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Arrest of South Koreans weigh on relations with Libya

ICC Note:

Two South Koreans were arrested for their missionary work in the North African country.

07/26/2010 Libya (Korean Herald) – Officials at the Libyan embassy here left abruptly last month as their country’s relations with South Korea soured after the arrest of two South Koreans in the North African country.

Their departure came just days after the Libyan authorities arrested a South Korean engaging in missionary activities.

The South Korean — known only by his surname Koo — was reportedly a student residing in Libya for eight years.

Shortly after his arrest, another South Korean — a farm owner — was arrested for aiding Koo in his missionary work.

Libya has refused to allow South Korean diplomats to meet with the pair, saying they were still undergoing interrogation.

As for the embassy staffers’ sudden departure, the Foreign Ministry here said it was told that they were taking leave.

“The Libyan embassy told us that they needed some time to revamp the consular system,” said Kim Young-sun, the ministry spokesman. “We are still looking into the issue.”

The absence of the embassy staff is creating problems for the South Korean companies who have operations in Libya or are seeking new projects, those close to the matter said.

Libya currently stands as South Korea’s fourth-largest construction market. Seoul has undergone many large-scale projects there, such as the construction of water canals.

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