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» 08/29/2007
SOUTH KOREA – AFGHANISTAN
Korean bishop expresses joy for hostages, sense of humiliation for Taliban deal
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Taejŏn and chairman of Caritas Corea, talks to AsiaNews about the “dangerous precedent” set by the South Korean authorities in dealing directly with Islamic fundamentalists. People in South Korea feel joy that human lives were spared, but also humiliation about Protestant Churches, which have come under intense criticism in South Korean society.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The agreement sealed by the South Korean government and the Talibans for the release of Christian hostages is “a source of joy because human life must always come first. But at the same time it should not set an example for the rest of the world,” said Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Taejŏn and chairman of Caritas Corea, when he heard about the release of the first South Korean Christian hostages abducted in Afghanistan on July 19.

The prelate told AsiaNews that “the release of Protestant missionaries has set a dangerous precedent. Our government humiliated itself by dealing with fundamentalists. Now they can think they can do the same with other hostages. At the same time, the agreement humiliated Protestant Churches who have been much criticised at home for their action abroad and for the ransom many think they paid.”

This is because “Korean Protestants are sometime themselves fundamentalist and aggressive in their faith. They talk about social service but in reality seek conversions, often forcefully. This is no true evangelical spirit; it is not true mission. Now many have come to realise this here (in South Korea) as well.”

South Korean Protestant organisations welcomed the agreement between the government and the Talibans with joy. They have pledged not to undertake any missionary activities in Afghanistan as agreed to in the release deal.

Christian Council of Korea Chairman Lee Yong-kyu thanked the government for its efforts on behalf of the hostages and expressed sympathy for the families of the captives.

The Korea National Council of Churches in a statement Tuesday night said it was “right to respect the government’s agreement with the Taliban,” adding that it will use the hostage crisis as a opportunity to reflect on Korean Churches’ overseas missionary strategies and to devise more effective and safer ways to carry out missionary activities abroad.

But for Choi Han-woo, head of the Institute of Asian Culture and Development and organiser of an abortive “peace rally” of Korean Christians in Afghanistan last year, the Talibans “apparently demanded the ban to officially define Korean volunteer activities as missionary work and to justify their abduction.” Still he said that his organisation will pull out its “aid workers” from Afghanistan by late this month in compliance with the agreement.

Although two Christian missionaries were killed, the families of Korean hostages expressed joy and happiness for the successful end to the incident.

Ryu Haeng-sik, whose wife was among the hostages, said: “I could not tell my child that his mother was kidnapped,” but now “I am truly grateful to tell him that his mother will return.”


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See also
08/03/2006 AFGHANISTAN – SOUTH KOREA
Kabul to expel Korean evangelicals
08/14/2007 AFGHANISTAN – SOUTH KOREA
Two women freed by Talibans soon home
06/16/2006 SOUTH KOREA
Christian groups claim right to manage their own schools
08/16/2007 NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
Caritas Corea to help northern flood victims
08/31/2007 SOUTH KOREA – AFGHANISTAN
Final hostages freed, Korea evaluates the cost of the kidnapping

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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