Freed Mississauga pastor describes overwhelming loneliness in North Korean prison
Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim waves to the congregation as he arrives at the Light Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont., Sunday, August 13, 2017. Lim was released last week from prison in North Korea, where he had been serving a life sentence with hard labour for anti-state activities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, August 13, 2017 1:01PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, August 13, 2017 5:44PM EDT
A Canadian pastor freed from a North Korean prison was met with cheers as he waded through a mob of people at church Sunday morning, making his first public appearance since arriving home.
Hyeon Soo Lim attended the Sunday service at the Light Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, where he works as a pastor.
He had been serving a life sentence of hard labour for alleged anti-state activities when he was released last week on what the North Korean government described as "sick bail."
Lim gave an address in front of a church so full that some people who couldn't find seats stood in the back. And although the speech's contents read as solemn in the English translation, he delivered them energetically.
He and the audience laughed as he delivered jokes in Korean that congregants later described as self-deprecating.
"You can see I've had a haircut," he reportedly told the congregation, gesturing to his bald head.
Outside the church before the service, Lim told a group of reporters that he's proud to be a Canadian.
He made the appearance just one day after arriving home on a small government aircraft Saturday morning.
CTV News obtained a copy of the address Lim gave to the church members.
In it he says he read more than 100 books, ate 2,757 meals in solitude and endured overwhelming loneliness.
During the winter, Lim says he had to dig holes and worked in a coal storage facility.
He suffered frostbitten fingers and toes.
Lim told the congregation that it was by the grace of God that he was freed.
With files from CTV