S. Korean trade agency employee kidnapped in Libya

January 20, 2014
The kidnapped person was identified as Han Seok-woo, the head of the Libya unit of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).

The kidnapped person was identified as Han Seok-woo, the head of the Libya unit of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).

(Yonhap) A South Korean trade agency employee in his late 30s was kidnapped in Libya, but the identities of his kidnappers are still not known, the foreign ministry said Monday.

The kidnapped person was identified as Han Seok-woo, the head of the Libya unit of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), according to the ministry and KOTRA. He was returning home after work at the trade office in Tripoli, the capital city, when about four unidentified, armed men took him, according to the government entities.

“The culprits’ car stopped Han’s car driven by an Iraqi driver, and they picked him up and drove away westward at around 00:30 a.m. Korean time,” a foreign ministry official said, citing information provided by the driver who was not kidnapped.

The motive for this abduction is not known, the official said, adding that the usual motives for kidnapping in Libya are either for ransom or religious purposes.

The ministry is studying all the possibilities on who is behind the abduction, including some named abduction organizations, according to the official. “Libya is in a bad state of public security and about 10 robbery cases on South Korean residents were reported there in 2013 alone,” he said.

The ministry established an emergency task force to win the early release of the South Korean and requested Libyan government’s cooperation in efforts to locate the kidnappers and free the 39-year-old trade agency worker, according to the official.

He refused to comment on the state of Han, citing the need for confidentiality in dealing with abduction cases.

“South Korea will make utmost efforts and use all the channels, public and private, including the Libyan Embassy in Seoul, to win the safe release of him as soon as possible,” the ministry official said.

The ministry also plans to issue a special travel warning on Libya, banning South Koreans from traveling to the country, in light of the abduction case.

 

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