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Canadian Pastor Still Being Interrogated in North Korea, Sources Say

FILE - Lim Hyeon-soo speaks during a news conference at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on July 30, 2015.

A Canadian pastor of South Korean descent is still being interrogated in North Korea, where he has been held for almost a year, his fellow pastor has told VOA.

Rev. Hyeon-soo Lim, who leads the Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto, Canada, has been detained by the North Korean government and has not been in contact with family or friends since January 31.

His fellow pastor, Lisa Pak, told VOA News she heard about the continued interrogation from a former high-level Canadian official who used to work for the Stephen Harper administration. She said Canadian officials have visited Pyongyang and met with North Korean authorities twice since Lim's detention, but have not made any meaningful progress.

But Pak said the official was unable to disclose the details of Lim's detainment, including the specific location.

The Canadian government has declined to confirm the talks with North Korean authorities. Fran├žois Lasallle, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, told VOA the government is deeply concerned about Lim and that it is providing consular assistance to his family.

Back in July, Lim made his first public appearance at a news conference in Pyongyang. Reading from a statement, he confessed to activities aimed at toppling the North Korean government and to violating the country's Ebola quarantine policy.

"I have so far malignantly defamed the dignity and social system of [North Korea,]" Lim said, in the televised conference. His fellow Christians believe that to be a forced confession by the North.

Lim traveled into North Korea from China on January 30, to aid projects established by his church in the northeastern city of Rajin. The projects include aiding an orphanage, a nursery and a nursing home.

The Light Presbyterian Church considers such trips as "routine." Lim had previously visited the North more than 100 times.

Lim's family is refraining from public activities to raise awareness of his detainment for fear such activities will negatively impact Pyongyang's decision to release him.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.