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Kidnapped Korean trade official freed in Libya Updated: 2014-01-23 21:58:03 KST

Three days after he was kidnapped, Korean trade official Han Seok-woo was safely rescued with the help of the Libyan government.
Korea's foreign ministry said Thursday that Han, the head of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency's unit in Libya, is in good health and has been handed over to the Korean embassy in Tripoli.

"Han was safely freed by the Libyan government at around midnight Thursday, Korea time and the Korean embassy received him at around 4 a.m. No health problems have been detected."

The rescue operation was led by Libyan security forces, and they have arrested four kidnappers, who are reportedly part of a small militia.
The identity and motive of the kidnappers remains a mystery, and while there were reports that they asked for as much as two million U.S. dollars, the foreign ministry says no ransom money was handed over.

"Throughout the process of Han's rescue operation, the Korean government followed its principle of not paying ransom to kidnappers."

After being interviewed by the embassy about his abduction, Han is expected to travel to the Mediterranean island of Malta where he will meet up with his family before later returning to Korea.
Whether Han returns to his post in Libya is undecided for now, but KOTRA says the decision is solely up to him.
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 targeted for abductions.

"As this was the first time a Korean was abducted in Libya Seoul's foreign ministry said it will thorougly review the case to prevent similar incidents from happening again in the future.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News."


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