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Reactions to kidnapping of Koreans in Afghanistan

South Korean Christian missionaries were abducted in Ghazni, south-west of Kabul, on the 19th of this month. The abductors who kidnapped 23 missionaries are Taleban fighters. The hostages were abducted from a bus travelling from Kandahar to Kabul. What the Taleban fighters demand to the Korean government is first to withdraw the South Korean forces in Afghanistan and to swap the 23 men and women for jailed fighters. The Korean troops had been scheduled to withdraw by the end of the year. While a team of South Korean hostage negotiators arrived in Kabul and the South Korean government is still in negotiations in Afghanistan, a question that has come up is why the missionaries had to go to such a dangerous place even though the government strongly persuaded them to avoid that place several times and whether their decision has been right or not.

A blogger, Lee Dae-geun, insists that there should be a new law to prohibit Christian missions.

기독교가 국,내외로 시도하는 선교활동이 도를 넘는거 같다. 선교활동의 책임을 개인의 범주에 한정한다면 그 누구도 말리지 못하겠지만. 이번 사태처럼 국가적으로 피해를 주게 되면 법으로 제한을 가해야한다. 우리가 사는 민주국가는 혼자서 살아가는 사회가 아니니까…

Christians’ missionary activities inside and outside have been too much. If we talk about individuals’ missionary activities, nobody would have the right to stop what they do. But if these activities bring out harms on the nation, it should be limited by law. The democratic nation we belong to is not the society we live in alone…

Not a few bloggers, like Yundream, focus on the irresponsibility of the church that sent 23 young people.

이번 선교활동(봉사활동이라고 해야하나?)을 하다가 발생한 피랍사건에 대해서 “일단 집으로 무사 귀환이나 시키고 나서 비판하자”라는 주장이 있는 것을 보았습니다.

이 주장에 대한 문제점을 얘기해 보려고 합니다. 대상은 지금 억류되어있는 젊은이들이 아닌, 비판의 대상이 되는 해당 교회와 책임자로 한정하겠습니다.

예를들어서 설명하겠습니다. 동물보호단체에서 동물생태연구를 주제로 젊은사람 20명정도를 모집했습니다. 그래서 아프리카 오지의 무슨 정글로 보냈는데, 인솔자도 없고, 정글에 대해서 아는 사람도 없는 상태에서 보냈다가 “조난”을 당했다고 가정해 봅시다.

조난당한 사람을 구하는 것과는 별개로 그러한 무책임한 행위를 한 동물보호단체의 담당책임자는 곧바로 “소환”해서 조사를 하는게 당연한 겁니다. 상식적인거 아닙니까 ?

그 교회에서 설마 나쁜동기로 그 젊은이들을 보냈겠냐. 이해하자 ? 언제부터 대한민국 법률이 해당 주체의 “주관적일 수도 있는 동기”에 따라 집행이 되었습니까 ? 동기가 좋으면 과정이 필요가 없는것이었군요 !?

“너무 그들을 나무라지 마라 ?” 웃깁니다. 정치권과 법, 언론에서 그들에 대해서 아무런 말이 없는 지금 상황이 비상식적인 겁니다. 도대체 20명이 넘는 젊은이를 아무런 안전장치 없이 전쟁터에 보냈는데, 그래서 사고가 발생했는데, 그러한 무책임한 일을 벌인 그들에 대해서 조취가 취해지고 있지 않는 지금 상황이 상식적인 상황이라고 생각됩니까 ?

오히려 기독교가 가진 정치적인 힘때문에, 블로거만 열나게 떠들고 막상 전면에 나서야할 언론, 정치 쪽은 숨죽이고 있는거 아닙니까 ?

About this abduction that happened during the missionary activity (or volunteer activity?), I saw some people say “let’s criticize them after they came back home safely.”

I would like to talk about this perspective. I would like to talk about the church and the people who were in charge, rather than the young captives.

I will make an example. An animal protection organization collected 20 young people in the topic of researching the mode of animals’ lives. The organization sent them to a jungle in Africa. There was no guide and no one knew about what jungles are about.

Let’s imagine that the group came across a disaster. Besides escaping the group, we should summon the organization which took such an irresponsible action. Isn’t it natural?

That cannot be that the church sent those young people with the bad motive. So, we should understand? Since when has Korean law been enacted according to subjectively judged motives? If the motive is good, is the process not so important?

“Don’t criticize them so much?” that’s funny. Any one from politics, law, and mass media, doesn’t talk about this issue at all. It doesn’t make sense. Do you think it makes sense even though more than 20 young people were sent to the war area without any safety and they’re in danger? But nobody talks about the irresponsible action.

Due to the political power of Christianity, mass media and politics are quiet. Only bloggers are making strong arguments.

Suya 55 criticizes that opinion.

