Hyeon Soo Lim petition

(Photo : Courtesy of change.org/FreePastorLim) Supporters of Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim created a petition on Change.org on December 16. This image has been used in the campaign.

An online petition demanding the release of Korean Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim from imprisonment in North Korea was started on December 16, and as of 5:20 PM (PST) on December 23, the petition has over 51,300 signatures.

Lim, who was first arrested and detained in February during one of his regular trips to North Korea, was sentenced to hard labor for life during a 90-minute trial on December 16. He was found guilty of attempting to subvert the North Korean government.

Lim had traveled to North Korea over 100 times since the late 1990s, according to sources close to him, on humanitarian trips involving work in an orphanage, noodle factory, and nursing home, among others.

"His trips were not political in nature," the petition states. "The Canadian government needs to take strong, affirmative action NOW. If there is political will, Rev. Lim can be rescued. Please help us bring him home!"

"This is a chance for Canada to stand by its promise of protecting its citizens," wrote Emma Lim, a signatory from New Haven, CT. "Prime Minister Trudeau needs to act now and show the world that we've moved past the Harper era of neglecting our citizens in unlawful detention. Canada is better than this."

Lisa Pak, spokesperson for Rev. Lim's family and church (Light Presbyterian Church), said that though Lim's sentence is a harsh one, his supporters are hopeful that it would give more room for "diplomatic talks for his release [to] move forward rather than just stay in limbo."

"We're still asking people not to give up," Pak told CNN. "We're asking people to keep praying and we're asking the government not to give up."

Two Canadian diplomatic officials were able to meet Lim with a translator to confirm his mental and physical condition, which was found to be stable, according to Light Presbyterian Church's leaders who reported the information at a prayer meeting held at the church earlier this week.

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