North Korea paraded three foreign detainees before international media again this week, in what has become a common tactic for dealing with outsiders accused of crimes. While their fate remains uncertain, they are at least accounted for, unlike Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian pastor who disappeared in the country in January.
Conspicuous by his absence in the latest television appearances, Lim has not been heard from since entering the country on what his church says was a routine humanitarian mission. Lim had reportedly visited the country on humanitarian work more than 100 times prior to his latest trip. North Korea only confirmed his detention in March, weeks after his disappearance.
Since then, there has been no update whatsoever on his situation, according to Lisa Pak, a spokeswoman for Lim’s Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ontario, while his case has dropped off the media radar.
“We haven’t received any official confirmation about his health and current conditions of confinement,” she told The Diplomat, adding that she had hoped the CNN interviews might reveal new information. Pak said that even the reason for his detention and his location remain unknown. After almost six months of effective silence, Lim’s church and family are increasingly fearful for his welfare, according to Pak.
“For the family and the church, of course the longer it goes on the more concerned we are,” she said. “We just want him back, that’s the bottom line.