North Korea’s state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) warned Canada on Tuesday not to attempt to undermine their “righteous judgment” against Canadian pastor Lim Hyeon-soo.
“The Canadian Prime Minister and many Canadian officials have libeled the result of Lim’s trial on December 16, conducted over Lim’s slandering of the North Korean leadership and attempt to overthrow the country,” read the KCNA editorial.“North Korea cannot express enough astonishment toward the Canadian government for mentioning ‘tremendous concern’ over our judgment and claiming that our sentence was a serious violation of the Vienna Convention,” read the article.
“Canada’s unreasonable and disrespectful reaction will only complicate the situation.”
Last Wednesday, Korean-Canadian pastor Lim Hyeon-soo, who was detained in North Korea since this year January, received a life sentence of hard labor on numerous charges, including attempting to overthrow the North Korean government.
On the same day as North Korea’s judgment, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada had “tremendous concern” over Lim’s sentence.
Diana Khaddaj, the spokeswoman for the federal department of Global Affairs also said that North Korea’s judgment is “a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the right of states to have consular access to their citizens.”
But the KCNA’s article hit back against the Canadian government, saying that the “Vienna Convention on Consular Relations clearly states that the Consulate’s right to contact their citizens is bound to government of the country of residence.”
“Following the North Korean law, we have disapproved of Canadian Consulate’s contact with Lim during the investigative phase on Lim’s crimes,” read the article.
“But after the investigation was done, with special permission, North Korea has invited the Canadian delegation to attend Lim’s trial and even allowed the consulate to make contact with Lim later.”
The North Korean media further claimed that the Canadian government has no legal grounds to slander North Korea’s judgment on Lim.
“North Koreans are infuriated by Lim’s crime against the state and demanded that the North Korean legal system punish Lim more severely.”
Ha Kyong-seok, a researcher at the Ilmin International Relations Institute told NK News that North Korea is using Lim’s case to send political message to world to “stop slandering North Korean government.”
“It is obvious that North Korea is purposefully using Lim’s case to send some political message to Canada, U.S., Korea and many other countries in the world,” said Ha.
Ha explained that Lim’s imprisonment and sentence might be North Korea’s leverage to counter U.N.’s continuing pressure on North Korea’s human rights violations.
“In most cases, if a foreigner is shown on North Korean media for their ‘crimes’ against the state, it is the state’s effort to use the case to evade the further international pressure on North Korea.”
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun
(Ahn is a NK News contributor based in Seoul. He previously worked as an Interpreter for U.S. Forces Korea.)