reverend Hyeon-soo Lim, 60, has traveled to North Korea more than 100 times since 1997 to help oversee a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage in the Rajin region, said Lisa Pak, the spokeswoman for the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto.
Lim entered North Korea through China on Jan. 31, and has since lost contact with his church, family and friends. The pastor was expected return from his trip on Feb. 4, but church officials were not alarmed, believing that Lim was delayed by North Korea’s quarantine of foreign travelers who may have been exposed to Ebola.
“We didn’t want to cause unnecessary hysteria, just make sure he is OK. He’s very non-political; he just wants to help the people,” said Pak, according to Reuters.
North Korea ended the quarantine program on Monday, but there has been no sign of Lim. Meanwhile, the Canadian government has advised against all travel to North Korea.
The North Korean government has a strict policy against proselytizing, as religion is seen as a threat to the ruling Kim family. Over the years, many Christian missionaries have been detained in the hermit kingdom.
Kenneth Bae, a missionary who entered North Korea in late 2012, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for alleged anti-government activities. After being detained for two years, Bae was released last November, along with fellow U.S. detainee Matthew Miller, who was formerly sentenced to prison for six years for alleged espionage.
Born in South Korea, Lim immigrated to Canada in 1986. He has a wife and an adult son.
Featured image via The Telegraph