While the world wonders whether or not North Korea detonated a hydrogen bomb, two North American citizens remain in the custody of the “hermit” nation.
In an exclusive interview, CNN got in contact with both men who spoke of their alleged crimes as well as the punishments they have received since being detained by the despotic state that has been often at the center of various human rights violations.
In the interview, Canadian Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim (60) stated that he has been spending his time digging holes; eight hours a day at a hard-labor camp on the North Korean coast.
“I wasn’t originally a laborer, so the labor was hard at first,” Lim said in Korean. “But now I’ve gotten used to it.”
When asked if the crimes he had “allegedly” committed were for being a dissenter against the North Korean Regime, he replied “I think so”.
“I admit I’ve violated this government’s authority, system and order,” he further stated. “They asked me to help destroy the (North Korean) system and spread propaganda against the government.”
Lim, a South-Korean born Canadian was a pastor at one of Canada’s largest churches, the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ontario, and visited North Korea more than 100 times in the last twenty years in the attempt to help establish various orphanages and orphan homes throughout North Korea.
Lim has been in custody since February 2015 when he was sentenced to life; mostly consisting of hard labor for attempting to use religion to overthrow the North Korean government.
62-year-old Kim Dong Chul, the American prisoner discussed his past, stating that he was a resident of the United States who had lived in Virginia before he moved to the Chinese border city of Yanji in 2001. Fast forward 15 years later, Chul was arrested in Rason, an economic zone in North Korea for espionage this past October.
“I’m asking the U.S. or South Korean government to rescue me,” stated Chul while being interviewed in Korean at a hotel in Pyongyang; watched by several Korean guards.
According to Chul, he was a spy for “South Korean conservative elements”, and is personally filled with hatred towards North Korea”, being tasked by South Korea to “take photos of military secrets and scandalous scenes”.
The American government has yet to comment on the exclusive interview, but if his claims are true, he would be the only U.S. citizen held prisoner in North Korea following the release of two U.S. nationals in November 2014.
Since Chul has yet to be officially charged like his Canadian counterpart Lim, he is currently receiving decent nourishment; even receiving three meals a day and having access to local newspapers and television.
When asked about North Korea’s supposed hydrogen bomb that was allegedly detonated on Jan. 6, Chul stated that this is the time, “for the U.S. government to drop its hostile policies against North Korea.”
“Seeing that this H-bomb test has succeeded now is the time to abandon hostile policies and work to help North Korea,” stated Chul.
“The U.S. needs to find a way to reconcile with North Korea. I think the main way to do that is with a peace treaty.”
When asked about whether these statements were simply a piece of North Korean propaganda, perpetuated by the growing tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world, Chul stated that this was not the case, insisting that Western Media had simply “misunderstood” the situation entirely.
Despite these claims, this wouldn’t be the first time that North Korea had used confessions given under duress from the North Korean state.