어떤사람은 생각없이 비난만한고..
어떤사람은 그 비난을 또 비난하고..
어떤사람은 기독교의 선교정신이 순교니까 가서 죽으라 말하고..
뭐 죄다 나쁜말 뿐이다.
난 우리나라에 이렇게 기독교에 대한 반감이 많은줄 처음 알았다.
기독교인들이 범죄를 일삼는 여러 깡패들보다도 더 나쁜것같이 느껴진다.

2년전 나는 국토대장정을 갔다왔다. 많은 사람들이 그거 왜하냐고 묻는다.
쓸데없는 고생 왜하나고 묻는다.
몸상하고 힘들고 시간 빼앗기는 일 왜하냐고 묻는다.

난 그들에게 묻는다. 왜사냐?
우리가 살아가는데는 의미가 있는것이다. 개개인이 하는 모든일들에는 그 이유가 있기 마련이고 그런 이유들을 서로가 존중해야 하지 않을까 싶다.

그들이 아프가니스탄으로 떠난이유는..?? 그들도 고생하면서 뭔가를 행하면서 그것에 대한 보람과 뿌듯함 그리고 나름데로의 성취감등을 느끼기 위해 개인돈들을 쓰면서 그곳으로 떠났을 것이다.

그들의 생각을 존중해야 하지 않을까? 물론 그 생각으로 인해 많은 사람들이 고생하게 되어버렸지만.
개개인의 성취감을 위해 다른사람에게 피해를 주게 되었지만. 이렇게 피해를 줄 목적으로 떠난것이 아니지 않는가? 그들은 선한 목적으로 좋은 일을 행하기 위해 갔을 뿐인데… 단지 운이 좋지 못했고, 장소가 좋지 못했을 따름인데. 너무 심하게 비난하는게 아닌가 싶다.

기독교가 평소에 여러분에게 얼머나 큰 피해를 주었는가? 단지 악성 기독교(사이비단체)들로 인해 우리의 인식이 조금 나빠짐으로 인해 국가에서 인정하는 기독교를 그렇게 비난해도 되는가?
주변을 한번 돌아봐라. 기독교 친구가 한둘은 있을것이다. 그들이 모두다 이상한놈들이고 남들에게 피해를 끼치는 사람들인가?

생각없이 기독교나 선교를 떠난이들에 대해 비난하고 있다면 당신은 참으로 이기적이다. 아니 나쁘다. 평소에 잘하는것들은 조금도 눈에 들어오지 않고 항상 조그만 실수를 엄청 잘 꼬집에 내어서 그것을 10배 100배 나쁘게 말해버린다. 군대처럼.

Some people criticize without any thoughts.
Some people criticize that criticism.
Some people even say the captives should die because the final goal of the Christian mission is martyrdom.
Criticize… criticize…
The first time I got to know there is so much antipathy toward Christians here.
It seems that they are worse than gangsters.

Two years ago, I marched across the Korean peninsula. At that time, people asked me why I unnecessarily did such a tiring job. They asked me why I did such a physically tiring job and spent so much time for that.

I would like to ask them why they live.
There are meanings and reasons to live. Each individual has a reason when they do something and we should respect it. The reason why they went to Afghanistan? They must have left for it in order to accomplish some valuable things for their lives or some confidence through their efforts. Don’t we have to respect their thoughts? I know what they did causes trouble now. But they didn’t go to that palce with the purpose to torture other people. They went there in order to accomplish good deeds. They were just unlucky. I think we criticize them way too harshly.

How much have the Christians harmed you in your lives? Because of some hideous Christians (non-authentic groups), we have bad impressions of them. But because of those people can we condemn all Christians? Look around yourself. There must be Christian friends. Are they all bad people and harm others?

If you just criticize the Christians and missionaries thoughtlessly, you’re really selfish. No, you’re bad. You don’t consider things commonly good. You just blame a small mistake and make about it 10 times or 100 times worse. Like the army…

Shiver compared the Afghaistan situation to a movie.

2002년에 개봉한 한편의 영화가 있다. ‘2009 로스트 메모리즈’
2차대전은 일본제국의 승리로 마무리 되고, 2009년 현재 서울은 일본의 제3도시이다. 일본의 지배에 대항하는 반군 조직 후레이센진. 영화의 주인공은 일본연방수사국의 요원으로 후레이센진의 테러를 진압한다. 하지만 후레이센진의 테러에서 이상한 점을 발견한 주인공은 사건을 축소시키려는 일본정부의 명령을 어기고, 점차 숨겨진 과거의 역사로 다가서게 되는데-
액션판타지를 표방한 영화로 역사적 사실과는 거리가 매우 먼 영화이다. 하지만 이 시점에서 이 영화가 떠오르는것은, 아프간과 탈레반의 입장을 이해하는 일에 우리가 지닌 역사가 시사하는 바가 분명 있을 것이기 때문이다

