Korean hostages beaten in Afghanistan

ANYANG, South Korea — The 21 South Koreans held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan said Wednesday that the insurgents used bayonets and beatings to pressure some of them to convert to Islam but that a few were relatively well-treated.

The former captives were released from a hospital Wednesday and moved to a rehabilitation center. They described their ordeal in a meeting with the media here, where they have been receiving medical treatment since they returned home 10 days ago.

What they endured

“They kicked us and beat us with guns and tree branches. Sometimes, they aimed their bayonet-topped rifles at our necks,” said Je Chang Hee.

They were kept together for the first three days, later separated into several small groups, and were moved often. Some were held in a mountain cave, some in a shed.

Some were forced to work. A few were relatively well-treated, even allowed to call home. Some pretended to recite Islamic conversion prayers by muttering some Korean words.

What’s next

Dr. Park Sang Eun, who has been treating the hostages, said they have recovered from physical injuries but that they need more treatment to deal with possible depression and other mental problems.


The 23 South Koreans were originally seized July 19 from a bus; two were killed.

They faced harsh public criticism in South Korea for going to Afghanistan, but their church insisted the trip was only for humanitarian aid, not missionary work.

They were freed after South Korea promised to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and not to let Christian missionaries travel to the country.

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