TORONTO — A head pastor of large Canadian church has failed to return from a humanitarian mission to North Korea and the Canadian government has reached out to try to locate him, his Toronto-based church said on Monday.
Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim, 60, has made hundreds of trips to North Korea, where he helps oversee a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage in the Rajin region, said Lisa Pak, a spokeswoman for the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in suburban Toronto.
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North Korea clamped down on Christian groups in the last year, and several American Christians have been detained by North Korea.
Pak said they have not heard from Lim since Jan. 31 but weren't initially worried because he is an experienced traveler and knows the country well. They also thought he could be caught up by North Korea's quarantine of foreign travelers who may have been exposed to Ebola. The quarantine program ended Monday.
"This is not an unusual trip for him ... he's not a tourist who got lost, he speaks Korean, he's been there many times," said Pak. "We didn't want to cause unnecessary hysteria, just make sure he is OK. He's very non-political." Lim immigrated to Canada from South Korea in 1986 and has a wife and grown son, she added.