A Canadian pastor who was detained and held in North Korea’s forced labor camps for more than two years is now recounting the horrific details of what he endured.
The Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, 62, who was released from prison and returned home to Canada on Saturday, told parishioners on Sunday that his return home is miraculous.
Lim said that his televised confession after the initial accusations were waged against him was coerced.
“During the winter, I had to dig holes that measured one meter wide and one meter deep,” Lim told his congregation at Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga and Toronto. “The ground was frozen. The mud was so hard that it took two days to dig one hole.”
He continued, “It was incredibly challenging. My upper body was sweating. My fingers and toes were frostbitten.”
The spring and summer seasons were also torturous, with Lim saying that he would be forced to work outside in the heat of the sun — an experience that took a toll on his body, leaving him hospitalized for two months.
The pastor said that he prayed during his time in captivity and that he was also forced to read and watch propaganda given to him by North Korean officials.
“From the first day of my detainment until the day I was released, I ate 2,757 meals in isolation,” the pastor said in a statement before his church appearance. “It was difficult to see when and how the entire ordeal would end.”
Lim believes that his release after Canadian officials pressed North Korea to let him go is nothing short of a miracle; he also expressed gratitude to government officials for their efforts.
“It’s a miracle for me to be here today,” Lim said, according to the Globe and Mail. “I always knew Canada was a very warm and compassionate nation, but through my ordeal I really began to grasp that very deeply.”
Lim returned to Canada on Saturday after being released on what North Korea called “sick bail.” He had been held for two years and seven months, and said that he believes his release was “a gesture of goodwill in the face of so much rhetoric,” according to The Guardian.
As Faithwire has reported, it is widely understood that there is virtually no such thing as religious freedom in North Korea, and a report released recently sheds light on just how dire the situation is for Christians living in the hermit kingdom.
In a 15-page document titled “Total Denial: Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in North Korea,” British-based human rights advocacy organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide offers troubling details on how Kim Jong-Un’s regime tortures, mutilates, and kills Christians.
Open Doors USA, a nonprofit that monitors Christian persecution, has consistently rated North Korea the worst place in the world for Bible-believing Christians to live.