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Freed Koreans Plead for Hostages on Al Jazeera

ICC Note: Freed Christians “can hardly sleep at night” because they are still thinking about the rest of their team still in captivity.

by Michelle Vu

8/24/07 Afghanistan (Christian Today) – Two former hostages pleaded for the release of the remaining 19 Koreans still held by the Taliban during an interview with the Arab news network Al Jazeera.

Kim Kyung-ja (L) and Kim Ji-na who were among the 21 Koreans kidnapped by Taliban in Afghanistan, but were freed after being held for about a month by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Kim Kyung-ja, 37, and Kim Ji-na, 32, spoke of their heavy hearts and the burden they carry knowing that although they are free their friends and colleagues are still in captivity.

“You probably think we are happy now, with our families. In fact, we can hardly sleep at night,” Kim Ji-na told Al Jazeera during an interview broadcast on Thursday.

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

The two female hostages were released by their captors on August 13 after the first round of face-to-face talks between Taliban negotiators and a South Korean delegation. The rebels said they released the two hostages as a “gesture of goodwill” after negotiations were going well, although they still demanded the release of their jailed fighters for the remaining 19 hostages.

“Rather than being happy, my heart was breaking,” Kim Kyung-ja said as she held back tears.

“I was thinking of the remaining 19 hostages.”

A government official who accompanied the two during their return to Seoul said the hostages did not know they were being released until the handover, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“As they moved frequently during the captivity, they were thinking that the Taliban were taking them to another place, not noticing they would be released,” the official said.

Prior to their release, the two women were not even aware of the deaths of the church group’s leader, the Rev Bae Hyung-kyu, and their colleague, Shim Sung-min, until they were told the day before returning to South Korea .