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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Koreans react to hostage killings
Shim Sung-min is seen on TV screen at a railway station in Seoul - 31/07/07
Former IT worker Shim Sung-min is the second hostage to be killed

South Korea is reeling from the news that the second member of a group of South Korean Christian aid workers, taken hostage in Afghanistan, has been killed by the Taleban.

But readers have mixed views on how the government should handle the crisis, and whether the 23-strong group should have been in Afghanistan in the first place.


South Korean people are worried about the lives of the hostages. This rarely happens to Korean people. A few years ago, when South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il was beheaded in Iraq, the whole nation was united in its sympathy.

Chinsol Kim
The government shouldn't satisfy the Taleban's demands
Now opinion is divided. There are many different views, and many people are critical of the aid workers for ignoring a government travel advisory and going to a very dangerous place.

The problem is that South Korea has no special way to negotiate with the Taleban. It's very complicated.

On the one hand, we want our people to be released. But it's better to give a ransom, rather than to release Taleban prisoners. If you release prisoners, the situation will get worse.

Satisfying their demands is wrong. If you give something to terrorists, they'll start asking for more. Taleban prisoners were released recently in exchange for a kidnapped Italian journalist. The Taleban have figured out that the tactic works, and look what happens.

Whether the government should take full responsibility and pay a ransom to release the hostages has become a huge controversy in South Korea.

I've been reading internet forums and there are many opponents of negotiations insisting that the government should not give in to terrorists, even if that means the loss of 22 people's lives.


The issue of our hostages is a hot potato in South Korea now. Everybody is really shocked that a second hostage has been killed.

Many people, including me, feel so uneasy about this situation. But unlike so many other people, I fully understand why they went there.

TV footage of the group of hostages at a railway station in Seoul - 31/07/07
The group had been doing volunteer work in Afghanistan
Many people blame them and I don't like it when everybody considers this a problem of Christianity.

The problem is not that they are Christian, but that they were not prepared for the reality of this country. Only aid workers who have been trained by emergency relief experts should be allowed to go to difficult countries like Afghanistan.

Regardless of this, we have to make every effort to save their lives.

As a Christian I think that it's our obligation to help people. So I don't think aid workers should stop doing their work in other countries. I myself plan to do volunteer work in the Middle East and South Asia.

But I always have and will respect other people's religion. Prior to being Christian, we are human beings, we have different backgrounds and experiences.


Ro Jung Yun
The government can't do anything. Nothing is within their power
There are many opinions right now in South Korea.

There are people, myself included, who would like the government to send more troops to Afghanistan to take revenge for taking our compatriots hostages. But only after their release.

We should have our own military operation, which will be different from what existing South Korean troops are doing there at the moment. We should send 6-7,000 troops to take revenge for this attack.

I do realise though that this wish is unrealistic. There are presidential elections later in the year and there are different things on the agenda.

Right now though, our government can't do anything. Nothing is within their power. They can only pretend that they are trying to secure the release of the hostages. It's a foreign country, it's not even up to the Afghan government to decide. How do you make the Taleban do as you say?

South Korea has no option but to try and persuade Taleban supporters in and outside Afghanistan to exert their influence on the hostage-takers.


I expected this to happen, but still, it is shocking. It is possible that the Taleban will kill the hostages one by one, until their demands are met.

Actually people are not that interested in this story here. Yes, there's shock, but it's not as overwhelming as a few years ago when our compatriot was beheaded in Iraq. That was really shocking, especially because everyone viewed the execution video on the internet.

But now, people just get on with their lives. Presidential elections are coming and there are other things the media likes to concentrate on.

I think that Taleban prisoners should be exchanged in return for the release of the hostages - they are human beings and their lives are precious.

One thing that should be out of the question though is military action. Our government said that they are not considering it, but the fact that they are saying it means that there was talk about it.

The release of prisoners is the only option, otherwise the killings will continue.


There are two kinds of reaction to this story in Korea. Some people think that the government should do anything to secure their release.

But there are those who think that the hostages have asked for trouble themselves by going to a place like Afghanistan. They were advised against travelling there, yet they went with the full knowledge of what they are getting themselves into. So some people ask: Why should we care?

This shouldn't happen again. Aid workers should be very careful from now on
I personally think that it's the government's duty to try to secure their release. But negotiations with the Taleban won't be successful.

The more we negotiate with them, the more demands they are going to come up with. Their demands are not good for world peace. If they get money - they are going to use it for bad purposes.

I don't know what will happen to these people. But the important thing is that this doesn't happen again. Christian aid workers should be very careful where they go and how they conduct their business in Muslim countries.

Video footage of the held hostages

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