Korean-Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, who went missing during a visit to North Korea in January, took part in a press conference on 30 July in which he read a prepared statement admitting alleged crimes against the state, reports NK News. He later made his ‘confession’ before a Pyongyang church congregation.

Reading from the statement, Lim admitted at the press conference to “severely slandering” the state leadership and system in order to overthrow it and establish a religious state in North Korea.

“The most serious crimes I have committed are that I severely slandered and impaired the supreme dignity and system of this country and perpetrated a scheme to overthrow the state,” Lim said.

“In order to create the impression that it is God, and not the Workers’ Party and this country’s government, which gives things to eat and provides means to live, we intentionally drew the cross and wrote the name of the church and Bible phrases on the sacks of provisions that were donated to several parts of the country such as Chongjin and Jagang Province.”

Lim, a member of the Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto/Mississauga, has been involved in humanitarian work for more than 20 years.

Following the press conference his family and church made no comment on the charges against Lim, but did say the work he did in North Korea was “for the betterment of the people …it is this tremendous love for the people of DPRK that motivated Mr Lim to travel to the nation over 100 times”.

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs expressed their “deep concern” for Lim and said they “continue to advocate for consular access and for a resolution in his case”.