Kidnapped Korean trade official freed in LibyaUpdated: 2014-01-23 11:55:07 (KST)
Some good news to start off with
The Korean trade official who was kidnapped in Libya earlier this week has been rescued and is safe and unharmed.
For more, let's connect to our correspondent Hwang Sung-hee who is standing by at the Foreign Ministry.
Sung-hee, we hear the official is fine what other details do we know at the moment?
Korea's foreign ministry has confirmed that Han Seok-woo, the head of the Libya unit of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency , is in good health and has been safely handed over to the Korean embassy in Tripoli after being freed by Libyan security forces.
The release comes three days after Han was captured by a group of unidentified armed men on his way home from work.
After being interviewed by the embassy about his abduction, Han is expected to travel to the Mediterranean island of Malta to see his family there and return to Korea with them.
Whether or not Han returns to his post in Libya is undecided for now but KOTRA says the decision is solely up to him.
It sure is a relief to know that he is now in safe hands.
It must have been a terrible time for him and his family in particular.
But how did his release come about? Was there any ransom paid?
No, there wasn't although there were reports the kidnappers were asking for as much as two million U.S. dollars.
Seoul's foreign ministry says it's the Korean government's principle not to pay ransoms for abductees and said the ministry, in cooperation with the Libyan government, poured all its efforts into securing Han's release since the day he was kidnapped.
The rescue operation was led by Libyan security forces and they have arrested the four kidnappers, who are reportedly part of a small militia.
We still don't know why Han was taken in the first place, but it's believed the abduction was not ideologically or politically motivated, but that the kidnappers were after money.
Most of Libya has struggled with violence and unrest in recent years following the ouster and death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi and there are nearly 2-thousand such armed militias operating across the country with foreigners often being targeted for abductions.
This was the first time a Korean was abducted in Libya and the foreign ministry says it will review its security measures for Koreans residing in unstable regions to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Thank you, Sung-hee.
That was our Hwang Sung-hee reporting live on the safe release of Han Seok-woo, the Korean trade official who was kidnapped in Libya earlier this week.
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