ISIS reaches Korea

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ISIS reaches Korea

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency announces today the results of its investigation of a case involving a Korean teen surnamed Kim who is still missing after he went to the border of Turkey and Syria on Jan 10. Taking circumstantial evidence into account, he most likely crossed into Syria to join the radical Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The police discovered a trace of his interest in ISIS from a Twitter message. He asked how to join the terrorist group. It turned out that he had used Surespot - a secure mobile messaging application that uses exceptional end-to-end encryption for every text, image and voice message - to communicate with a man linked to the radical Islamist group.

The moment when Kim got into a taxi with a local man after checking out from a hotel in Kilis, a city in southcentral Turkey near the border with Syria, was captured on CCTV. The drive from Kilis to the border was captured on a “black box” camera in the unlicensed taxi the two men rode in. The way he contacted ISIS is similar to the way other foreigners did, and the route he used - entering Syria via Turkey - also is similar. Considering such evidence, it is very unlikely he had any aim other than joining the extremist group.

If he really went to Syria to join a terrorist group, that’s a serious matter as Korea’s younger generation is obviously also susceptible to the ISIS’s appeal. The group mostly uses the Internet to approach juveniles who are ostracized by the mainstream society of their native countries.

The group even attempts to lure them by offering a $1,000 monthly payment. Thanks to the bait, as many as 15,000 youths from 82 countries around the globe have joined the group so far. Even in Asia, people from ten countries, including Japan, China and countries in Southeast Asia have joined the group.

Kim is known to have mostly stayed home as a loner after quitting middle school. Even though it is too early to say for sure, we cannot rule out the possibility that other people in his age group will follow in his footsteps, especially if Kim joined the group out of a sense of desperation and alienation. There’s a lot of that going around in our young generation. Youths are frustrated due to poor academic performances or family trouble or, most troubling, the difficulty of finding a job. ISIS is a fanatical group willing to mercilessly behead innocent hostages. Our families and schools must educate the young generation about this barbaric band.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 21, Page 30

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