Canadian pastor detained in North Korea confesses to crimes

Video grab released by North Korea on August 2 shows Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim "confessing."

Story highlights

  • North Korean video footage shows pastor confessing at a church for crimes against the state
  • Lim, a Canadian citizen, was first detained in February

(CNN)North Korea has released video footage of a Canadian pastor purportedly confessing before a Pyongyang church to committing crimes against the state.

Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, who ministers the 3,000-member Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, traveled to North Korea in January on a humanitarian visit but was detained in February.
    "My biggest crime is my act of blindness in severely insulting the highest dignity and system, the DPRK," Lim is shown saying to a church congregation while dressed in a dark suit and tie. The video was posted on Uriminzokkiri, a state-run propaganda website.
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    The church service took place on August 2nd at Pyongyang's Bongsu Church. There are several places of worship in the North Korean capital, including the Protestant church where Lim appeared. It is known to be used for propaganda purposes but run by state-monitored religious associations.
    Lim's confession is similar to an appearance he made in front of media last Thursday, where he confessed to conducting activities with the goal of toppling the North Korean government and violating the country's Ebola quarantine policy by illegally entering the capital.
    "To add more credibility in the strategic propaganda, I gave my son shameful video materials that I secretly filmed in the DPRK, forged it and named it "The Reality of the North." I showed it to (church) followers and also distributed it by posting it on the Internet," Lim said, according to the state-run KCNA new agency.

    Trips were for aid, family says

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    Lim is a Canadian citizen who emigrated from South Korea in 1986.
    A spokesperson for Lim's family, Lisa Pak, described his trips to North Korea as "routine" and said that Lim had visited the country more than 100 times.
    In a statement given first to CNN last Thursday after Lim's news conference, Pak said, "There are no comments regarding the charges and allegations made against Mr. Lim except that the humanitarian aid projects that Mr. Lim has both initiated and supported in the DPRK have been for the betterment of the people."
    In April, a South Korean student was detained after illegally crossing into the country from China. A month before that, North Korea said it was holding two other South Koreans on charges that they were spies.