Four Korean hostages released in the Philippines

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Four Korean hostages released in the Philippines

Four Korean men kidnapped and held hostage for four days in the Philippines were released on Monday evening, Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

Those abducted, including a 35-year-old man surnamed Cho and three of his relatives who are in their 30s and 40s, ran an Internet gambling business in the Philippines.

They were kidnapped on Thursday morning by unidentified assailants at an online gambling center in San Juan, north Manila, according to authorities.

The unidentified assailants demanded a ransom of 200 million won ($185,400) from the hostages’ family members in exchange for their release.

An official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the group of four men was released Monday at 11:30 p.m. on an abandoned road in northern Manila.

The Philippine National Police were involved in negotiating the men’s release, cooperating with the Korean Desk, who made contact with the kidnappers by pretending to be family members of the hostages. The Korean Desk works under the Philippine National Police to handle crimes involving Koreans.

Officials delivered part of the ransom money to negotiate the men’s release.

“They were roughed up [during the encounter], but they were not seriously injured,” the official said.

The Philippine National Police are in the process of investigating the case to arrest the kidnappers with the cooperation of the Korean Desk.

“This does not seem like a random act of crime targeting anybody, but an act linked with the online gambling website business,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said.

On Sunday, Korea imposed a special travel warning on Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines, amid an increase in crime in the region targeting Koreans.

In a separate incident, a young Korean man in his 20s, who is in the Philippines to study, was injured after being shot by an unidentified gunman in Bacolod, an economic hub in the Western Visayas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 Koreans were killed in the Philippines last year and 13 in 2013. A number of murders in recent years have involved Korean business owners in the country.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]


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