South Korean Media: What About Our 300 Hostages Held by North Korea?
South Korean journalists in the United States seem pleased about Euna Lee and Laura Ling’s release. But they are asking a bigger question: How about the approximately 300 South Koreans the North has been holding as hostages for years?
“It is very difficult to free our own South Korean hostages because North Korea intentionally treats our government differently. We are not America,” Jong Hoon Kim, editor of Korea Daily in Atlanta told New America Media’s Anthony Advincula and Eunji Jang.
The American government, Kim added, is willing to make negotiations. “South Korean President Lee Myung Bak is conservative. He doesn’t want to negotiate. Under the Obama administration, American politics is more democratic and open to peace talks.”
The result, Kim said, is that hundreds of South Korean hostages languish in North Korean prisons. These hostages – the most recent of whom include two fishermen – have been taken in small groups over time and stand little chance of release.
Albert Hong, reporter for Korea Daily in Washington, D.C., said that North Korea wants to show the world that its government can make a deal with America, the most powerful country in the world.
“North Korea is in dire situation, politically. They have the missiles and the world doesn’t like it. So a negotiation (like the release of the American journalists) could alleviate the pressure,” said Hong.