영화의 가정대로 일본이 2차대전의 승전국이 되고 결국 조선은 온데간데 없이 사라졌다고 생각 해 보자. 1945년으로부터 반세기가 더 지난 2009년까지도 한반도에서 일본의 지배 사회가 붕괴되지 않았다는건 우리입장에서 상상하는 것 조차 거북스러운 일이다. 누가 되었든 일본에 대항해 들고 일어섰을 것이고, 때로는 폭력적인 방법을 동원해서라도 주권을 회복하기 위한 노력을 끈질기게 이어왔을 것이다. 그리고 실제로 우리의 역사는 이러한 노력을 통해 오늘날까지 이어올 수 있게 된 것이다. 우리가 ‘의사'라고 부르며 존경해 마지 않고 교과서에 그 이름과 공적을 담아 기리는 사람들이 없었다면, 우리는 영화의 가정이 결코 가정이 아닌 오늘날을 살고 있을지도 모를 일이다.

하지만 구국의 민족 영웅인 이러한 ‘의사'들은 다른이들로 하여금 다른 이름으로 불리울 수도 있다. 바로,
테러리스트…

우리 역사의 의사들과 그들의 의거가 우리 역사에서는 결코 테러리스트들의 테러가 아니듯, 이슬람 사회에겐 빈 라덴과 탈레반은 의사요, 그들이 실행한 테러는 의거일 수 있는 것이기 때문이다

영화 속 2009년의 한국인들이 자신을 한국인이라 인식하지 못하고 살아가는 것과 마찬가지로, 우리는 우리의 입장이 아닌것을 우리의 입장으로 받아들이고 있는 일인지도 모른다.

…이슬람은 종교의 차원을 벗어나 그것을 믿는 사람들에게 깊숙히 뿌리내린 생활 양식이며 인류가 이룩한 하나의 문화이다. 이러한 문화는 결코 타 문화와 우열을 가리는 비교대상이 될 수 없다. 하지만 인질이 된 그들은 어땠는가

세계 최고의 폭력국가인 미국에 대항해 자국의 주권과 문화를 지키려는 이들에게, 그들의 주권이자 문화인 종교를 부정하며 접근하는것은 자살행위를 하는것과 마찬가지다. 동시에 다른차원의 테러이다. 미국에 대항하는것만도 많은 희생이 따르는 어려운 일인데, 거기에 미국에 지원군을 파견한 나라에서 왔다는 사람들이 자신들이 미국으로부터 지키고자 하는것을 부정하고 있으니, 오죽했으랴

그 전에 알아둬야 할 것이 있다. 아프가니스탄을 비롯한 중동의 여러 국가가 테러와의 전쟁 대상국이 되도록 만든것이 누구이며, 선교활동을 하는 이들이 납치당해야 하도록 만든것은 또 누구인지

또한 우리 역사의 의사들이 그토록 지켜내고자 한 것이 무엇이었으며, 오늘날 이슬람의 그들이 지켜내고자 하는것은 무엇인지, 그리고 오늘날의 우리가 지켜내지 못하고 있는것이 무엇인지도-
폭력은 어떠한 경우에도 정당화 될 수 없다. 하지만 더 큰 폭력에 대항하기 위한 폭력이라면?

There was a movie, ‘2009 Lost Memories,’ which showed in 2002.
The story is like this: World War II ends with the victory of Japan. Seoul is the third city of Japan. There is an anti-Japan organization, Huraisenjin. The main character is a policeman to supress terror of this organization. However, he finds strange things while he is against the organization and tracks down the history…

This fantastic movie is different from reality. But the reason why I thought about this movie was that our history could not be so different from the current situations of Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Imagine! There is no Korea. Japan won World War II like the movie. It is not so comfortable to imagine that Korea is cotrolled by Japan until 2009 from 1945 in our perspective. I am sure that, if it is like that, there will be some people who are against it and sometimes violent methods must be continually used in order to take our sovereignty back. If we didn't have “independent activists” at that time whom we respect now, the hypothesis of the movie could be real and we live like the movie today.

But these national heroes could be called different names.
It would be “terrorists.” …

Activists and their actions during the Japanese colonization period are not called terrorists and terror in our history. Bin Laden and the Taleban might not be regarded as a terrorist and terror in Islamic society. Back to the movie story, Koreans in 2009 don't recognize themselves as Koreans. We might have tried to understand situations we don’t truly understand.

Islam is not only religion, but also a living custom that Muslims built up and a culture that humans accomplished. It is impossible to compare it with others in terms of the superiority or inferiority. But how about the hostages?

