Farewell Korea, I Loved You So (Act II)

Andrei Marks · August 16, 2007

More of the same from the Global Journal (世界报), 07-08-15 print, on page 7 under the Specialist News Commentaries section. The author is Yuan Li, who prepared it for this paper.


Two key leaders in charge of handling this hostage situation don’t want to make this announcement themselves, because it would magnify the situation’s high degree of political sensitivity, and will also make the diplomatic dilemma of Korea’s struggling alone that much more obvious.

An assistant professor in the political science department of America’s UCLA, Moxi Lin, has stated,”However, this doesn’t mean the Bush administration won’t actively work hard for the safe release of the South Korean hostages. I am certain that Washington is right now carrying out many types of rescue attempts. After all, in America’s eyes South Korea is still a very important ally, and the Bush administration can in no way turn a blind eye towards this problem.”

Yet in March of this year, pressured by the Italian government, Karzai released several Taliban officials in order to secure the release of the kidnapped Italian reporter Mastrogiacomo. One of them was the Taliban spokesperson Hajimi, who had been captured in Pakistan.

But if severasl foreign hostages are now faced with a “death ticket”, the United States and Karzai’s government will not be willing to bend the rules. Last time, the United States bent under Europe’s pressure and tacitly consented the the Afghani government’s prisoner release. This time, despite much imploring from the South Korean government and people, the “no negotiating with terrorists” banner has been taking. To compare the two really makes one sigh.

- South Korea Erupts in Anti-American Fervor

Bush’s and Karzai’s unyielding stance on no negotians not only does nothing to help the circumstances, but it also complicates the situation. In the last several days the Taliban has pledged every day that if the two do not change their standpoint, they will have the face the hostage’s “miserable conditions”. It is difficult to imagine how the South Korean government and the hostages’ families can endure these types of threats. With the lack of resolution in the development of this situation, the public sentiment in South Korea is like a spear pointed towards Washington. According to a poll carried out by the South Korean “Central Daily Paper”, 76.9% of those polled hope that America will go into action, and will take on an active role in the resolution of this problem. Not a few political commentators worry that the American-South Korean will be injured because of this.

The current eruption of anti-American sentiment reflects the South Korean peoples’ dissatisfaction. South Korea’s left wing has for the past several years steadily protested South Korea’s sending troops to the Middle East, and this hostage situation may be an opportunity to garner political support. The left wing criticizes America for being unwilling to persuade the Afghani government to release prisoners, and consider this as equal to disregard for the life and safety of the South Korean hostages. And if one takes the political inclinations of South Korean Christians into consideration, the hostage affair becomes even more complex. In Korea, a portion of the Christian clergy are always at the vanguard of anti-American demonstration parades. And a few South Korean left wingers want to place the blame of this situation on America’s head.

- Exchanging Hostages for Ransom Money May Be an Exit

According to the Washington Observer report, Gu Jie has said that the South Korean government is privately trying provide money to the Taliban in excahnge for the hostages; although this may incur Washington’s displease, it may be a lifeline for the hostages lying on their deathbeds. “It is said that the price for each hostage will probably be US$130,000, and the South Korean government will in the end have to pay in excess of US$2 million worth of ransom money,” stated Gu Jie, “But I think that if this money can secure the safe return of the South Korean hostages, then it’s worth it.”

(to be cont.)

Translator’s notes:
- Not sure if it’s assistant professor or associate professor.
- Also, don’t know about Moxi Lin, maybe Moishe?
- Ahh! I’ll finish and revise this tomorrow!

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