Losing face, gaining wisdomThe Blue House announced Tuesday that the hostage crisis in Afghanistan has been resolved after 41 days and soon all 19 hostages will return home to their families.
The Taliban said yesterday that some of the hostages had already been released and the rest will be set free within several days. The crisis is expected to end soon unless something unexpected happens.
But this is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new phase. It will be the beginning of debates and a look back at what went wrong. This crisis raised grave questions about the divide between the country’s responsibility and the responsibility of individuals.
The South Koreans who were held as hostages had ignored the South Korean government’s warning to refrain from traveling to Afghanistan. In front of the warning sign at the airport, they posed for a picture making “V” signs, signifying “victory” with their fingers and big smiles.
It doesn’t appear that they took proper safety measures or had a deep understanding about Islamic countries. They had a good cause but their behavior was careless.
As a result, they put a heavy burden on their country.
The Korean government broke the generally accepted principle of the international community that one should not negotiate with terrorists and chose to have direct discussions with the Taliban. The government had no other choice because it was in a desperate situation and needed to save its citizens from danger.
But that made Korea a country which has broken an important rule when the world is at war against terrorism. Korea also offered the Taliban, a terrorist group that kidnaps and kills people, actual benefits, increasing the possibility of similar cases.
Of course, getting the 19 Korean hostages back on their home soil was the most important and urgent short-term objective.
Now that it seems to have been achieved, the government and the people need to have discussions to prevent similar unfortunate situations.
The government must prepare manuals on how to respond to emergencies when they occur and must have a higher state of readiness. And the government must clarify where its responsibility lies and where it ends and let the people know that.
A system to provide accurate information about traveling overseas must be established.
In this global era, the government and Koreans must learn from this hostage case and become more mature.