중앙데일리

New mystery arises in killing of Kim Sun-il

June 24,2004
In a mounting controversy, South Korean Foreign Ministry officials came under intense pressure yesterday from legislators to explain when they first learned of the abduction of Kim Sun-il, the Korean national beheaded in Iraq by Islamic militants, and what they tried to do to save him.
The situation took on gravity after a new videotape surfaced that indicates Mr. Kim had fallen into the hands of insurgents in Iraq long before the Foreign Ministry has acknowledged knowing about it, despite having been questioned about an abduction of a Korean national by international news media.
President Roh Moo-hyun ordered the Board of Audit and Inspection to investigate the matter, said Blue House Spokesman Yoon Tai-young.
In a special questioning session at the National Assembly, South Korea’s foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon, repeatedly apologized for Mr. Kim’s death and the government’s failure to win his release.
Lawmakers asked that those responsible be held accountable. Representative Han Myung-sook of the governing Uri Party said, “Depending on the outcome of the internal investigation, a severe reprimand should follow. “
Representative Maeng Hyung-kyu of the opposition Grand National Party said, “We need a thorough investigation. Minister, you should be held responsible.”
The new videotape delivered in early June to Associated Press Television News in Baghdad shows Mr. Kim, clean-shaven and calm. He introduced himself as a South Korean mathematics teacher and sharply criticized U.S. policy in Iraq, saying he “hated U.S. citizens, U.S. soldiers and [President George W.] Bush.”
Speaking in English to an unseen questioner, Mr. Kim appeared alone on the tape. The three-minute tape circulated on the Internet yesterday.
Jack Stokes, director of media relations at The Associated Press, said in a statement issued from the company’s headquarters in New York, that “on June 3, an Associated Press reporter in Seoul telephoned the South Korean Foreign Ministry to ask if the ministry knew whether a South Korean citizen with a name sounding like Kim Sun-il, was missing.”
Mr. Stokes wrote that an official in the ministry said he was not aware that “any South Korean of that name ― or any other South Korean citizen ― was missing or in captivity.”
The reporter did not mention the videotape in his effort to confirm whether a South Korean citizen was missing, Mr. Stokes wrote.
The Associated Press issued the statement after the ministry asked its Seoul bureau to confirm which official received the call and how that official responded. The ministry has launched an internal investigation after the news surfaced.
Shin Bong-kil, the ministry spokesman, said, “This is a very serious matter. We have asked the Seoul bureau which reporter asked the question, when and how.”
In the tape, Mr. Kim says: “I like Iraqi people. I think they are poor because of war.”


by Oh Young-hwan, Chae Byung-gun


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