Hope in the hostage ordealThe Taliban rebels released two female Korean hostages Monday, the first such action since the group was kidnapped on July 19, leaving 19 people still in captivity.
The situation is catastrophic, but the release is fortunate.
However, when we recall Bae Hyung-kyu and Shim Sung-min, who were kidnapped with the other 21 and murdered by the Taliban, the fate of those still in the hands of the rebels is frustrating.
Negotiations have taken place, but the government must have a firmer position when confronting the rebels in negotiations.
The Taliban claims that releasing the two sick female hostages without any pre-condition is a “friendly sign.” What nonsense it is for the kidnappers and murderers of innocent people to say that.
To the families and to the Korean government, the release can be interpreted as a positive signal that the rest of the hostages may be set free, depending on the results of the negotiations.
A rough road is expected, however, with the Taliban demanding the exchange of the hostages for Taliban prisoners held captive under the Afghanistan government’s authority.
Freeing the Taliban prisoners is out of the Korean government’s jurisdiction.
Only creative negotiation can provide a solution to a frightening situation which is out of our control.
It is time to proceed cautiously. Careful words and actions are required when the two released hostages return home.
If a statement from the released hostages interferes with the sensitive Taliban transfer, especially through the media, the negotiation process could blow up with horrible results.
Until the rest of the hostages are freed, the media should show restraint and mature behavior and refrain from reporting unsubstantiated facts without careful consideration.
This is the first time the Korean government and the Korean people have endured this kind of tense and deadly serious hostage situation.
In one respect, the crisis can be viewed as a learning experience and a growing pain during the development of Korean society.
It is a trial and an ordeal for everyone, but at the same time it is a chance to learn.
The government must rise to the occasion and demonstrate its very best diplomacy, wisdom and strategy.
Most of us can only wait, pray and hope for the best outcome.