World

Hyeon Soo Lim, Canadian pastor, being held in North Korea, family told

A Canadian pastor who went missing in North Korea during a humanitarian trip in January is reportedly being held in the reclusive nation.

Lim family and church ask Canadians to pray for release of clergyman last heard from Jan. 31

Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim is shown working on an agricultural project in North Korea. Officials in the reclusive nation are holding the pastor, but there are few details. (Submitted by Lisa Pak)

The family of a Canadian pastor who vanished while on a humanitarian mission in North Korea says they've learned he's being held in the reclusive nation.

The family of Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim has received notice from Canadian officials that Pyongyang is holding the pastor.

"The Lim family and the church community is asking fellow Canadians and the international community to continue praying for his release and safe return home," said a family statement shared Thursday by Lisa Pak, a spokeswoman for the Light Presbyterian Church.

Lim had travelled to North Korea from China with a companion from the church in Mississauga, Ont., who last spoke with him on Jan. 31.

Pak said the 60-year-old pastor went to North Korea on a humanitarian trip as he had done more than 100 times before over the last nine years.

He first started going when heard about famine and flooding problems in the country.

She doesn't believe Lim would have engaged in any type of proselytizing, which is prohibited in North Korea.

A North Korean soldier looks at the south side through a pair of binoculars at the border village of Panmunjom. The family of Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim said they received notice from Canadian officials that Pyongyang confirms the pastor is being held. (Lee Jin-man/Associated Press)

Pak said Lim goes for a few days at time, bringing in goods, making sure they're allocated to the right people, and leaving quickly to avoid problems with officials. 

Pak said neither she nor the family wanted to speculate on why he's being held.

Lim was due to return Feb. 4 from what was described as a "routine" trip to a Rajin in northeastern North Korea where the church supports a nursery, orphanage and nursing home.

Caitlin Workman, a spokeswoman with Foreign Affairs, said they are aware of the detention, and consular officials are in contact with the family.

 "Canada has long advised and continues to advise against any and all travel by Canadians to North Korea," she said in a statement Thursday.

"Canadians should not travel to North Korea under any circumstance. As there is no resident Canadian government office in the country, the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance is extremely limited."

Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim was expected back from Rajin in northeastern North Korea. (CBC News )

With files from The Canadian Press

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