SEOUL, South Korea
— North Korea
’s official news agency reported on Friday that a Canadian pastor who has been detained there since February had confessed to crimes aimed at overthrowing the country’s government.
The Rev. Lim Hyeon-soo, who was born in South Korea
and has visited the North many times, said at a news conference on Thursday in Pyongyang
, the capital, that he had conducted “anti-D.P.R.K. missionary activities,” according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. D.P.R.K. stands for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Mr. Lim, 60, said his goal had been to undermine the North Korean people’s “worship for the leader,” according to the report, a reference to Kim Jong-un, the authoritarian country’s supreme leader.The report said Mr. Lim was accused of making “subversive plots and activities in a sinister bid to build a religious state” in North Korea “while frequenting it under the guise of ‘humanitarian aid’ and ‘free donation’ over the past 18 years.” The report made no mention of any formal charges against Mr. Lim, however.
Mr. Lim’s congregation in suburban Toronto, the Light Korean Presbyterian Church, lost contact with him after he left for North Korea in late January. His fate had been unknown since then, though Canada had said it was aware that one of its citizens had been detained.
Lisa Pak, a spokeswoman for the church, said that Mr. Lim had traveled to North Korea more than 100 times, motivated by “tremendous love for the people of the D.P.R.K.”
“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 D.P.R.K. have been for the betterment of the people,” Ms. Pak said.
Reuters quoted a spokeswoman from Canada
’s foreign affairs department as saying that officials there were “deeply concerned,” adding, “We continue to advocate for consular access and for a resolution in his case.” Canada has no embassy in North Korea.
North Korea, which zealously tries to shield its public from outside influences, has detained a number of foreign missionaries in recent years, accusing them of proselytizing and of antistate crimes.