[FOUNTAIN]Do the wrong thingThe industry of kidnapping for ransom and human trafficking has quite a long history. More than 2,000 years ago in ancient Rome, even Julius Caesar was a victim. In 78 B.C., Caesar was kidnapped by pirates and held hostage until his relatives paid a large ransom.
However, after being released, Caesar organized a fleet to sweep the pirates clear and crucify them. After experiencing the abduction, he came to realize that paying a ransom was only a temporary solution that leads to more crimes.
The principle remains intact even today. Western countries such as the United States, France and Germany do not negotiate with kidnappers as a rule. Paying a ransom to save the hostages will only encourage criminals to plan more kidnappings. However, it is only a theory. The reality is another story.
The Times of London recently reported that France, Germany and Italy broke the principle to free nine hostages abducted in Iraq. In order to save their citizens, the three countries spent a total of $45 million over the past 21 months, paying as much as $10 million per person.
It is a telling example that in reality, the priority is to rescue the citizens safely by taking all possible means, and adhering to principle to prevent future crimes is less urgent. The highest priority of any country is to protect its citizens, no matter what.
In fact, the U.S. government, which publicly stands by the rule, tacitly approves civilian companies paying ransom money to save kidnapped employees.
However, the governments publicly deny such deals, saying there were no demands for money or ransom payments. They are obviously experiencing a dilemma between the principle and the reality.
Koreans are working all over the world, so such a dilemma is not just other countries’ concern any longer. On April 4, eight Koreans and 17 foreign nationals onboard a fishing boat named Dongwon were taken by Somali pirates. On June 7, five Korean engineers were kidnapped in Nigeria while working at a gas plant construction site.
While no harm will be done to them, being detained against their will must be a tremendous agony. The crew of Dongwon has been kept hostage for more than two months now. The government needs to take immediate action.
I would like to see all the Korean abductees returning with a smile in the near future, because the government used all possible means while a government official cracks a smile and announces that Seoul did not pay any ransom money.
by Chae In-taek
The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.