It is suicide to approach these people denying their own sovereignty and religion. They are fighting against the U.S.A., the most violent country, in order to keep their authority and culture. At the same time, it is a different kind of terror. Fighting against the U.S.A. is hard enough and brings about a lot of victims. And how would they think those 20 people from a nation that supports the U.S. came to their country and denies what they regard the most important?

There are things we should know. Who made Middle Eastern countries dangerous places where wars occur? Who made missionaries be abducted? What did our national heroes try to get back, what do Muslims try to keep today, and what couldn’t we keep well today? Violence can't be justified in any cases. But if it is the violence in order to be against bigger violence?

9 comments

  • There is a global petition to free the hostages here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/honour_the_afghan_code/?cl=14674203

  • J. Kactuz

    No, the question is not why the missionaries had to go to such a dangerous place, it is why Muslims have to do the vile things they do in the name of their religion and culture.

    Once again we see Islamic hate, violence and intolerance.

    And excuses, and more excuses. Muslims always blame others for their own faults.

    If they don’t like what these missionaries have to say, then walk away or argue the subject. But no, Muslims take prisoners and kill.

    Islam is not a religion , it is a cult of hate, destruction and death.

    Kactuz

  • Marva

    Islam is a religion just as Hinduism, Catholicism, and Protestanism are religions. All harbor adherents who destroy using their religion as a shield. Let’s not demonize Islam. Doing so only helps those who want us not to dialogue constructively. And I wish the moderator would not allow the demonization of others in the name of promoting healthy dialogues in the future.

  • Rishi Ali John

    Abduction of 23 Koreans is bad, one is already killed. But in the name of religion people travel as tourists with smiles and curiousity in war torn zones is itself painful to see, on top of that this group comes across as Christian missionaries in Islamic country. Why put a tag of religion? What purpose? What motive? These people were not goats to huddle to a Afghanistan. Apart from that the western world power of wealth has launched a movement across the globe to spread Christianity without realizing the terror consequences it might have in poor and war torn nations. Those top Christian leaders – Popes and various sects should be the one who should be subjected to inquiry of forcing people to get attracted to Christianity, just because of they have got money.

  • mahathir_fan

    How can we get the hostages released? I offer 6 possible solutions:

    1) Afgan government comply and release the 23 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 21 Koreans. This will succeed in bringing back all the Korean prisoners. Such exchanges had taken place in the past and were successful. But will the Aghan government agree to this prisoner exchange?

    2) We appeal to Taliban in the name of humanity to release the Korean prisoners. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to succeed.

    3) We launch a rescue mission. Problem we might end up with all hostages dead until we get more intelligence.

    4) We pay money/ransom instead. But so far, Taliban does not seem to be interested.

    5) We threaten the Taliban of an invasion on Taliban territory and possibly violate the sovereignty of the Aghan goverment. This is doable for a country like the US, but for a weakling like the South Korean government, is unable to bring it up.

    6) Last but not least, we pray to our Lord Jesus Christ that he will rescue those prisoners. We get the best of the best pastors and church leader to do the prayers. As God said, “Ask and it shall be given”.

    If we want to see all the Koreans back alive, the most likely solution that would be successful is 1). Everybody knows that. Do the prisoner exchange. Saving 22 good souls is worth more than the imprisonment of the 23 Taliban fighters.

  • im from south korea…i would really like to see those people come back safely. what i just dont understand, is why the islamics would treat other religions like that…

    mahathir_fan: 6) Last but not least, we pray to our Lord Jesus Christ that he will rescue those prisoners. We get the best of the best pastors and church leader to do the prayers. As God said, “Ask and it shall be given”.

    hopefully our sixth option will work, because it will greatly sadden me if all hostages were killed, and the Islamics wouldnt really be leading the moral lives they were instructed to lead, in their religion…

  • Sunny

    All religion has it’s fanatics. People use religion as their shield, their scapegoat. True Muslims aren’t these monsters that kidnap and kill. It’s the fanatics, the misled, misguided who are smearing the name of Islam. It’s not only Islam that’s been through this, look at the Spanish inquisition – thousands and thousands murdered in the name of God. If they truly believed in God, they would know how precious life really is.

    As for the Koreans, it’s truly unfortunate for all of them to be in this position but they went knowing their risks. They all signed “wills”, knowing they could die going there. It was rash and foolish to send these people in such an unstable place but hopefully other missions/churches would learn from this. These young souls went trying to save the people of Afghanistan but Missions and Churches should also think to save their own.

  • […] If you’re interested in what’s being said in South Korea, I recommend reading posts here, here and here for starters. Filled under: In the News | You can follow any responses to this […]

  • […] Team von koreanischen Vermittlern anreiste, schweigt die südkoreanische Regierung zu dem Fall. Hyejin Kim hat sich für Global Voices in koreanischen Blogs umgesehen – hier wird vor allem eine Frage […]

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