Korean Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim (senior pastor of Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto), who has been detained in North Korea for nearly two years, has been hospitalized due to worsening health conditions for the past two months. According to Radio Free Asia, Canadian diplomats told Lim’s family that he has been hospitalized and receiving treatment since August.
However, the diplomats also noted the difficulty of negotiating with North Korean officials, and have not detailed the content of the negotiations, according to the Radio Free Asia report.
Lim, who has been involved in humanitarian work in North Korea, has visited the country over 100 times. However, he was detained during his last visit in January of 2015, and was sentenced to hard labor for life in December of 2015.
In an interview with CNN in January of 2016, Lim said that he is “fine,” and that he receives three meals per day along with medical care.
Lisa Pak, spokesperson for Lim’s family, told the Toronto Star in early October that the family is “very concerned that [Lim’s] health may have declined and those concerns are heightened precisely because we have no information.”
Light Presbyterian Church released a public statement earlier this month calling on the Canadian government to continue their efforts to secure Lim’s release, noting the government’s role in the release of Homa Hoodfar who had been imprisoned in Iran, and Kevin Garratt, who was imprisoned in China.
“We know that in both cases the highest level of government officials, including Prime Minister Trudeau himself, were instrumental in securing the release of these fellow Canadians,” said the statement. “We urge the Canadian government to demonstrate the same attention and determination when engaging in diplomatic talks with the North Korean officials.”