Pray for the Korean hostages in Afghanistan

This is a photo of the 23 South Koreans (18 women, five men) who were abducted by the Taliban in Afghanistan six days ago. The group includes doctors and nurses who went to Afghanistan to provide medical services for humanitarian purposes. These young people, filled with passion and idealism, were trying to make a difference in this broken world.

The militants have already killed one of the men in the group. They are demanding that eight of their jailed fighters be released, or the remaining hostages will be killed.

According to blogger eugenecho, who translated an article from Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, the man killed is Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu. He was 42 years old
was the leader of this relief group. He was on staff as the pastor of the Young Adult ministries in Saemmul Presbyterian Church which he helped to plant nine years ago and which has since grown to nearly 4,000 people. Pastor Bae is survived by his wife and his daughter.

This is a deplorable evil act that is being committed. It is unlikely that Korea will accede to terrorists’ demands, unlike what the Philippines did sometime back when some of its nationals got kidnapped. Hence, the fate of the hostages is really uncertain.

I hope we can join millions of Koreans and people around the world in praying for this group’s safe release and passage back to Korea.



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Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

5 thoughts on “Pray for the Korean hostages in Afghanistan”

  1. The South Korean commitment to the Afghanistan mission consists of 150 engineers and 60 medics with 1 KIA so far. They have been sent as requested by the US military. All of them are involved in reconstruction efforts and not combat operations again the Taleban.

    The Germans having a larger commitment but well, looks like the Taleban isn’t going to win the war but they are there to stay, with Pakistan off-limits to the US and internal strife going on there.

    Sure, they can hamper reconstruction efforts but now it’s strengthening the resolve of Afghans against the Talebans since they have a group to blame for all the shortcomings in reconstruction as compared to the Iraqis. Or is it they already had an infrastructure in place until the US Tomahawked all of them?

    Tell me about your opinion on what does the Taleban hopes to achieve kidnapping a bus load of innocent Koreans. I’ll prefer a Singaporean’s opinion than that of an American I read in the forums :)

    And of course, may the hostages be freed ASAP, unharmed.

  2. They were listed as “Christian volunteers” in a Reuters report. I wonder what does a Christian volunteer do in Afghanistan? why cant they just be “volunteers”?

    Could it be possible that they were part of a Christian evangelical or missionary team? the same thing happened in Iraq – when the soldiers moved in, so did many evangelical missionaries and churches – which is protected by the US military.


  3. aygee – I quote a statement issued by the Korea Muslim Federation:

    “The Korea Muslim Federation on Monday pleaded for the immediate release of 23 Korean citizens abducted in Afghanistan. The group made the call in a press conference at the Seoul Central Masjid in Hannam-dong, Seoul.

    The 18 women and five men “are doctors and nurses who went to Afghanistan to provide medical services for humanitarian purposes,” the federation said. “On behalf of the 140,000 Muslims in Korea, we earnestly appeal to our Muslim brothers in Afghanistan to help the Korean people be freed safe and return to their beloved families.” They added the safe return of the hostages “will play a great role in promoting mutual understanding between Islam and Korea and expand Islamic missionary work in Korea.”

    If volunteers can serve humanity under the flag of their home country, why is there a double standard when Christians do the same thing under the banner of their faith? I do not believe they were doing any overt proselytisation. That would be not just reckless, but unfruitful as well in a closed country like Afghanistan. The team leader who got killed was an experienced volunteer in Middle Eastern countries. He would have known better than to do that.

    ngxthree – The Taliban has clearly stated its aims — the kidnappers want their buddies in jail released. And because the Afghan govt was silly enough to give in by releasing militants in exchange for the Italian journalist some months ago, the Taliban felt they could try it again.

  4. Hi Gerald,
    I hope the ending is better for the rest of the Koreans than for the 2 already murdered Koreans.
    I think you might also agree that the Koreans were also naive or even reckless. I think the highway they travelled on was very dangerous and their presence there was a grave error of judgement.
    But no one deserves what they are experiencing now, notwithstanding one’s view of the war in Afghanistan/Iraq.
    I also feel for Iraqi civilians who live in fear and terror each day not knowing if they will see every family member safely home at the end of each day!
    How does one cope with such cruelty and senselessness?
    We will never understand what Iraqis are going thru. In a BBC interview, when asked what concerns them most, an Iraqi lady said, ” Please get somebody to remove the rotting bodies lining the streets!”


  5. I agree with you completely, Dr Huang. I really pray that the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq will stabilise soon.

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