News I Pick

September 3, 2007

Who should pay the bill for Korean hostages?

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Korean Hostages in Afghanistan You all probably heard the story of 23 Korean hostages held by Talibans in Afghanistan. The good news that came in the end of last week about letting free the remaining 19 hostages was such a joy for me personally, since I was watching news about them everyday while in Korea for the past months and I felt truly sorry for them. I was also touched by the way the Korean media reported this event and by the way the whole country supported the families of the victims. And I just could not comprehend why would the Taliban terrorists choose Korean missioners as their targets. Well, apparently they did not choose them as targets, they just managed to get some foreigners and they did not care much about who they are and that the Korean government have no power whatsoever. They realized that later, when they demanded the release of Taliban members held prisoners by the Afghan government.

Anyway, my story is about what followed the release of this prisoners, or to be more specific the comments some other governments made. I am just furious about all this. Talibans have been quoted saying the Korean government paid $20 million for this release. Later that fact was denied by both sides, although some other Afghan officials have said a sum slightly under $1 million was handed over. The fact that Korean government negotiated with terrorists was seen by other governments (which I think is not even worth to specify which) as a weakness and that Seoul have set a dangerous precedent in directly negotiating with Talibans. I say good for them, Koreans at least did something for their citizens and it doesn’t matter either they paid for their release or not, what matters they saved lives. And thanks to the Korean government which managed to do something, when all the others who could do something just stayed aside and are making comments now.

Another thing that touched me is the way the freed hostages apologized to the whole country they let to worry, to the Korean government which lost its face because of them and to the families of 2 killed hostages. They can only gain my respect for that, but then I heard another news that the hostages and their families will have to pay back the Korean government all the expenses they had by conducting negotiations with the terrorists and all the travel expenses for flying Korean officials to Afghanistan. I think this is cruel, I mean, after everything they being through – to make them pay? If anyone should pay the bill, that should be the government which started the war there.

I cannot judge anyone, Afghanistan’s situation is not something that can be easily solved. It’s been so for tens of years and will probably be so for another decades. All I want to say is stop blaming somebody for saving lives, better make sure you can do the same. And it is also not fare to make this poor missioners held hostages to pay the bill.

Korean Hostages beeing freed.

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