South Korean hostages say left wills before Afghan trip

ANYANG, South Korea Tue Sep 4, 2007 4:12pm IST

Kim Ji-na (R) and Kim Kyung-ja, who were among the 23 Koreans kidnapped and freed later by the Taliban in Afghanistan, speak at a news conference at the Sam Anyang Hospital in Anyang, southwest of Seoul September 4, 2007.  REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

Kim Ji-na (R) and Kim Kyung-ja, who were among the 23 Koreans kidnapped and freed later by the Taliban in Afghanistan, speak at a news conference at the Sam Anyang Hospital in Anyang, southwest of Seoul September 4, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Lee Jae-Won

Related Topics

ANYANG, South Korea (Reuters) - South Korean Christian activists held hostage by the Taliban said on Tuesday about half of the group of 23 church volunteers had left wills before leaving for Afghanistan.

A few had said Christian prayers in secret so as not to anger their Muslim captors, two of the former hostages told a news conference.

"We prayed, taking turns, pretending we were talking and with our eyes open" said Kim Ji-na, 32.

Kim was one of two hostages freed on Aug. 13, about two weeks before the remaining 19 hostages were released.

The group was kidnapped in Ghazni province in southeastern Afghanistan on July 19 as they were travelling in a tour bus. The Taliban shot dead two male hostages in the early stages of negotiations.

"I had drawn up a will," Kim said. She said it had been suggested to the group as part of preparations for the trip.

Kim had no comment on the criticism levelled against the church for taking inexperienced volunteers into an area where Taliban forces are strong.

The remaining 19 returned home to an uncomfortable welcome last Sunday, with many Koreans blaming them and the church that sent them for an ill-advised mission to an obvious danger spot.

Prior to the ordeal, the South Korean government had issued warnings about Afghanistan and worked to revoke visas for its evangelical Christian groups trying to send hundreds to the country. Seoul now bans its citizens from travelling there.

Kim said one of the two murdered by the Taliban had been taking a walk when a captor came for him, saying he was going home. His bullet-riddled body was found a day later in a ditch.

A doctor treating the group said many hostages were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder but none showed signs of being severely beaten. All the former hostages are at a hospital in Anyang, south of Seoul.

A senior Taliban leader told Reuters last week that Seoul had paid $20 million for the hostages' release, but the South Korean government denies paying any ransom. It has been criticised internationally for striking a deal through direct negotiations.

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Nuclear Talks

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Cabinet Changes

Cabinet Changes

Hagel resigns as U.S. defence secretary.  Full Article 

Terrorism Threat

Terrorism Threat

UK faces biggest terrorism threat in its history - minister.  Full Article 

Facing a split

Facing a Split

Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa wins 2015 budget vote despite defection.  Full Article 

Suicide Attack

Suicide Attack

Bomber targeted police commander in Afghan volleyball game attack.  Full Article 

Budget Slash

Budget Slash

Indonesia's cost-cutting, economy-flying leader slashes travel funds.  Full Article 

Presidential Ballot

Presidential Ballot

Tunisia presidential vote heads into close run-off.  Full Article 

Mobile Boost

Mobile Boost

Bank on poor women and phones to drive growth in Africa, experts say.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage