[korean christian] hostages in afghanistan

Update [August 30] All remaining hostages are now freed!  On the 43rd day of the Korean Christian relief workers hostage situation, the captivity has finally come to an end [but exchange of verbal drama will now ensue].  The remaining 7 hostages were released today.

Taliban militants in Afghanistan released seven hostages Thursday evening in two batches of four and three.

A Taliban negotiator Mullah Bashir told The Korea Times over the telephone that the release of the group of four _ two men and two women _ had been confirmed, while confirmation of the freeing of the other three had been delayed due to the long distance they had to travel. However, he said they were handed over to officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). [read full article]

Now, another long drama of words and worldviews will ensue.  Korean officials also agreed to order all Christian missionaries out of Aghanistan by this Friday as well.  As a Christian pastor, I have incredibly conflicted feelings over this matter but will post more on this later. 

Even in the recent days, I’ve read much criticism of both the [Korean] Christians Missions on their purported recklessness on this relief aid trip [which I sought to debunk in earlier posts] as well as the Korean government for caving into the demands of the Taliban.  Will there be escalating political ramifications?  Will the Taliban be empowered to further their tactics in similar manners? 

These questions are legitimate questions but I’m frustrated by the continual references to the 23 Korean Christian Relief group as the perpetrators in this entire ordeal.  They are NOT the perpetrators.   When have they stopped being the victims of a grave human rights violation?  While they had an agenda [simply by their faith in Jesus], they went to Afghanistan to help the people of Afghanistan.  The church that commissioned them had invested significant funds to help build a hospital and other elements of infrastructure. 

Let’s not forget the real perpetrators in this ordeal – the Taliban.  They’ve managed to get the Korean officials to agree to withdrawing their remaining quasi-troops, order all current Korean missionaries out of the country, agree to halt all future Christian involvement, and I’m certain that they’ve walked away with loads of cash.  What will the Taliban agree to?  What will they pay for the brutal murders of Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu and Shim Sung Min?  How is the global community holding them accountable?

Again, my prayer is that something like this doesn’t discourage people all around the world – regardless of their religious views- to pursue a desire to DO GOOD and help fellow humanity.  It is my prayer that this doesn’t discourage Christian missionaries around the world to pursue their convictions in both communicating and demonstrating the gospel and grace of Christ. 

There is much to be learned here so may we learn together.  For now, I’m so thankful that the remaining hostages are all freed now.  While I was hopeful and prayerful, I had my doubts so this outcome is amazing and an answer to many prayers lifted up by the larger Church.   Soon, they’ll all be back home to enjoy their loved ones [and the barrage of media and public overdose and scrutiny].

My condolensces to the parents, wife, children, and other family members of Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu and Shim Sung Min.  May these two not be forgotten…

Update [August 29] [8.30am PST] It is now confirmed that two more groups of 5 and 4 more hostages were released totaling 12 total hostages freed today [Yonhap News].  7 more hostages are to be released in the next couple days.

It appears that all hostages will be released. This is certainly news for celebration…But now, be prepared for the [mostly negative] stories to begin trickling about the Korean government having no backbone and caving into the Taliban demands.  Let’s get everyone home first and then the debates can begin…

Korea Times has a timeline of the events from its beginning to this current situation.

[2.21am PST] It is now confirmed that the Taliban has released 3 [female] hostages  [NY Times] and more may be released within hours according to various news sources.


Taliban militants released three South Korean hostages on Wednesday, the first of 19 captives scheduled to be freed under a deal struck between the insurgents and the South Korean government.

The three, all women, were first handed to tribal leaders, who took them to an agreed location where officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross picked them up, according to an Associated Press reporter who witnessed the hand over.

The three hostages released [pictured above] are Ahn Hye-Jin, Lee Jung-Ran, and Han Ji-Young.  Hostages are being released at different times because they were [are] held captive in different locations.  Several more will likely be released later today and the rest over the next couple days.  

Honestly, I’m still amazed… 


Update [August 28] *Another update:  All Korean hostages to be released.  More details will need to be worked out but let’s hope and pray that the Taliban will follow through on this arrangement.

Seoul welcomes the deal, but spokesman Cheon Ho-sun cautioned that many details must still be worked out and the aid workers will not be released immediately.

Under the terms of the agreement, South Korea agreed to stick by its previous decision to withdraw its 200 non-combat troops from Afghanistan, which work mostly in an engineering and medical capacity.

In addition, Seoul will halt all Christian missionary work in Afghanistan.

Another read via International Herald Tribune. I’m withholding commentary for the time being. 


On the 40th day of the Korean Christian hostage situation, a Taliban commander tells CBS News that some hostages [like 3 -4 women] will likely be released soon…

The Taliban will free three or four South Korean hostages — likely women — after face-to-face negotiations Tuesday, a senior Taliban commander tells CBS News. The remaining hostages will likely be released in small groups in the coming weeks, according to the commander. [read full article]

Korean news sources are taking a more conservative approach on the matter.  Yonhap News reports that Korean diplomats are hoping for the release of hostages

Here’s a recently published video of the mothers of the Korean hostages pleading for the return of their children.  They communicate in Korean but also recite a few sentences in the Afghan languages.  The most frequent Korean phrase used in this video is phonetically spelled “Woori  Cha Shik” which is translated “Our Children.” 

40 days of captivity.  Set them free!

Update [August 25] News is trickling throughout different sources that negotiations for the release of all 19 remaining hostages may come to fruition in the next couple of days.  Wow. 

My guess is that something is clearly in the works but as to not give people [and especially the families of the hostages] false hope, news of the release of the hostages will be denied until they actually PYHSICALLY released.

Regardless, this is very hopeful.  Let’s continue to be in prayer.  Also, the video below is from BBC News which highlights one of the female hostages who volunteered to stay so that someone else can go.  Her parents share some of the content of the letter she wrote to them.  It’s worth checking out.


Update [August 24] As the Taliban grows impatient, they have issued another threat to take the lives of the hostages [JoonAng News]. Today, the two freed Korean female hostages conducted an exclusive video interview with Al Jazeera and pleaded for the life of the remaining hostages.  I have posted the YouTube video below.

Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera, in an interview broadcast on Thursday, Kim Kyung-ja and Kim Jee-na said the relief they felt at their release was overshadowed by the plight of the remaining hostages. 

“You probably think we are happy now, with our families. In fact, we can hardly sleep at night,” said Kim Jee-na. 

“I understand that Islamic teachings give priority to life and family. Please release our co-workers as soon as possible.”


Lee Jee-young, one of the hostages and who had also been working as a translator for the group, gave up her place as one of the hostages to be freed. 

“We were very worried when we heard that Jee-yong volunteered to be left behind,” said Kim Jee-na.   “But the Taliban allowed Jee-yong to write a letter to her family which consoled her and gave her some hope that she would come home soon.”

Update [August 22] Negotiations between the Taliban and Korean officials have been at a near standstill since the release of the two Korean female hostages.  New reports indicate that the Taliban are losing patience.   Meanwhile, the Korean officials are simply asking for more time.  Several of the Korean hostages seem to have grown in their resolve and courage and have gone on a hunger strike.

I recently received an email today from a fellow minister in the United States who “confessed” that he had no idea that this was going on until he stumbled onto this blog.  Let’s do our part to both pray and help bring light to this situation.

I’m approaching the busiest 6-8 week stretch in a while.  If you run into resources, news, or other contributions, send them this way…


Update [August 19] Today marks the 31st day [one month] of the Taliban’s captivity of the Christian hostages  in Afghanistan.  Current face to face negotiations between the Taliban and Korean officials have failed but a new deadline has been set for the lives of the captives.  According to the purported spokesperson of the Taliban, their “Leadership Council” will determine the fate of the hostages.  More disturbing news: another relief aid worker, a German woman named Cristina Meier, was kidnapped by “gunmen assailants” at an eatery in Kabul, Afghanistan.  She is said to be 5 months pregnant

When news of the Christian relief workers first broke out, I was surprised and upset at the lack of visual media coverage.  I had to scour the internet and especially Korean news sources to obtain information.  During prayer for the hostages and their families, I decided to daily update this blog entry for one month.  It has taken much time but I’m glad to know that it has been of service to some.

While I will obviously continue to keep up on this situation, I will not be updating this entry regularly but sporadically.  If you are interested, here are some others news sources that may be helpful for you as you both enter the story and pray for the 19 remaining hostages: 

Help spread the word and let’s continue to pray.


Update [August 18] The two freed hostages were unaware of the deaths of their pastor [Bae Hyung Kyu] and friend  [Shim Seong Min] until they were notified during their flight back to Korea.  As you can assume, they were shocked and deeply saddened…

Tomorrow is the ONE MONTH MARK of this hostage crisis.  Let’s continue to pray and advocate for our fellow brother and sisters.  19 hostages still remain in captivity with the Taliban.

Update [August 17]  The two female hostages who were released, Kim Kyong Ja and Kim Ji Na, arrived back safely to Korea.  In some brief comments to the media: 

“I want to thank the Korean government and the Korean people for their concerns and sincerely apologise for causing such worries…I hope for the safe release of the rest of our team members as well.” [Kim Kyung Ja]

“All I wish for is the release of the rest of our team members.” [Kim Ji Na]

You can read news of their return here.  These Korean Christians, from the outset of this incident, have received heavy criticism from the larger Korean culture for “causing this trouble.”  It is my sincere hope that these fellow Christian brothers and sisters would not be discouraged – either for their faith or for their convictions to go to Afghanistan.  While this has caused much anxiety and pain, I do pray that the bigger picture would not be lost in translation.  These Christians were pursuing their convictions as followers of Christ – not only with words but their deeds.  They were seeking to DO GOOD and that should be celebrated.

You can read more about the story of another Korean female hostage forgoing her opportunity to be released by asking they release one of the more ill women below. 



Update [August 16] The Taliban and Korean officials will continue direct negotiations and that’s good news.  Praying for a breakthough:

And if you missed it yesterday, make sure you read this article.  Also, read this “sincere Islamic advice.”

Update [August 15] According to Korean news sources, another female hostage was picked to be released.  The other female has yet to be identified but she asked that Kim Kyong-Ja be sent home instead of her.  Why?  She told the Taliban that she was not as ill as the other woman [Kim Kyong-Ja] and asked that she be sent home.  Wow, what an amazing story…  Meanwhile, negotiations over the 19 remaining hostages continue  but not face to face.

This is a must read article by Ann Lovell for Baptist Press:

“I spend one day in heaven and one day in hell. I am constantly shuttling between these two places.” Mrs. Chey Pok Lee wipes her eyes as she describes the agony of waiting for news of her 38-year-old son, Chong Hee Chey, one of the 19 Korean hostages still being held by Taliban militants in Afghanistan.

Chey, an overseas marketing agent with a Korean electronics company based in Seoul, has been on previous humanitarian aid trips, to Turkey in 2006 and India in 2005. He also has taught English to Korean students in an English language institute. He went to Afghanistan as an interpreter for doctors and nurses on the 23-member Korean team that was taken hostage on July 19.

And he went just to play with the children. “He learned magic so that he could entertain the Afghani children,” his mother said. “He also left Seoul loaded with toys, books and other things that he thought the children might need and enjoy.”

Further along in the article:

Sharing the love of God cross-culturally is not new to Saemmul Presbyterian. Currently, the church sponsors 47 Christian workers in 14 countries. For the last five years, seven of those have been based in Afghanistan. Three of the seven are among the hostages.

“These young men and women went to Afghanistan with a burden to repay a debt of love,” a church spokesman explained. “The nation of Korea received unconditional love and assistance from numerous nations around the world when we were wrecked by war more than 50 years ago. Because of this, our debt of love extends beyond race, religion and borders. It was the prayer of this team and of our church that the children in Afghanistan would learn from us how to grow and act in love.”

And more encouraging thoughts:

In addition, about half of the family members who are meeting together are not Christian. Now, Park said, “Both Christian and non-Christian families are praying, reading Scripture and finding comfort in each other and in God.”

Jin Pyo Shim, a state congressmen, is the father of Sung Min Shim, the second man to be executed. Before the crisis, he was not a Christian. However, Park reported that shortly after his son’s death, the father confessed faith in Jesus Christ…

“It is only through prayer that we have been able to endure these hard times and it is only through prayer that we will survive,” Yu said. “It is our prayer that this tragedy will unite the Korean church and that revival and spiritual renewal will be the result. Please pray for us.” [Read full article]


Update [August 14] The big news of yesterday and today has been the release of the two female hostages.  Two Korean news sources provide great info:  Two Hostages Freed by Taliban [JoonAng Ilbo] and  Two Released Hostages Safe [Chosun News].  Also, video news from BBC.  Let’s continue to lift up the 19 remaining hostages and their families in prayer.

Also, an article entitled Costly Commitment was published in Christianity Today [and available online] about the hostage situation.  I was quoted in the article.  After a half hour interview, it’s frustrating to be reduced to one or two sentences and to give the impression that I was being critical of this missions/relief aid group.  [Read more here].

Update [August 13]  The Taliban have released two female hostages and it has been confirmed by Korean officials.  The two released hostages are Kim Ji Na  [32 and digital animation artist] and Kim Kyong-Ja [37 and computer software worker] – pictured below being released to Red Cross officials. 


Welcome back home.  Negotiations continue for the 19 remaining hostages.

Please keep the church, parishioners, and the families of the victims from yesterday’s church shooting in Missouri.


Most news sources indicate that the two female hostages will be released by the Taliban some time today.  In news that make sense, the Afghan government has banned media from the location where the negotiatons are taking place to prevent media attention for the Taliban. 

For those who’ve surmised that the reason why the media hasn’t covered this story was to not give attention to the Taliban is simply wrong in my opinion.  You can cover the story without building a platform for the Taliban and their distorted cause.  The simple reason that it isn’t covered is that the powers to be have deemed this un-newsworthy.  And well, not many are complaining.  Honestly, that’s somewhat understandeable because the media is unpredictable but the silence of the larger Church is shocking to me.  Several months ago, the news of the so called Hybels and Driscoll fiasco at the 2007 New Church Conference spread like wildfire to the point that it shot up the list of the ten most searched, blogged, and discussed topic on Technorati.  But who wants to talk about 23 kidnapped Korean Christian relief aid hostages?

But just in case those who do care are losing your motivation to care, share, or pray, check out the new video below.   As an American citizen, as a person that loves democracy, as a person born in Korea, and as a fellow Christian and a lover of Christ, I want these hostages and their families to know that they are not forgotten.  We are praying for them…

Update [August 12]  After much confusion [CNN via Reuters] about the Korean Christian hostages, a Taliban spokesperson now says: Not releasing hostages – yet.

In the first face-to-face negotiations with South Korean officials on Saturday, Taliban leaders reportedly agreed to set free two sick female hostages as a sign of good faith but they later shelved the plan, according to Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, who describes himself as speaking for the Taliban.

“The plan to release two female hostages first is still valid, but the timing has not been fixed yet,” Ahmadi told Yonhap News Agency by telephone.


I’m speechless and if my parents didn’t read this blog, I’d swear up a storm.  In a series of confusing news today, the Taliban had apparently released two of the sick female hostages as a “gesture of goodwill.”  However, the latest news in a simple phone call/news release through Yonhap news:

The Taliban have decided not to release any of the 21 South Korean captives yet, a self-styled Taliban spokesman said Sunday, dashing hopes of a breakthrough in the protracted hostage crisis.

“Our leaders have changed their minds and decided not to free two female hostages,” Yousuf Ahmadi told Yonhap News Agency by telephone.

Hoping and praying that something was “lost in translation” and that the Taliban will follow through and release these two hostages very soon.  And the rest of the hostages as well.  If the question two weeks ago was, “Does anyone care?” — the question we should we asking now is, “Does anyone even remember…?”

Other news sources:  Koreans Can’t Confirm News [Bloomberg]; South Korea says “No Comment” [Reuters]


Update [August 11]  Great news.  Two female hostages have been released by the Taliban [Al Jazeera]:

 Two South Korean women held hostage in southern Afghanistan for more than three weeks have been released by their captors, according to the Taliban.Two spokesmen for the movement said the women were ill and had been freed as a “gesture of goodwill” after face-to-face talks with a South Korean delegation ended on Saturday.


Face to face negotiations between the Taliban and Korean officials are continuing for a 2nd day.  We can only hope for the best outcome but the conditions appear to not have changed:  the Taliban want Taliban prisoners who are under U.S./Afghan custody to be released.  They can’t comply.  However, this news report from Associated Press [prematurely?] gives some hope: 

A Taliban leader taking part in hostage negotiations for the lives of 21 South Koreans said Saturday that talks are on a “positive track” and that he hopes the captives could be released “today or tomorrow.”

Wow.  Make it so…Pray.

Compelling glimpse into what the hostages’ families are going through:

With few breakthroughs in the kidnapping case, which has so far claimed the lives of two of the 23 Korean medical aid workers, each day is painful for the family members of the remaining hostages, said Kim Gi-woong.

Kim, 35, a brother of 32-year-old female hostage Kim Gi-na, said the health condition of many of the families in the church is deteriorating and two of the parents of the hostages are being hospitalized.

One of the other parents is receiving intraveneous fluid regularly at the church. A couple of doctors, including an Oriental medicine specialist, are giving the families free treatment at the church, he said…

Sitting against the wall, people with pale faces sat still, with their eyes closed, or were fixated on the 24-hour news channel on the big-screen television.  Others spoke in frail voices.

“When we eat, it has no taste,” Kim said. “But we squeeze the food into our mouths because we need to be alive to meet them.” [Read full story]

Update [August 10]  South Korean diplomats and negotiators [4 reps] have begun face to face negotations with the Taliban [2 reps].


No end in sight to this situation.  But as this story becomes more distant and forgotten [even in Korea because of the startling news of North/South Korea summit], it worries me what the captors will do to draw the world’s attention in the coming days.  However, the Taliban say no one will be killed until face to face negotiations take place.  When and where?  Let’s do this…send them home!

Compelling News and a Glimpse of Parents’ Love for their Children:  Mothers of South Korean Hostages to Seek Help from Arab World

The mothers of several South Korean hostages held in Afghanistan will travel to Dubai next week to seek help from the Arab world in securing their loved ones’ release, a spokesman for the families said Friday.

Five women and a translator will leave Monday for a five-day trip to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, said the spokesman, Cha Sung-min. Their exact itinerary had not yet been confirmed.

“The reason why we are sending women, especially mothers, to Dubai is that Islamic culture has more sympathy for women,” Cha said. [read full article]


Update [August 9] Three weeks = two dead.  21 still in captivity and no progess on the face to face negotiation = lots of pain and confusion.

No real progress in the past couple days.  However, a group of well known religious leaders,  Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), [after three weeks] demand the release of the hostages.  Also, the Peace Council, “21 prominent world religious and spiritual figures,” had this to say:

The international and interfaith Peace Council, 21 prominent religious and spiritual leaders, and the trustees of the International Committee for the Peace Council ask for the immediate and unconditional release of all the Korean hostages held by Taliban forces in Afghanistan. We ask our brothers in Afghanistan to consider the great distress of the hostages’ families and to have compassion. These hostages are innocent civilians, not party to any war or violence. We believe that they should not be harmed in any way or detained and that they should be freed to return to their families in Korea.  

We also ask the Afghan and coalition military forces not to intervene in this situation, believing that military action will endanger the lives of the Koreans held by the Taliban. We support the Korean government’s efforts to secure the release of their citizens without using military force. 

Although we understand that these hostages were on a humanitarian mission, they are associated with a Christian church in Korea. We ask the Christian churches who have sent missionaries to proselytize in Islamic countries to stop this practice. We think it is disrespectful to Muslims and for that reason Christians who believe in loving their neighbors should not do it.  

Lives are at stake; the matter is urgent. We ask all people of faith and organizations working for peace to join us in this appeal. Please act now. Finally, we pray for a true and lasting peace in Afghanistan and in all the world.

I don’t really get it: “We ask that Christian churches who have sent missionaries to proselytize in Islamic counries to stop this practice.  We think it is disrespectful to Musilms and for that reasons Christians who believe in loving their neighbors should not do it.” 

What?  These folks were Christians not there to convert people by force, manipulation, sword, or imperialism but rather to demonstrate their faith and convictions through care and compassion.  Is that so wrong and disrespectful?  Is it me or are they implying that the hostages are partly to blame?  OK, another post, another time.  For now, let’s focus on prayer and the work at hand:  Send them home!  A recent video from families as they communicate, heart to heart, to the nation and people of Afghanistan.


Update [August 8] The NY Times has a great article on the stories [a glimpse of the people] behind the story:

Seo Jeong-bae was not too worried when his daughter and son, both Christians, told him last month that they were going to Afghanistan on an aid mission to help children in the Islamic country.

His daughter had already traveled to Uzbekistan, India and Uganda for volunteer work. “Father, don’t worry,” she told her father, who is not a Christian. “We don’t proselytize. How can I? I can’t even speak the language.”

Mr. Seo supported his children’s trip because he knew what it was like to be a child growing up in a war-ravaged country; he was born in February 1950, four months before the outbreak of the Korean War.

“Whenever I saw those poor children on television, I thought of my own childhood,” he said. “I felt good and proud when my children left for Afghanistan.” [read full article]

Links: Military Option should be Last Resort [Yonhap News]; More About the Female Hostage Swap [Al Jazeera]; New Appeal to Free Hostages [LA Times]

My daily updating on this situation isn’t to convey that this is the MOST important issue in our world today.  It is to simply convey that in the landscape of much that requires attention, compassion, justice and prayer, this is also one of them.  In a conversation today, I asked the question, “What would the world be like if people pursued the convictions of their hearts?”  In my life of paradox, contradictions, and hypocrisy, I am seeking to Love God and Love People.

This is something that goes on EVERY DAY and also calls our hearts, prayers, and passions.  In many ways, I believe this is why the Korean Christian Relief Mission team from Saemmul Church went to Afghanistan:  Not to evangelize Afghanistan with an Imperialistic Agenda but rather, the hope and grace of Christ demonstrated through the power and beauty of actions.  And why the author of that blogpost, Kate, [a young 21 year college student, follower of Jesus, Quest attender, and QCafe barista], will be returning to Uganda with a few other Quest college students and a group of other Univ. of Washington students to pursue their convictions.  Cynicism and hopelessness is not the answer.  Hope has been given and so hope must be extended. 



Update [August 7]  Today, a video from Ryu Haeng Shik to his wife, Kim Yun Yeong [one of the Korean Christian hostages in Afghanistan] was posted on YouTube as a plea to the Taliban to release her and the other hostages.   His letter has also been published in numerous places.  This is the first of a series of letters entitled, “Love Letters to Korean Hostages in Afghanistan.”

Prominent News today:  Taliban wants to swap two Korean female ill hostages for two female Taliban prisoners; Bush and Karzai agree to not give into Taliban [Chosun News] and [CNN].  No surprise there but you have to ask the question: Are they doing all that they can.  Despite what was initially stated, this kidnapping had NOTHING to do with the hostages being a Christian Relief Group.  So, let’s stop with the bashing of Christians or Korean Christians. 

I know that I’ve already complained about the lack of attention this has received from both the media and the larger [C]hurch.  For me, it’s so very simple:  If the US is at war against terrorists such as the Taliban, why wouldn’t you highlight this story in some way or another?  Doesn’t this support the cause?  Particularly, if it’s a group of innocent civilians who trained for SIX months to go to provide relief and aid?  *And to clarify, I’m not saying that there hasn’t been ANY covergae whatsoever but rather, a dearth of focused coverage.

The lack of attention in the larger Church is more enraging.  In my perception, news of the situation only seemed to spread a little more after the killing of the 2nd hostage.  These are Christian missionaries and relief workers.  These are brothers and sisters in Christ.  But hardly a whimper.  Does that make sense?  Is the larger church that fragmented? 

Someone emailed and asked a simple question: 

“Why are you wasting your time by posting updates every day?  Let’s face it…You nor I can do anything…God is in control.”

My response:  It is true that I am spending more time than I want on this blog.  I try to give myself no more than 45 minutes each day but have broken my own rules.  And I also agree that ultimately, God is in control.  I believe that God is able and will redeem this situation…  But, before you get carried away, let’s not stop caring, believe, hoping, praying, or working just because you have what I call a hyper steroidified version of Calvinistic worldview.  I share these updates because outside of Korea and some of Asia, the stories of these 23 people – innocent civilians, mothers, children, husbands, and wives, doctors and nurses, relief workers, Christians living out their faith, missionaries with a plan not to blindly oppress and proselytize the Afghani people with forced or manipulative evangelism but rather, faith demonstrated in compassion and care – will never be heard.  They will simply be forgotten.  Their compassion and their courage will be forgotten.  Their purpose will be forgotten…

And finally, while I acknowledge the situation looks very dim, let’s not let that discourage us from ENTERING into their STORIES.


Update [August 6]  It appears there is no end in sight to this situation.  Earlier today, the Taliban renews its threat on the 21 hostages: “We can start killing the hostages anytime.”

Yesterday, a female hostage [Im Hyun Joo] was allowed to call the UN Secretary General and plea for help.  Read Todd Kim’s blog to read more about his personal reflections as he and his wife personally know this hostage, Hyun Joo.

“Every day it’s really hard to survive. We really want to go home. We are all sick and weak,” she said in English to the Voice of America radio station by phone.

“We are innocent people. We came here to help the people, but now we are all sick.

“Dear Mr General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon, please save us… We don’t want to die.”

But earlier today, there was a minor “breakthrough” as Korean officials were permitted to speak directly and make contact with one of the Korean hostages and communicate in Korean.  In all previous interviews or phone calls, the hostages were never permitted to speak in Korean out of fear that they might reveal too much information about their situation or their whereabouts.

Also, Afghan doctors were also permitted to deliver [by airdrop] medicine for the Korean hostages.  Let’s hope that it will be delivered to them. 

Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, arrived to the US today and is scheduled to meet with President Bush on Monday [today] to supposedly discuss the hostage crisis.


Update [August 5] The family of Shim Sung Min’s buried his body today.  Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu’s family remains steadfast in their decision not to bury his body until all the hostages are released and return home.


Update [August 4]  As talked are delayed until after the US Summit [August 5 and 6], people are now just waiting and praying which may be the most difficult things to do at this point.  I just can’t imagine what the respective families of the hostages must be going through – let alone the hostages.  The families of theses hostages have chosen to write a series of letter to their families in hopes of appealing directly to the Taliban.  Letters are written in Korean and translated directly into Pashto, the language spoken in Afghanistan and also in English. 

The first letter is written by Ryu Haeng-Shik to his wife, Kim Yun-Yeong – one of the 18 female hostages taken captive by the Taliban.


Translated into English:

To my lovely wife, 

Honey, it must be hot and difficult there. I have no words to say to you other than that I am sorry.  I can’t be more hateful of myself for eating and sleeping at a time when you must be really sick and going through so much hardship.

I told our children that you are staying with the children in Afghanistan a bit longer because you love the people there so much. The children are really proud of you for helping people living in poverty and distress. You must really miss our children, our darling children, our children that you so dearly love. Although you may desperately want to see them, we must be patient for a bit longer. For the sake of our children, stay strong and healthy and please hold on to positive thoughts.We will see each other soon. I am proud of you. Although it may be hard and difficult, please hang on for a little bit longer. I am sorry. I am really sorry, all I can say is that I am sorry. I love you, I truly love you.

As we continue praying, may we also remember the situation with the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis and the “worst ever” flooding in South Asia.  Please consider giving through:  World Vision and Mercy Corps amongst others.


Update [August 3] Korean diplomats are going to meet directly with the Taliban amidst the possibility of military action [Yonhap News].  Also, S. Koreans in Afghanistan for talks with Taliban [Reuters] and Taliban Willing to Meet Koreans for Direct Talk [JoongAng Daily].

However, another tension is mounting:  relations between Korea and United States.  In Korea, there is escalating public frustration, pressure, and anger about the perception of the lack of US support and cooperation.  In my opinion, this is part of the Taliban strategy.  While I completely understand the frustration of the Korean public, we must remain united.

“What can we do?”  Not much but rather than being a bystander, we can enter into this situation and invite others to be aware and mindful, and to pray.  Prayer matters – for us and for them.   So, read this prayer

Another interesting read is Newsweek’s exclusive interview with a Taliban commander and their strategy behind the abduction of these hostages.  They were captured with hopes of swapping them for 115 Taliban prisoners.  Despite what people initially perceived, this hostage situation did not have much, if anything, to do with the Christian Relief Team’s “proselytization.”  While people can question the wisdom of this group entering into a “country of war,” the article points to the innocence of this Christian relief aid group [at least in my opinion].

Taliban Subcommander Abdullah was on the lookout for hostages. Ever since his superior, Commander Daro Khan, was arrested by U.S. forces in Ghazni province’s Qarabagh district in June, Abdullah has had his men patrolling the main Kabul-to-Kandahar highway that runs through the province, watching for foreigners to kidnap. The goal: to exchange the prisoners for Khan and other Taliban operatives in Afghan and U.S. custody.

On July 19, Abdullah’s men got lucky. A pair on motorcycle patrol spotted a large, white passenger bus, traveling with no armed security escort. The fighters immediately pulled their motorcycles alongside the bus and pointed an AK-47 and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher directly at the bus driver’s head. Rather than speeding up and trying to outrun the gunmen, the driver stopped and the 23 South Korean Christian aid workers riding on the bus were trapped.


Update [August 2]  I awoke yesterday morning to hear purported breaking news of a military rescue mission.  But as folks already know, it was an error.  There was no military action.  If anything, US and Korea agree to rule out military action – for now.  Perhaps, this incredibly important face to face meeting between the Taliban and South Korean diplomats will pave the way for a peaceful resolution.  In some fashion or another, the message must be: “Let my people go.” [Read this prayer].

I wrote up a very lengthy response to one of the emails I received today at the bottom of today’s entry.  Here are some other media reads about the situation and the Taliban threat to kill four more hostages:

The most encouraging news and what I’ve been waiting and clamoring for is something like this.  This should have happened the very next day this hostage situation took place.  Every nation or coalition needs to follow suit and publicly condemn this act – again and again.

I apologize to those who have emailed me with your comments and questions.  I haven’t and won’t have the time to respond to most of them.  I did want to share this one email that arrived today and attempt to respond to it:

I respect your post and your opinion on your recent post of the hostages.

However, let me ask you what you think we should do? We cannot for any reason give into their demands. Why? Because these will not be the only hostages taken. It opens the doors for people to blackmail again in the future.  If you don’t give into their demands and don’t give them press…they have won nothing.

I am sorry these individuals have and will have to suffer. I know you don’t believe this, but it has nothing to do with the race of the hostages. It has to do with terrorists and not giving in to the hatred they spread.

By the way…I think it is convenient how so many are willing to blame the U.S. for not getting involved in some situations and then blame them for getting involved in others. The U.S. can’t be everywhere at once and nowhere at all. Of course, it is always the fault of the U.S. isn’t it?

My Response:  Thanks for your email.  This is obviously a complex situation.  War always is.  I am not a brilliant strategist, military thinker, or political analyst.  I’m a 37 year old United States citizen that happens to also be of Korean descent.  I am Korean-American.  I am also a Christian and a pastor.   I share these elements to simply convey my worldview.  I see this hostage situation from the lens colored as an American citizen, a Korean-American born in Korea, a Christian who then obviously shares the faith of the 23 original hostages; and a pastor like Bae Hyung Kyu, the first martyr.  I was also on the pastoral staff years ago at a very large church – like Saemmul Presbyterian Church – in Korea.  Like Saemmul, we sent out hundreds of missionaries and relief groups all around the world.  I personally have led and participated in several trips somewhat similar to this group – albeit not as dangerous. 

No one has initially blamed the United States.  While there may be political jabs going back and forth on other blogs and conversations, my motivation has not been to create that sort of forum.  I think we can all AGREE that what is EVIL in this situation are the actions of the Taliban.  They have kidnapped and murdered.  I don’t care what anyone says about the proselytization element of this church group, it STILL does not justify the actions.

I understand the reasoning behind Afghanistan and US’s stance on not exchanging hostages.  It makes perfect rationale sense.  But if the roles were reversed, don’t you think the US would be clamoring and flexing for Korea to exchange hostages for US citizens?

Korea has proven itself to be a strong ally to the United States in the “fight against terror.”  This is why Korea has asked for “flexibility” from the United States in its hostage policy.  There’s a long relationship with US and Korea.  Imagine this situation from Korea’s perspective:  Their citizens are taken as hostages and like any responsible government, they want to work to free the hostages.  The Taliban require something for the freedom of the Korean citizens but it has nothing directly to do with Korea.  They want Taliban prisoners – held by Afghanistan and the United States.  Korea asks and both countries say, “No.”  What then is Korea to do?  One hostage executed.  Second hostage executed. Third…

I am not personally advocating for an exchange of hostages for the very reason you mentioned but the question must be asked:  Is the United States doing ALL that they possibly can do, with the exception of exchanging hostages, to work with Korea in bringing back these hostages?  I ask this question as a United States citizen.  Why?  Because it should be asked of us…

My other area of concern has been what I perceive to be the lack of focused attention and compassion by the media.  We all know the media wields much influence.  It both captures the heart of the larger culture AND simultaneously shapes and molds what we are seeing, hearing, feeling, and believing.  What we have seen [on the most part] are secondary, if even that, news items.  While it has a place in the cultural landscape and thus, news, I am personally overdosed of  Britney, Lohan, Vick, Bonds, and Paris.  But, that’s just me. While the media is a free enterprise, shouldn’t it also be guided by a moral compass of mercy, justice, and compassion?  Where is the outrage?

So, let me recap the story:  23 Koreans prepare, plan, and pray for a trip to Afghanistan.  It is a war torn country. It is dangerous but they go because no one else goes to Afghanistan.   The trip is led by Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu who leaves behind his wife and 9 year old daughter to lead this group for a 10 day relief trip.  The majority of the team are young Christians – 2os and 30s – who make sacrifices of finances, time and health to be a source of aid, blessing, and hope.  They are hosted by Im Hyun Joo, a 32 year old woman who had worked in Korea as a nurse but felt called to serve the people of Afghanistan through her skills and faith – particularly the children.  The brutal reality is they are kidnapped and taken as hostages.  Two are killed.  Two are reportedly deathly ill.  There are constant threats to kill all the hostages…

The world knows about it.  United States knows about it.  The media knows about it.  Christians know about it.  Do we care?

When we should be celebrating these young people for the choices [even as they appear  unwise now] they make to demonstrate mercy and compassion, our voices are silent.  There is hardly a whimper.  It’s on the news for a night – only to be drowned by the images of a distorted culture. 

The capital “C” church?  I’m sure there are folks and churches  mindful and praying about this situation but on the most part, it was really really quiet for a long long time. Feel free to share your thoughts but just don’t throw rocks.

Spread the Word.  Shout.  Cry.  Pray.  Blog.  Kneel.  Stand and Shout in Solidarity.  But don’t be silent.  Love Wins. 


Update [August 1]  News is breaking that an Afghan Rescue Mission Underway to Find Kidnapped Hostages [Reuters] and Fighting Has Started [BBC]; There are conflicting reports but it appears that it may have been “a routine operation.” That would make sense since Yonhap news earlier reported that Seoul Makes All Out Diplomatic Effort.  We’ll soon find out.  Let’s keep praying – for a peaceful resolution – however incredulous that may be at this point.


Does the world care? The body of Shim Sung Min was found today.  This picture and video convey the dark and grave reality of the situation.  According to Korean news sources, Sung Min’s parents had no idea that he was going to Afghanistan as he chose not to tell them.  He only told his younger brother.  Can you imagine how they must have felt when they discovered that he was actually one of the hostages?  Along with the notable reads below, read the exclusive interview of a purported Taliban spokesman with a Korean news source.  Also, see the faces of the remaining 21 hostages and think of them and the German hostage, Rudolph B, in prayer. 


The Taliban has also issued a new deadline for Wednesday.  In fact, Korean News [Joong Ang Ilbo] states that,

“The Taliban also upped the ante by threatening to kill the remaining hostages at a faster pace. “We will kill the male hostages step-by-step. Next will be the female hostages. The period between the killings will get shorter and shorter and the killing today is only the first step in these killings,” said Ahmadi in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

As expected, the families of the hostages are losing hope [CNN].  According to Korean news, two of the female hostages [per the Taliban spokesperson] are in very critical health conditions and that the Taliban are willing to exchange these two sick women for two Taliban prisoners.  But to give them and ALL of us a glimmer of hope, CBS News later reported that the Taliban “might stop killing hostages.”  

A high-ranking Taliban commander in Afghanistan with direct involvement in the capture and captivity of a group of South Koreans has told CBS News, “we might stop killing hostages, because our strategy may be changing.”

Notable Reads:  Korean Warns Taliban to Stop Atrocities [Chosun News]; Taliban resembles Al Qaeda? [Christian Science Monitor]; Korean urge US to Intervene [Al Jazeera]; Korean News Video about Sung Min’s murder; Buzz is [finally] starting to spread around blogosphere. 

Not sure what this will do but can’t hurt: Sign this petition.  Spread the word.  Share with your co-workers; write on your blogs; lift your prayers; voice your outrage; kneel, stand, and shout in solidarity. 


Update [July 31]  Seriously, does anyone care?  Is anyone else just tired of the Michael Vick story?  Why isn’t the media sharing more about the situation?  Anderson Cooper, where are you?  I really do not understand how this cannot be prominent NEWS here in the United States.  I understand that these hostages are not “Americans.”  They are Koreans and Asians and thus, considered by some as “others” here.  But, can’t people understand that the Taliban took these hostages as an attack and a statement – not to Christians or to Koreans, but to all those that  oppose them.  This was and is a statement to the US as well, right?  Isn’t that the reason why the first interview was given to CBS News, right?  Where is the outrage?  It pisses me off immensely that another person has been killed and it is barely mentioned.  My cynical prediction:  this won’t be front news until the Afghan president, Harmid Karzai, visits President Bush at Camp David on August 5 and 6 – that is, if the hostages are still alive.  Does anyone care?  Amongst Christian bloggers in the Western world, this one post kinda sums it up: “The Silence in the GodBlogosphere is Deafening.”   The only “political voice” that seems to be blogging about this regularly is Michelle Malkin…  Spread the word; lift your prayers; voice your outrage; kneel, stand, and shout in solidarity.

As I shared earlier today, a 2nd hostage has been killed.  The body has NOW been found by the Afghan police.  Please take a few moments to read the little bio of Shim Sung Min’s life. 


According to Korean news sources, Sung Min was 29 years old and single.  He used to work for an IT company but resigned two months ago to prepare for his Masters’ education [agriculture].  One of his passions was volunteering with the disabled community and other aspects of social work.  29 years old.  May he find comfort in the arms of His Savior.  Below is a picture of his father, Shim Jin Pyo, upon learning about his son’s execution as he prepares to address the media.  I have purposely chosen not to show pictures of Jin Pyo’s mother upon hearing of his death.  It is too painful…


Here are some noteworthy reads:  We Killed a Male Hostage [JoongAng News]; Chosun News Account of 2nd hostage; Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu’s body arrived in Korea today but his family was not there to receive the body.  Why?  They insist they will not see the body until all the hostages safely return to Korea.  Instead, they gather with relatives of hostages for a prayer vigil…It is what Pastor Bae would have wanted  according to his father.  But to no surprise, the families are all losing hope in the situation. Below is the video shown by Al Jazeera showing seven of the female hostages.


Update [July 30] A male hostage has been shot dead [Reuters].  Al Jazeera is reporting the person’s name is ‘Sung Sin’ but Korean news sources report the person’s full name as “Sung Min Shim” [Shim is his late name]. 

AFP news agency quoted a Taliban spokesman as saying: “We set several deadlines and the Afghan government did not pay attention to our deadlines.

“Finally tonight at 8:30 we killed one of the Koreans named Sung Sin with AK-47 gunshots.”


Hostages will Die Monday… [CNN]; Another Hostage [Lee Jin Young] is allowed to communicate.  This is first direct exchange with a Korean newspaper:

“We are sorry to have caused this trouble. We want to get out of here as soon as possible,” Lee Ji-young, 34, said she wanted to tell South Korea’s government…

Lee has been in Afghanistan since late in 2006, volunteering to teach computer skills to children and helping with medical treatment. She served as a guide and translator for the kidnapped mission group. She said that she had been sharing food with her kidnappers.

Little more stories and backgrounds about some of the other hostages [JoongAng News]; Muslims [in Korea] Pray for Safe Return and issue a letter to Koreans not to harm Muslims living in Korea; Pastor Bae’s body to be flown to Korea on Monday [NY Times] but Korean news sources says that his family insist that his body NOT be returned back to Korea until all hostages return home; A Plea from Afghan Leaders to Taliban to free Female Hostages;

Starting to get an increasing uneasy feeling about the coming days[s].  Perhaps, it is some of the headlines I’m reading.  Perhaps, it’s because they call this an impasse and something needs to happen.

Praying for a safe and peaceful end to this situation.  And birth to new possibilities for healing and reconciliation.


Update [July 29] Another female hostage [Yoo Jung Hwa] pleas for help.  My wife and I have been tracking the situation via the Korean news sources since news is much more accessible there.  This news hasn’t “broke” here in the Stateside yet but another female hostage was permitted to use one of the Taliban captor’s cellphone to call some Afghani authorities.  You can hear her describe their situation and her plea to the Korean and US government.  The newscast is in Korean but at the 22 second mark, you’ll hear the hostage communicate entirely [she’s an English teacher in Korea] for about a minute in English.

Also, more Afghan elders and a former Taliban member join the hostage talks [CNN]; But NY Times [via Reuters] is reporting that the Taliban ruled out more talks:

“There is no need for further talks. We have given the government a list of Taliban prisoners who should be released and that is our main demand,” he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

“The government needs to deliberate on it and if it wants to use force, then it will jeopardize the lives of the hostages and the Taliban will resist till the last gasp of their breath,” he added, but did not issue any new deadline.



Update [July 28] Entering day 8 and 9 of the hostage situation.  There is a noteworthy article in the NY Times about the situation of the hostages’ declining health as the latest deadline has passed.  Other news sources:  Urgent Talks as Envoy now In Kabul [JoongAng Daily]; Might Use Force[CNN]; Korea’s Muslims Gather for Prayer

This hostage situation has sparked lots of comments, criticism, and questioning of Korean churches, missionaries, organizations and such [Time Magazine’s article ].  While more details will come out soon and we can discuss more then, this is a time for the body of Christ to pray and kneel alongside these hostages and their families.  While there are harsh critics who think these hostages had it coming for proselytizing, they’ll never understand the PURPOSE and HEART behind the group.  There’s no deception here.  They served, helped, prayed, and shared because of their love for Jesus.  Is it such a bad thing to want to make this world – even a far away distant place – a little more reflective of the beauty, mercy, and compassion of God?

Korean Central Daily News [JoonAng Ilbo] has a moving interview with Im Hyun Joo’s brother [the female hostage that was interviewed by CBS news last night]. In this article, they spell her last name as “Lim.”  Does this sound like a person who has no regard, investment, passion, and care for the Afghan culture and people?

“She is in a dangerous situation, but she appeared to be calm,” her brother said.

According to her family, Lim used to work at Severance Hospital in Sinchon, Seoul. She left for Afghanistan three years ago to work in a medical mission. Her passion was clearly visible from her e-mail ID, “afghanlove,” the Lims said.

“Some say going to Afghanistan is reckless, but she went there because no one goes there to help,” her 34-year-old older brother said. “My sister has already adjusted to the local environment, so she could communicate accurately.”  CBS reported that Lim spoke in Korean and an Afghan dialect.


“She is the only daughter among four children. My parents initially opposed her decision to go to Afghanistan, but she had very strong desire to go. Her determination eventually persuaded my parents,” he said.


Her family and friends remember Lim’s brief visit to Korea last month, because she brought a young Afghan girl who had lost both her hands during the war. Lim sponsored surgery to provide the girl with artificial hands.


I hope the Taliban understand that the volunteers truly love Afghanistan. It is hard to understand that these young people, who went there to help those in need, are being held hostage,” Lim’s brother said.

In the future, while we must be all committed to prayer, discernment, planning, and safety, my hope is that Christians [and for that matter, all people] would not allow their convictions to be swayed and drowned by the fear that accompanies the calling to follow and obey Christ.



Update [July 27]  Lindsey Lohan, Michael Vick, Bonds, blah blah blah.  There’s more important things going on in the world.  Today, one of the female hostages [a native Korean LIVING in Afghanistan, the host of the group & also a hostage] was allowed to do a live interview with CBS News [audio link].  The woman’s name is Im Hyun Joo

“We are in a very difficult time. Please help us,” said a woman who introduced herself as Im Hyun-joo (32), a former nurse from Seoul, in a phone interview with U.S. broadcaster CBS.


Im speaks Dari, an Afghan dialect of Farsi. She spoke Korean and Dari in the interview. “All of us are sick and in very bad condition. We are all pleading for you to help us get out of here as soon as possible. Really, we beg you.” She said she was with 17 other women while the men were being held separately. [read full article from Chosun Ilbo]

To read more of an inside scoop to this woman, check out Todd Kim’s blog.  He and his wife know this woman personally and has pictures of them together on a previous trip to Afghanistan.  Coincidentally, I ran into Todd this past Tuesday in Seattle.  He writes:

Regarding the taped interview.  I think people should listen to it knowing that a Taliban terrorist could be standing next to her pointing a gun at her and telling her what to say.  There has been so much confusion and misinformation about everything that is going on, we wont know the whole story until they are freed.

I honestly believe that Hyun Joo would be willing to die for what she believes in.  That is why she is there.  I know when I went to UZ, that is the mind set I had.  There must be a huge burden right now in her heart for the short term workers who came.  From the news I heard, the men have been separated from the women and the women didnt even know Pastor Bae had been murdered.  Also, my wife told me there is a brother/sister in the group as well.  Think about how their parents must feel…

According to breaking Al Jazeera news, “The Taliban is claiming it has agreed a prisoner deal with the Afghan government which could secure the safety of at least some of the 22 South Koreans held hostage for a week.”  You can also read CNN’s report of the negotiations and Im Hyun Joo’s interview.  Also, here’s an explanation to what happened to the 8 hostages [Chosun News] that were supposed to have been released two days ago.

Please be in prayer.  I am updating this entry regularly for the simple purpose of informing people of the situation since it is getting minimal attention in Stateside and to much degree, amongst the Christian blogosphere and community.   Please pray  for the 22 hostages, for Afghanistan, for the families of the prisoners, and even the captors.  The video below [from Al Jazeera English] captures some of the pain and emotions of the parents of the hostages:


Update [July 26]  The crisis of this hostage situation in Afghanistan seems nonexistent here.  The majority of the buzz has been generated by the YouTube Presidential Debates.  That’s not a bad thing but I’m deeply frustrated at the minimal exposure of the hostage situation.  Even in blogosphere amongst pastors, leaders, emergents, and such, it’s been eerily silent.  Why?  These are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ; people living out their convictions and faith in Christ; people not just talking and blogging but also doing.  Are we calling the body of Christ to “mourn with those who mourn?”

The report of the 8 hostages being released seems now to be have been premature.  According to a Korean website, the hostages were taken to be released but never released.  A top envoy from South Korea has headed off to Afghanistan to negotiate and seek the release of the 22 Korean citizens.

Korean news sources also state that Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu was in excellent health.  I personally don’t believe his health had anything to do with his cold blood execution.  He was the pastor and the leader of the group and the Taliban captors wanted to make a statement to the world.  There are idiots out there who actually believe that these hostages had it coming for being arrogant enough to go to another country as missionaries guised as ‘relief work.’  Shut up!

Yesterday, I gave a little picture to Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu’s life.  Some additional information:  He was known for his passion, generosity, and hospitality.  He was seen at church always bowing [out of respect and hospitality] to the church’s congregants.  In addition, his passion was evidenced by his love for his wife, his 9 year old daughter [3rd grader], and the young adult group at Saemmul Church [Saemmul means New Waters or Living Waters].  Prior to becoming a pastor, he was a “salary man” which means he was a working professional.  I haven’t been able to find information what he exactly did but after receiving his “calling” into ministry, he entered seminary in 2001 for formal training to be a minister.  As I shared yesterday, he was 42 years old.  He was born in 1965 in Cheju Island.   The day that he was executed was also his birthday.  [Sigh]

He was a husband, father, pastor, and also a son.  His father [an ordained elder] is seen in the picture below praying for his son…  [News:  Hostage Timeline – Chosun News, Korean Hostage Killed – NY Times, South Korean Envoy – CNN


This situation can turn incredibly ugly.  A final deadline has been set by the Taliban.  The Korean government returned with their strongest statement thus far:

 South Korea said Thursday it would not tolerate the killing of an innocent civilian and vowed the kidnappers would be held accountable. It demanded the immediate release of the remaining hostages.

“The killing of an innocent civilian cannot be justified under any circumstance or for any reason,” Baek Jong-chun, chief presidential secretary for security affairs, said in a statement. The kidnappers “will be held accountable for taking the life of a Korean citizen.” [read full article]


Update [July 25] It’s been reported that 8 hostages were released yesterday.  This morning, one hostage was killed and “his body was left next to the main Kabul-Kandahar highway” [Al Jazeera] – his body peppered with 10 bullet shots.  It’s been difficult [and very frustrating considering Korea was a strong ally w/ the United States in the “fight against terrorism”] to find much news or empathy of the situation here in the US.  Folks that read this blog may not care or may not have access to his story so I wanted to share a little more [and will add more as I learn more] about this person.

The person killed early this morning has a story.  From my translation of a Korean article,  here is a glimpse.  His name is Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu [Bae is his last name]; he was 42 years old.  He was the leader of this relief group.  He was on staff as the pastor of the Young Adult ministries in Saemmul Presbyterian Church and actually helped to plant that church with the senior pastor nine years ago which has since grown to nearly 4000 people.  Just last April, he led another group to Bangladesh and after the trip to Afghanistan, he was planning on leading another group of young adults from the church for relief work in Africa.  Pastor Bae is survived by his wife and his daughter.  He was a follower of Jesus and a fellow co-laborer in Christ.

Thank you Pastor Bae for your witness…


The Taliban has set a final deadline and threatened to kill all the remaining hostages if their demands are not met. Please continue to lift the hostages, the situation, and the captors in prayer.

News:  Taliban Kills South Korean Hostage [Chosun Ilbo], CNN’s report; Al Jazeera’s report


Original Post [July 22] Today at Quest, we had numerous Korean guests visit the church from Vancouver, British Columbia [originally from Southern California].  They drove all the way down to worship with us.  As I chatted with them afterwards, I learned that these three couples and their children were in preparation to head off around the world as missionaries:  one couple are currently in Peru, another couple headed for a minimum of 5 years to Mongolia, and another couple headed as life missionaries to Ukraine.  I felt so honored to have them visit us at Quest.  If you’re reading this blog entry, thank you for visiting and God bless you.

During our conversation, we briefly shared our burden for the hostage situation in Afghanistan.  I know that there are German hostages involved as well and prayer is requested for all but I wanted to especially highlight the 23 Korean hostages of which 20 are members of Saemmul Presbyterian Church in Pundang, Korea [on the southern outskirts of Seoul, Korea.  Saemmul Church is a 9 year old churchplant that has grown to nearly 4,000 people. 


According to the NY Times:

SEOUL, July 22 – South Korea said today that it was in indirect talks with Taliban militants in Afghanistan to win the release of 23 Christians from Korea held hostage there. A person who described himself as a spokesman for the Taliban extended a deadline for the lives of the hostages by one day, until Monday evening, to give negotiators more time…

Mr. Ahmadi said Saturday that the insurgents would kill the South Koreans if Seoul did not immediately withdraw its 200 military engineers and medics from Afghanistan. He later said that the Afghan and South Korean governments had until tonight to agree to the release of 23 Taliban prisoners held by the government, and as that deadline approached he extended it again.

“ We are holding 23 South Koreans, and 18 of them are women,” he said. “We know that these people have come here to convert our good Muslims away from Islam. If they were not women, we would have killed them on the spot.” [read full article here]

It is true that Korea sends lots of global missionaries – 2nd next to the US and most per capita.  20 [18 women] of the 23 hostages are from Saemmul Church.  According to their church officials, they are in their 20s and 30s and were scheduled to be there for about 10 days on a short term relief trip.  Not so much at all to “convert good Muslims away from Islam” but rather to live out their personal faith in Christ. 

Rev. Bang Young-gyun of the Saemmul Community Church stressed that the abducted South Koreans were not involved in any missionary work, saying they only provided medical and other volunteer aid to people in the war-ravaged country.

Let’s be in prayer.

Other noteworthy links:

168 Replies to “[korean christian] hostages in afghanistan”

  1. Thanks for pray.
    I’m Sangchul Jung, who is quite worried about this situation. and kidnapped people’s neighbor.

    So far they are fine. Talebans are providing the food and water and sleep. but the situation is still in progress. Talebans extended the deadlines again. first time, they wanted korean troops back(EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE MEDICS). and now they want swap hostage and prisoners. typical terrorist action. i thought the movies are over-acted but that’s not true.
    if you want more info, please send a e-mail to the decrobyron@gmail.com.

    Thanks again and i wish the happy ending.

  2. It’s interesting that they state the the pastor was “very ill” as if to to allude that it’s ok to have killed him to make an example of their seriousness. This whole hostage situation is outrageous. They were there – not to directly proselytize – but to help the people of the country that were being abandoned by their structures.

  3. Pingback: djchuang.com
  4. man, thanks for the article up in the top. yesterday, just yesterday I was reading a book about underground church, the book is quite old, written by Richerd Umbrand and its called ‘tortured for Christ’, you may have already read it.

    no, we should not forget those people, when a part of the body is hurt, we need support from another part, so we need to remember them and do some thing.

    thanks for the post again.


  5. praying for my fellow brothers and sisters in charleston,sc
    …somehow God will be glorified in all of this
    the only answer to the problem of terriorism, evil, corruption is JESUS.

  6. I stumbled across this story online (you are right…haven’t heard anything about other than online…) and the Body should be made known of it. I am praying that the Spirit would cover all of the Believers involved with His peace, and glorifying God that Mr. Bae is now basking in the full glory of our God and Savior!! GLORY TO GOD!!

  7. Pray for Jesus to take charge of the situation Himself.
    Forgive all those who tresspass, pray for them as they are submerged in hatred and fire, and they don’t know what they are doing.
    Pray for our Korean brothers and sisters in captive, may God has mercy on you and sends His angels to protect you. May all of you be brought home safe and sound soon.
    Pray for the families and friends, may you find peace in heart knowing that God has His plans.
    Pray for Afganistan, for Christ is so little known there, pray that God will find His window into this country so that its people will be saved along with others.
    Denny Liu, Hong Kong

  8. Our church is praying with the body of Christ!! I hope and pray that no one will stop from going where God leads them. Death is not the end, but only the beginning. In the early church many went out speaking the truth and lost their lives for Christ – why should we expect to be any different? I pray for God’s strength to indwell in each of them and that His peace will fill them overflowing!!

  9. I think it’s embarrassing. There’s been hardly any coverage beyond the first day of what has taken place with this hostage situation. The fact that I have to check your blog first to get news on this situation pretty much sums it up. Not that your blog is bad but that I can’t find anyone on the homepage of ABC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, or the nightly news!

  10. I have been so busy these days with various things in life that I haven’t been able to keep up with current events. But last night, as I was in the middle of teaching during a Vacation Bible School event at our church, several of my kids informed me of this incident while we were trying to come up with an idea for a skit to present to the rest of the VBS students.

    I vetoed their idea and went with a more generic theme, but after reading about the situation for the past couple of hours (including visiting this blog), I wish I would’ve gone with the kids’ idea and done a skit with them about this situation in Afghanistan. I thought the subject matter would be too violent for the rest of the kids (the kids ages are from 1st grade to 6th grade).

    VBS is over now and I wish I would’ve come to this blog sooner so I could talk to my kids about it. It is real-life faith like this in action that illustrates the love and truth of Christ more aptly than any VBS lesson plan can.

  11. Muslims do not condone the act by the Taliban. However one has to understand the nature in Afghanistan that led to this kidnap. Taliban is a very strict regime and these people have experienced wars for decades. Their homes, families have been terrorized and now the fact that some people try to intrude their most sacred treasure (their Islamic faith) is not a wise act. World has done injustice to them by turning a blind eye on their long suffering. Every life is a sacred, be it Korean or Afghani. I want to emphasize that the act by the Taliban is in no way condoned by the Muslims or the Islamic tenets. And I also believe that the acts of the missionaries shown in the video below trying to instill blind Christian faith to the innocent children is not from the teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him)

    I pray for the safety of the Korean and the people in Afghanistan.

  12. Hi Pastor Eugene! I stumbled upon your page via a link on my friend Victoria’s blog (she’s the Victoria mentioned above). Check out what I wrote in response on my blog. I have to admit, my stomach turned a bit while watching the youtube video that the gentleman posted above. But once again, I shall try my best to put that aside for now and just pray for the hostages.

  13. Mus’ab,

    Thanks for visiting the blog. Thanks for your insightful comment.
    There will be much debate and good discussion about this group and Christian evangelism as a whole.

    Here’s some of my questions to you if you know the answers to them:

    Where did that video come from?
    How do you know its from this group?
    What if that group came from a Christian humanitarian group working with orphans that have been abandoned by the afghani society – for whatever reason?

    There are people that think that video came from this group and it hasn’t.

  14. Thanks so much for the info on your blog regarding the Korean hostages. I’ve been going to the Yonhap news link for info on them.

    I am praying they be strong in the faith & freed soon.

    Hebrews 13:3b “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreted as you felt their pain in your own bodies.” (NLT)

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  16. Eugene,
    Thank you so much again. I have told my church members to check your website for updates.

    My wife found this link on youtube of an “Exclusive video of Korean hostages in Afghanistan 30-07-07”

    You might want to add it to your website. Maybe you will have done this before my comment gets posted.

  17. People die by the minute but God made it so that we will always feel uneasy about it… These are the moments when faith is of such importance….

  18. “I really do not understand how this cannot be prominent NEWS here in the United States. I understand that these hostages are Koreans, Asians, ‘Orientals’ and thus, considered by some as ‘others’ here.”

    We were discussing the rise of the Korean missionary movement in our world religions class tonight. So I asked the students what they knew about the situation in Afghanistan. They knew a lot — including the latest details. (None of the students are Korean.) So even out here on Guam people are somehow finding out. We do get the CNN Asia feed but I doubt that my students are picking it up there. It’s the Internet.

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  20. Thank you for your detailed updates on the hostages in afghanistan. I hardly see any reports on them on TV! I can’t understand why it’s not getting the media attention it deserves. While digging through the internet to find updates on this matter, I stumbled on to your site! Keep on updating~~ My prayers are with the hostages and their families.

  21. I can only agree with your sentiments expressed here. I’ve been frustrated and angered by the American media’s choice to ignore the situation by not reporting at any depth about what is hahppening. And then again, I think what can we expect from a media machine that considers the lives of celebrities to be newsworthy? I’m keeping an eye on your blog and the Korean English Daily papers to stay in the know.

  22. Pastor Eugene- I’m really glad that you are working to give the Quest community awareness of this horrific situation. Coming to work today, NPR yet again didn’t mention it but DID mention a celebrity story even in self-deprecating terms like “yes, now we’re covering this too”. But nothing about this major international crisis. Is it cultural self-absorption? Or judgement of the hostages? Racism? All three? It’s definitely one more terribly broken aspect of what is unfolding.

  23. thank you for expanding the news on this situation for someone like me stuck in my own world. i appreciate your honest thoughts. i’ll lead my staff and congregation in prayer along with you.

  24. Please do not be afraid – God is with us always , and He will stand by your side even till the point of Death, where then your bodies will be resurrected with our Jesus Christ, he did come to pay the price for these Afghan troublemakers, how is it that MAN never settle in his heart, let not the burden of our souls be at stake but let God be glorified by what these true Christian believers who have not gone to Afghanistan out of their own will, but in out of obedience to Jesus Christ. The day will come where we will meet them in Heaven, the day will come where suffering will not have its toll on us Christians, He will never leave us nor forsake us, God says that if you trust in Him he will never leave you nor forsake you.

    God bless the wonderful people of Korea

  25. I praise God for you and for your willingness to speak out on this. I could not agree with you more…is Michael Vick more newsworthy than Hostages? What’s more, are the lives of dogs held more sacred than those of humans? Maybe this is a natural progression if you hold a worldview that has evolution as a tenet. Keep pressing forward!

  26. I’m not surprised that this is not front page major news. To focus on the South Koreans in Afghanistan would highlight the failures of U.S. activity in Afghanistan. Many Americans still believe that the Taliban has been defeated after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan soon after 9/11. In fact, we’ve pretty much forgotten about Afghanistan altogether. The focus is on Iraq and the U.S. has to maintain a perception of success in their so called war against terror.

    My heart goes out to the victim’s families.

  27. Thanks for blogging and keeping us informed. I have just returned back from vacation where we never watched TV, so I had no idea. After reading your blog yesterday, I told my husband about the hostage situation and turned on CNN. We didn’t hear a word about it. We are praying for the hostages and families.

  28. The church may be the only voice in America that can send the message that there are no “others”. May this story help us realize the power of a faith community! I’m sorry Eugene for your hurt…Peace to you.

  29. Rex:

    I’m trying to share this story not because of my Korean descent… There’s no need to feel sorry for me. There’s been a great act of cruelty and travesty done to these 23 individuals and their families. It’s a human issue and I know that horrible things happen every day but their intent was to do good. They are also brothers and sisters in Christ and as the body of Christ, I believe we are called to be “caretakers” of them during this situation.

  30. The Christian Science Monitor always has superior international coverage. Aljazeera and BBC news are pretty good too. I don’t expect American mainstream news to cover Korean national hostages in Afghanistan since Iraq is the primary focus here domestically.

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  33. I am sorry to say that I am just learning of this. I will be praying for the hostages, their families and captors. Thank you for writing this all out. I hope to pass this onto fellow brothers and sisters to be in prayer for all of the above. And for you too, eugene.

    “The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.” We are only righteous through Jesus Christ. And being Christians our prayers are mightly important.


  34. dear brother, I heard this news on the radio yesterday as i was on my way home and I was really saddened by it and yes I personally at that moment just made a short prayer and my heart was really down after hearing this…but I know that God will prevail in all, its not easy as an outsider but I just cant imagine how would the families feel in these times…god bless…

  35. My sister asked:
    “i’m so glad you are updating your blog about this situation as i feel like when i am at work, nobody seems to know or care. it is so sad. what can we do besides pray? is there anything else?”

    All kinds of thoughts were going through my head the past couple of days about this very question…

    Any thoughts?

  36. Thank you for your diligent and thorough coverage. I have referred many people to your site to get the latest on the situation. I’ve talked with some people, and it’s absolutely insane that there are still some people in the US who are in the dark about this tragedy. I know more about this than most people in America, and I’m in the middle of East Asia!

    Again, thank you for your work and this service for the Kingdom. I agree with you on every point. I am praying and fasting with you, brother.

  37. We are praying in Canada every day for the hostages, for a miraculous breakthrough – thank you for your coverage and your honest lament of the silence of believers regarding this tragedy. I am still praying that God would use this situation to shake us from our lethargic arm chair talking head churchianity. God, come, break in, reveal your glory, bring comfort and healing. Amen

  38. Thanks for bringing attention to this very sad situation. I’m currently on vacation and just learned about this while checking e-mail. I’ll be praying.

  39. let’s keep on praying for them, and for ourselves, too, as evil will always abound where the Light is… the Bible says: Pray without ceasing… we should follow.

  40. Pingback: Michelle Malkin » South Korean Christian hostage crisis: Rescue attempt…”The operation has started”
  41. i will keep them in my prayers! anyone else notice that most of the major news outlets fail to mention these brave people are missionaries spreading God’s word. i pray that the outcome for those remaining alive is good.

  42. i will keep them in my prayers! anyone else notice that most of the major news outlets fail to mention these brave people are missionaries spreading God’s word. i pray that the outcome for those remaining alive is good.

  43. Eugene,

    Thanks for keeping this going. I do check Michelle Malkin and she keeps up on this. My prayers are with the hostages. If people around the world would only realize that this is going to continue until we put a stop to it.

  44. Yes, we care – but W.T.F. can we do that we are not already doing? We are already in Afghanistan to exterminate every single Taliban that exposes himself to a rifle sight. We are paying in blood every day. What more can we do from here? Threaten the Taliban with boycotts? Complain to their bosses? We cannot do a damned thing except whine, and fuel the fire that is the weapon of choice for the Taliban – indeed the only one they have – publicity. To that end – our silence is like a ‘GO FUCK YOURSELVES’ to the Taliban. Yeah, we know you took a bunch of innocents and are going to kill them – so what is the fucking news here? It is literally another dog bites man story – and that is exactly the way it should be. These rat bastards should know that we offer them no quarter, no compromises, no mercy – and we will be there, killing them one by one, until they are done trying to kill innocents.

    Anyone going to Afghanistan may as well consider themselves dead the moment their feet touch soil there – and then this whole business of whining would stop.

    Afghanistan – it’s no joke.

  45. Hi Pastor Eugene – Almost eight years ago, you officiated my sister’s wedding in Seattle… and while living in Seattle, she encouraged me a few times to check out Quest. I never made it over. Now living across the country on the East Coast, I happened to stumble upon your blog and have been reading it regularly. I appreciate your candor, insight, humor, passion… it’s quite frankly, refreshing. Maybe I didn’t realize that pastors could be so human. ; ) With this hostage situation, your blog has also become news central for me. Thanks for keeping on top of this issue. Thanks for being outspoken on the lack of coverage. Thanks for your fervor. I am thoroughly disappointed at how this issue isn’t top of mind for everyone when I myself can’t stop thinking about it.

  46. Beloved Brother Cho,

    You wrote:
    “So, let me recap the story:  23 Koreans prepare, plan, and pray for a trip to Afghanistan.  It is a war torn country. It is dangerous but they go because no one else goes to Afghanistan.   The trip is led by Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu who leaves behind his wife and 9 year old daughter to lead this group for a 10 day relief trip.  The majority of the team are young Christians – 2os and 30s – who make sacrifices of finances, time and health to be a source of aid, blessing, and hope.  They are hosted by Im Hyun Joo, a 32 year old woman who had worked in Korea as a nurse but felt called to serve the people of Afghanistan through her skills and faith – particularly the children.  The brutal reality is they are kidnapped and taken as hostages.  Two are killed.  Two are reportedly deathly ill.  There are constant threats to kill all the hostages.

    The world knows about it.  United States knows about it.  The media knows about it.  Christians know about it.  Do we care?

    When we should be celebrating these young people for the choices [even as they seem extremely unwise now] they make to demonstrate mercy and compassion, our voices are silent.  There is hardly a whimper.  It’s on the news for a nigth – only to be drowned by the images of a distorted culture. ”

    My wife and I respect your blogging very much, but I respectfully disagree very strongly that the actions of these beloved brothers and sisters appear now “extremely unwise”.

    The Lamb died others who despise Him because of Hisgreat love. If we follow Him, we will do as He did.

    If we are not willing to follow Him there, that is where we stop following Him.

    I Agree with you strongly in this: Love wins!

    “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?; 11Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.”

    By their blood martyrs pour life into the land. Not their own life, for anyone who has been baptized into Christ has been baptized into his death – we have died already, and our lives are hid with Christ in God.

    It is the life of Christ, the expression of of the Father which remains to be given.
    Let each of the hostages finish the race set before them, and not one before their time.
    Let all of them (and we as well) so run the race set before them that their testimony should bring about the reconciliation of their persecutors, faithful stewards of the life that has been given them.

    Let them be encouraged whether they hear the voice of the bridegroom at the door saying, “Come away with me, my beloved” or whether it pleases Him that reamin a while longer.

    Let the families of the slain be comforted and honored for the sake of them whose lives are given as a fragrant love offering.

    All praise to the Lamb, who is worthy of great praise.

    Holy is He!

    And precious in His sight the death of His saints.

    Holy is the Lamb!

    Love Wins.

  47. Craig,
    Hey, thanks for the thoughts.

    I agree with you on the most part. To the outsiders, it seems to have been an unwise trip. I pray that this situation – no matter how it turns out – will not deter the convictions that christians may have to live out their faith locally or globally – even if it is in situations that might be dangerous.

    In my mind, I was thinking about this group of people traveling on a road that has always been very dangerous in a country of WAR in a large white tourist bus with no one accompanying them.

  48. Thanks for keeping the rest of us informed and for keeping this issue up front and center, Eugene. I am praying with you as are others in my church and in my circle of friends, for the hostages and for peace.

  49. PE: Yes, my heart breaks for these people and I’ve spent much of my newly found unemployed time praying for the. However, as to the news coverage I completely agree with Helo Pilot, in fact I was going to say something similar before I read his comment. These terrorists feed on news coverage and have become very intentional about getting the attention of the American media for the reasons of power in coverage you mentioned today. Denying them that power is like laughing in their faces. Please don’t take this the wrong way, because I know you know where my heart is at and how tender it is. I really do care about the situation over there and hope for a God-filled ending, but I just want to know what anyone expects news coverage to accomplish.

  50. Abba Father ~~ We bow down before You and give thanks that You, in Your triune being, are faithful and compassionate. We are blessed and comforted by your omniscience, your omnipotence, your salvation. We do not understand the choices that You make as You carve out a path of righteousness in the midst of our human garden and water it in the blood of martyrs and the sweat of the oppressed people of our planet and the tears of those who love You.

    We are deeply flawed in vision and understanding, but we see Your Son and we read Your Word and we believe that you desire to hear from Your people on behalf of these helpless victims in Afghanistan. We thank You for the trials that we have faced in our own lifetimes, though few of us have known the kind of fear and danger that these young people are facing. We thank You because You have been there when we needed You most and we know that You will be with these, Your children, as well.

    We are asking you to strengthen them in body, soul and spirit. Bring Your Word into their minds for comfort and guidance. Pour out Your grace so that they will be able to speak peace to one another. Put Your general commandment for mercy upon the hearts of their captors and grant that their simple human needs may be respected. Heal those who are ill, in Your regenerative power. Provide clean water and proper waste treatment in their environment, Lord. Nourish them with simple, healthful food. Cause Your Love to flourish in their hearts and Your truth to grow strong in this trial.

    For those who desire to stage a test of strength between human ideas of “god” that are different, show Yourself True, Lord. Your messenger tells us that God is on God’s side and doesn’t take up a human cause on command, yet when Elijah acted out his drama to debunk the false gods in his culture, You supported His efforts and You came down with power to dethrone the posers. Come down with power now, Lord, and cause Your free people to remember these and ALL those who are held in captivity because of bad ideology. Bind us together in the will of Your Spirit and bring us to the place of intelligent prayer. Pass our prayers through the mind of Christ and accept our passionate pleas according to His blessed will for humankind and this generation.

    Let these prayers be a benefit to those captors who are also captive to an ideology that cannot heal. Let any legitimate cause they have be heard and considered thoroughly. Help us all to amend our ways and expedite our understanding that violence is NO solution.

    For those who defend the land and people of Afghanistan, who place themselves in harm’s way because the cause is both good and desperate, be their defender. Protect them from injustice and untimely loss. Be faithful to their families and loved ones. Let their tactics and strategies be effective in every possible case without bloodshed. Let none of Your beloved children suffer blood-guiltiness. If shots must be fired, let Your judgment rule in all the outcomes.

    Counsel with the perpetrators and the governments that make the decisions in these matters and give grace for obedience to your counsel. The good that we desire to accomplish escapes us, so make us servants of Your Good Will and peace on earth…

    In the unfailing Love of Christ, we ask these things, Amen…

  51. Blake: You think that if the 23 were American citizens or college students on a humanitarian trip, this still wouldn’t get any coverage because the media doesn’t want to play into giving attention to the Taliban?

  52. PE: I don’t think that at all, and that’s not at all what I was getting at. I’m just curious what anybody expects to happen if the American media WERE to pick up this story. Would the situation improve? Would it impact the situation at all?

    If the point is that there simply isn’t coverage when there should be and that the world isn’t aware when it should be, then sure, I agree with you that there is something missing. Even if the only benefit is greater awareness of the situation by the church as a whole so that we can pray for our brothers and sisters.

  53. thanks for the updates and your constant engagement of this situation…i’ve especially appreciated obvioulsy because there hasn’t been any real coverage in the papers i normally read each morning…so sad and frustrating…disheartening…

    keep it up.

  54. My frustration is with the lack of media attention to this evil. Natalie Holloway was a pretty blond girl and received tons of attention for her disappearance. This group contained 23 times the number of human beings in distress, but they are probably lucky if they get 1/23 the press coverage. I don’t think that’s right.

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  56. “You think that if the 23 were American citizens or college students on a humanitarian trip, this still wouldn’t get any coverage because the media doesn’t want to play into giving attention to the Taliban?”

    Christians suffering persecution at the hands of Muslims is almost never news. For some reason the press is very cautious when it comes to displaying the way Christian are treated in the East and Africa by those who terrorize them simply for their beliefs.

    BTW, and this might be oddly coincidental, did you know that there is a new Rambo coming out and the plot is that Christian missionaries are kidnapped and Rambo is hired to get them out. I kid you not.

    “When the missionaries finally arrive at the Karen village, they are ambushed by the sadistic Major Pa Tee Tint (Maung Maung Khim), and a host of Burmese army men. A portion of the villagers and missionaries are tortured and viciously murdered, while Tint and his men hold the remainder captive. News soon reaches the minister in charge of the mission, and, with the help of Ed Baumgartner, he employs Rambo to lead a rescue effort the only way he knows how.”


  57. Thanks for spending the time to keep these posts up to date Eugene. I don’t understand what the situation is with the wider church in the US, but I can see that it’s causing you frustration. Australia is not much different, but there is also an absence of a mainstream Christian media in Australia.

    However, I belong to a mid sized Church in Perth (the most isolated capital city in the world), and I know that people are praying. Many Christians in Perth have a heart for mission and this situation is breaking our heart. We can only pray and hope in God.

    Whatever the outcome, whether these precious saints live or die, they are alive in Christ! Death will not have the final say. God will be praised.

  58. Hey man,

    I’m glad you’ve been persistent with this story. Truthfully I think God has used this blog to “bring into light” the issue that is taking place. Hopefully that brings great awareness and more prayer for these brothers and sisters who are in such a struggle.

    Keep it up

  59. I read news on the Korean hostages in Afghanistan. I have great regard for the South Korean Christians who are spontaneous in evangelism.

    Its really a sad situation, I hope and pray that God would intervene and deliver the team.


  60. Its really a sad to know that one hostage was killed, its terrible. May God stregthen the bereaved family members.
    I salute the courage of the South Korean Christians who have undertaken such a daunting task.

  61. totaltransformation: this might sound kinda weird but i knew about the rambo story over a year ago. a friend of mine, who is a member of the Karen people, was contacted by the producers of the film for his consulting services and info. he was so distraught over the concept that no money was worth it…

  62. This situation is horrible in every aspect there is. I really feel nothing but grief and worry over these poor Korean volunteers. My girlfriend is from Pusan and is living in America now, and this situation is taking a toll on her and her brother, another US Army soldier like myself.

    I hate to sound callous, but if we could actually trust the Taliban (an organization by the way that shouldn’t and most likely will never be trusted by the US and its allies), then the US would consider negotiation. However, we’ve clearly stated that we don’t negotiate with people like the Taliban, who murder recklessly and make lives miserable all for the sake of their perverted brand of Islam. My sympathies go out to the families but the Korean press, politicians, and civilians have to understand that we cannot make exceptions, even if the hostages were Americans. When we have made concessions, terrorists and guerillas just stepped up kidnappings and sometimes went back on their word. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. When there were Italian hostages that were released for Taliban detainees, those detainees went on to spearhead more deadly attacks against Coalition forces, Afghan forces, and civilians. I hope the picture is getting a little clearer. This new offer of female supporters of the Taliban in exchange for female Koreans is a slightly better offer, that is if it’s true that the Taliban spokesman is correct saying there are no actual female fighters. If that’s the case then we should see who could cause the least harm and possibly release them for some of the female Koreans. I only wish all of them could be released.

    This crisis is so damning to all sides that people should understand that we’re dealing with so many factions (ROK, US, Afghanistan, Taliban) with different policies and different tactics that it makes me angry when I see anti-US protests in Seoul and the Taliban/politicians shifting responsibility to Bush and Karzai. Honestly, yes we overthrew the Taliban and are continuing to fight them into non-existence, but take in mind that we can’t keep our eyes on everyone, especially people who don’t let local police/military officials know of their travel plans. The US cannot be everyone’s keeper. These Christian volunteers did go despite government warnings and though their cause was admirable and just in my eyes, sometimes good intentions are without some common sense. No offense to the Christian volunteers, but the Taliban are using them as tools to make the US look bad and strain ROK-US relations even though the US is just doing what it has always been doing. The Taliban may have supporters that claim the US is imperialist and thirsty for the blood of innocent Muslims and oil, but people need to know that they are more bloodthirsty, vicious, barbaric, fanatical, and inconsiderate for human life than most people a hundred-fold. The US and its allies, including the ROK, do not torch schools, assassinate teachers, set up ambushes for students, kidnap civilians, NGO workers, and foreigners, plant bombs on roads, all for the sake of God. Tell me what kind of people are those?

    I love my country, the United States, and I deeply respect the Republic of Korea. I am not the most devout Catholic on the planet, but I still hope that God steps in somehow, be it through a sudden good fortune in Korean/Taliban negotiations, successful rescue operations conducted by Afghan/Korean/US special forces, or even Bush and Karzai finding another way to getting the Koreans back home. The Taliban will be tough in what they want, but I’m optimistic that we will prevail. This situation has already destroyed a lot of their credibility among Muslims and others abroad. If we show that we won’t bend backwards to people who murder little kids just for going to newly developed schools, then it’s bad publicity for them. These hostages were here to help for what they believed God wanted them to do and now they’ve been caught in a social/political/military/religious maelstrom, their lives threatened by some extremist barbaric assholes who will stop at nothing to satiate their lust for carnage. I really do pray that something good comes of this and no other Koreans die.

    What a world…

  63. I am a long term missionary and I am glad that I found your blog and that you are posting daily updates. I have linked your blog to mine. You are correct, we as Christians need to be praying for these people and “entering in” their situation. I think so many Americans now go on short term missions trips that this story hits a little too close to comfort and so maybe this could be why there is lack of concern or coverage……..Just a thought……

  64. Thank you so much for taking the time to post news about the hostages each day. I have put your website in my favorites so that I can pray for the hostages each time I check your blog. I have also posted a blog about the hostages, reminding Christians that I know to pray for our Korean brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. I have linked your blog from mine so that others can find the most up-to-date information. I am sick and tired of the news covering Barry Bonds when other stories like this one get 20 seconds here and there.

  65. Please don’t stop the updates. This is the only efficient way that many of us have to stay informed, since major media still doesn’t cover this story regularly. Thx, God bless. Cat

  66. Pastor, you are definitely not wasting your time posting these updates. I come here every day to get the latest so I can better focus my prayers and attentions on this situation…and I’m as Calvinist/Reformed as they come. Be encouraged and keep hoping in God.

  67. Tuhan Allah Bapa yang di surga, apapun yang terjadi bagi hamba-hambamu biarlah hanya namaMu yang kami muliakan dan kami doakan janganlah sampai mereka mencela namaMu karena keadaan ini. Biarlah hanya namaMu yang tetap mereka puji dan muliakan dan ampunilah dosa-dosa mereka karena mereka anak-anakMu juga. amin

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  69. If we had all spoken up when the United States and its allies had recruited and trained Muslim extremists to fight its proxy war against the Russians, we wuold not have this problem today.

    When the Russians were defeated this contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. THe United States became the number one super power in the world. In the meanwhile, Afghanistan was left in ruins and millons were killed.

    How many more years must the Afghans suffer under violent conditions?

    I hope the Koreans are released.

    See this article by an Afghan female member of the Afghan Parliament, Malalai Joya, about how “The US has Returned Fundamentalism to Afghanistan.”

  70. Pingback: Michelle Malkin » South Korean Christian hostage crisis: Day 24
  71. Our Prayers are with these outstanding servants.

    It is difficult to imagine a religious ideology that murders people of another religion simply because these people are willing to help the people, something their own religion refuses to do, for their own.

    The liberals in the US are certainly disgusting. They travail over terrorists yet ignore the plight of these young people.

    Dear RandallJones: can’t you find it in yourself to blame the murderers rather than the USA? These young people are not from the USA… get a clue. Is it just OK to kill them just because they are Christians?

  72. So, you mean to tell us that God had two of his servants, a kind pastor and a good-intentioned aid worker, brutally shot by Islamic extremists (who by the way do worse things than what Americans could possibly do either for s$%#s and giggles or for their own perverse ideology), just to guilt-trip and/or embarass the US? Wow dude, pull your head out of your ass. You see, it’s armchair US-bashing like this that has no place in the realm of logic or reason. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think God follows the “you wanna make an omelet, you gotta break a few eggs” train of through, especially when the “eggs” are a.) Christian aid workers, b.) captives by an awful group like the Taliban which by the way, committed public executions, didn’t allow cell phones, or bar women from school, and c.) pardon my callousness, not the responsibility of solely the US. Why must so many people blame solely the US? Yes we make mistakes and yes we could be doing a better job, but unless you’ve been over there like some of my friends have, you’ll understand that it’s easier said than done. The US can’t blanket the whole area with security unless the military reaches WWII levels, which we don’t want.

    Thank the Lord at least two of them have been released and that the Taliban are learning that they’re not as intimidating to the world governments as they want to be. I pray that because the US/Afghan/ROK governments are getting tougher and not caving in, that the Taliban will settle for something else other than freed prisoners who will only turn around and kidnap/shoot/kill more innocent people, possibly more Koreans and Christian aid workers. So cut the “let’s blame the US for everything” bandwagon crap, because the US honestly feels the pain. It might not be seen through the media, but people talk about it and remember situations like with Jill Carroll. There are no one-sided stories and there are no one-sided blames. It’s a tragedy but it’s not just one nation’s fault.

  73. I was going to let you know about one of the girls who gave up her position to be freed because it is such an amazing story, but it looks like you’re on top of it. Amazing act. Thanks for the continued attention… I see more people around the world are noticing and many are blogging about it…

  74. People might say they are stupid, some might even say they deserve it. But I just want to share with you all that the death of Pastor Bae and Shim Sung Min has helped me, a born again Christian yet who has backslided due to the materialistic world to reconsider my faith and life again. I have not been praying for the past 2 years, yet because of them and the other hostages’great love for the Afghan people, I am now reconnecting myself back to God again. I am even thinking of doing missionary work like them to help the unfortunate in the world. Their love had travelled from Korea to Afghanistan and to Malaysia to me. Their deaths are not in vain. I believe there are many out there like me too, touched by their love and self-sacrifice. To the families: Keep on praying, trust in God. “God will make a way when there seems to be no way.” Even if things turn out to be the worst, I believe God has a reason for it, which we will understand in the future.

  75. Hi Pastor Eugene,

    I’m updating my Christian friends every day on the latest Korean hostages news; if you want, I can email it to your blog every day, so you can have some free time for other ministries. Please email me and let me know.

    In Christ,

  76. Pingback: Michelle Malkin » Deadlock on Day 35: The South Korean Christian hostage crisis
  77. my heart has been hurting for a month…. i attend seminary with the sister of the first slain… many s. korean christians have come to america for seminary training – so our community weeps over this tragedy.
    thank you for keeping readers updated regularly.
    my blessings

  78. Well it looks like things are going up for this situation thank the Lord. All we can do is hope the Taliban stay true to their word and not try anything fishy. News reports say that the presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-seon said the Taliban demanded troop withdrawal and a ban on missionary activity for Korean Christians.

    Honestly, I’m glad the demand for Taliban prisoners was scrapped because now those detainees will stay in prison and God willing the hostages will still be let go. About the ban on Korean missionary work there, all I can say is oh well…tough break, go to another country. If they don’t want your help then don’t give it. If they don’t want you there even if you’re not preaching down their throats (I don’t think these 23 people were preaching down anyone’s throat), then leave them to their fate. That’s the way the world is. I feel upset about the Afghans who won’t get that help from people but maybe it’d be better for non-religious organizations to come to their aid instead of church volunteers. Taking religion out of aid and good intentions can sometimes be the determining factor to whether you’ll be accepted or not.

    When this dilemma is over, I hope this sends a message to people that sometimes there are places that you just don’t go to, especially if you come as a church/synagogue/mosque/temple group. Jesus wanted us to help people, but there’s a fine line between wisdom in deeds and recklessness in deeds. Let this be a lesson to those who want to help in the s***holes of the world, if you really want to go somewhere dangerous, the MOST IMPORTANT thing to have is security. No sense in being a martyr from an unnecessary death.

  79. In addition to the previous comment, I’d also like to show gratitude to Muslim imams, diplomats, and followers in South Korea, the US, and worldwide, in their assistance to the families of the hostages, the ROK/Afghan government, and their condemnation of the Taliban in committing such a heinous and un-Islamic act like the kidnapping and threatening of women and aid volunteers.

  80. Eugene, I just want to let you know that my church has organized a fast and pray chain since the end of last month. Everyday and every meal, one or more brothers and sisters will fast and pray for the hostages. We’ll continue until all the hostages are released, or murdered (which I hope will not happen.) I’m sure that many churches are praying for the hostages too and God will answer the cry of the saints one way or another. I’m so thankful to hear that an end may be near.

    Pastor Wilson Wong
    Chinese for Christ Berkeley Church

  81. the lives of these men and women are truly inspiring. will keep praying for God’s strength and Grace to be with them. His light will shine in dark places!!!!
    Thans for keeping us updated wiht this blog.
    Sarah T
    South Africa

  82. I would like all those ,who blame the Americans and have such a hatred of them to really look deep down in their hearts and recognize their dliema in this situation. Their hands are tied. Love God , Love All and Pray that the taliban release the Hostages. We all need to express love , even for those who commit these horrid acts. Rejoice for the two who died for they are with the Lord in Heaven.

  83. Pingback: Michelle Malkin » South Korean Christian hostage crisis: 4 more freed
  84. Pingback: Tel-Chai Nation
  85. How stupid can those so-call Korean Aid Worker…. they think they can change the minds of the hardened and illiterate Taliban to accept Christ. These are misguided missionaries….and it’s so sad that they try to disguise themselves as aid workers.

    They deserve to die…. Why…. because they made a nation into distress…into a crisis…. and forced the Korean Gov’t to be “in bed” with the Taliban so that they can be freed. I totally believe that the Korean Gov’t paid $20M ranson…. and what do the Taliban do? Breed more terrorist… because of these stupid idiots…. Therefore, I do not have ANY SYMPATHY on these IDIOTS and their MISGUIDED CHURCH…..

  86. Didnt want Mr Smartybutt to have the last word here…

    Heres an excerpt from a John Piper message

    I want to motivate you and empower you to embrace suffering, embrace hardship, embrace risk and danger for the relief of human suffering, especially eternal suffering, for the glory of Christ. May Wheaton not be one of those ludicrous places where it is thought to be loving to relieve physical suffering for people who are on the road to hell without mention of the gospel. You don’t have to choose between those. Love will embrace the hard-to-reach place and go at life’s peril (Mark 8:34-35).

  87. It’s simple really. Don’t go where you are not wanted, though your intentions may be good
    your logic isn’t. Putting untrained,unskilled people in the face of great personal danger is like ringing the ‘dinner bell’.For those unfamiliar with this expression, it just means “here we are an easy target; come and get us!” Afghanistan has suffered for a long time and will probably suffer a lot longer. Let the professionals do their job, and they are everyday, doing the best that they can with what they have. There will come a time when your people may be able to return and continue their work, but until then, stay away. Life is hard enough and the men and women who serve the US Forces and their Allies don’t need to baby sit those who are inept and incapable of looking after themselves. In the end ” It is what it is” nothing more nothing less. God and Buddha bless them all.

  88. I have nothing but admiration for the South Korean missionaries. It is never wrong to love. I pray that they are all doing well and adjusting after their ordeal. I wish that I can communicate with them directly or at least know that they continue to do well. When someone is wronged then all should stand with them. When victims are further victimized we all lose.

  89. Can’t believe these stupid fanatics from Korea. Guys, word of advice, if your a christians keep it in your house or in your country.Do try to display in our countries, we have seen enough of these things before, you guys have just converted shamelessly.
    These fools do not even understand their own religion uddhism and they come here to show what their foolish faith is.
    Luckly, few still survived next it may be fatal.

  90. Jesus never even saw a Korean in his life time. You think he will save you, he won’t even recognize you people on day of judgment. Stop your pretending to be a white man. You guys have sold your soul to white agenda. Remember, white people also converted due to convenience; there is nothing divine in Christianity. It’s just a rule book nothing spiritual.

    The audacity of these Koreans to somehow think that they can go to any country and successfully put up a show, is totally insane. Koreans have no knowledge of our countries, we have endured the Christian onslaught for centuries and today these new fools come to do the same dirty job. The result is just death.

  91. Been watching things unfold in N Korea and growing more concerned for S Korea. Both countries are in my prayers. Dear Korean brothers and sisters you are so precious to Him!

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