Canadian pastor last seen in North Korea remains missing

Light Korean Presbyterian Church, where Rev Hyeon Soo Lim is the head pastor. North Korea has detained Lim, who went missing after he travelled there on a humanitarian mission.Reuters

A Canadian pastor of Korean descent who went to North Korea in late Januay remains missing.

According to FOX News, Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim has been missing for more than a month after failing to board his return flight to Canada from North Korea on February 4. He had gone to North Korea for a humanitarian mission which, FOX News said, he regularly does as part of his pastoral duties.

Rev. Lim is a pastor for the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto. He is also married and the father of one son.

According to Asia News, Rev. Lim has made more than 100 visits to North Korea for humanitarian purposes and is entirely "non-political."

Toronto City Councillor Raymond Cho stated that the Light Korean Presbyterian Church has been left distressed by the disappearance of Rev. Lim, who he noted has a passion for helping the poor, elderly and abandoned in North Korea.

"If he's detained, if North Korea keeps him for whatever reason, it really doesn't look good for North Korea," the councillor said in an article at International Christian Concern (ICC).

Experts, however, told Asia News that Rev. Lim's disappearance "for the time being is not worrying" and could be a result of Pyongyang's restriction on visas lasting more than 21 days because of fears surrounding the Ebola virus. They also noted that citizens of countries neutral or "not directly opposed" to North Korea's regime are usually released from prison immediately if arrested.

Asia News noted that Canada does not maintain a diplomatic presence in North Korea, and strongly advises its citizens against travelling to the hermit communist country.

ICC's Regional Manager for Asia Corey Bailey called for the release of the pastor.

"North Korea is the world's worst persecutor of Christians and as such, the disappearance of Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim should not be taken lightly. We demand North Korea reveal the whereabouts of the Reverend and immediately send him home to his family and friends in Canada," Bailey urged.