Chuseok in chainsThe families of the Korean sailors who were kidnapped by pirates off the coast Somalia went to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to protest. The sailors have been held for more than four months since they were kidnapped on May. 15, 210 miles northeast of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
The protesters are the families of the captain, Han Seok-ho, the chief engineer, Cho Mun-gap and two sailors, Yang Chil-tae and Lee Seong-nyeol.
They complained that they trusted the government and had been waiting for 130 days but the hostages were being forgotten, instead of released. They said the government had an entirely different stance on the sailors compared to the way it dealt with the hostage crisis in Afghanistan.
The government must have an explanation. The 24 sailors who were kidnapped are not all Koreans. They include some sailors from other countries, such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam. The captors have only demanded money from the Korean captain, even though he is not well off by any standard.
There must be something preventing the government from stepping in directly or paying the ransom on behalf of the captain.
There is a rumor that the hostages managed to get 70,000 dollars delivered to the pirates, but 1.5 million dollars was paid for the release of five Danish sailors so the pirates demanded more money from the Koreans
During the hostage crisis in Afghanistan, the South Korean government took every step they could. Kim Man-bok, the head of the National Intelligence Service, flew to Kabul and directed negotiations. He said that if South Koreans are in danger it’s his duty to go anywhere to rescue them.
It is understandable that the families of the kidnapped sailors are unhappy when the government did so much to rescue hostages who were kidnapped while on a controversial missionary expedition, but neglects people who were kidnapped while working.
The two hostage cases are, in essence, the same. Koreans were taken hostage abroad by armed kidnappers. If it is difficult for the government to intervene directly, it can search for a flexible and creative way to resolve the case, as it said it would do during the Afghanistan crisis.
If people feel they are discriminated against by the government, they will not trust the government. The government must do more for the families of the hostages held in Somalia. There will be no Chuseok for them.