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US Covered Up Kim Abduction to Ensure South Korean Troop Dispatch

Korea Times | June 25 2004

Video of Kim Sun-il beheading. Warning, very graphic, should only be seen by a mature audience.

Comment: Same decor, same orange jump suit. Victim looks already heavily sedated before beheading. Victim hated George Bush and US involvement in Iraq (why would Muslims kill him?). Korean government knew he was taken weeks before it was announced (or US prevented them from finding out, whichever is true). Is this merely a copycat killing or is it another Berg style psy-op?

The United States on Tuesday faced allegations that it had intentionally kept South Korea in the dark about the abduction of Kim Sun-il, the South Korean interpreter working for a subcontractor to U.S. forces in Iraq.

According to South Korean government officials, it had become aware of Kim being kidnapped on June 21, at least three days after he was taken hostage by an al-Qaida-supported terrorist group.

Kim was an employee of the Gana General Trading Company. In an interview with South Korean Yonhap News Agency, the president of the company, Kim Chun-ho, said that he had received a notification from U.S. forces there about Kim’s abduction on June 16.

The Gana president said that he had consultations with U.S. military authorities on June 20 before conducting up to six rounds of negotiations with hostage takers. The Korea Times tried to get in contact with U.S. forces in Iraq but they were not available.

This has caused South Korean newspapers to question why the U.S. didn’t inform the South Korean government.

According to officials at South Korea’s Defense Ministry, a low-ranking representative of U.S. marines stationed in Falluja, where Kim was kidnapped, told the Gana president of Kim’s abduction but there are so many foreigners being kidnapped on a daily basis that Kim’s abduction didn’t go through a chain of command.

The crux of the allegations of a U.S. cover-up is that the Seoul government confirmed its plan to dispatch an additional 3,000 troops to Iraq, on July 18, the day after Kim was kidnapped. By the accounts of the Seoul government, it wasn’t aware of the incident.

This has touched off speculation that the U.S. didn’t inform Seoul of the kidnapping in order to enable the South Korean government to press ahead with its confirmation of the dispatch plan. Experts say that if the kidnapping had been known to the public, the government would have had a very hard time in pushing ahead with the unpopular dispatch plan.

Asked whether the U.S. made contact with the South Korean government to share the information on the kidnapping, a Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to answer but said, ``We are sorry that we can’t provide further details because sensitive government efforts are underway to save his life.’’

Shin said it is inappropriate to provide any information critical to their negotiations with the kidnappers on the release of the South Korean hostage.

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Korean Government Accused of Cover-up Over Kim Sun-il Beheading

Korean Herald | June 25 2004

Suspicions are snowballing that the Korean government might have covered up, or neglected, the kidnapping of Kim Sun-il, the 33-year-old Korean hostage beheaded Tuesday by Islamic militants in Iraq.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that it had contacted the Foreign Ministry in the first week of this month to ask whether there was any Korean with the name Kim Sun-il, or something similar, kidnapped in Iraq after its television affiliate APTN acquired a videotape, which showed Kim's early days as a hostage. The ministry replied "No."

"On June 3, an Associated Press reporter in Seoul telephoned the Korean Foreign Ministry to ask if the ministry knew whether a Korean citizen with a name that sounded like Kim Sun-il was missing in Iraq. An official in the ministry said the ministry was not aware of any Korean of that name - or any other Korean citizen - was missing or in captivity," Jack Stokes, director of AP's Media Relations, said in a statement to the Korean press.

"In conversation with the ministry, the AP reporter did not mention the videotape in an effort to confirm independently whether a Korean citizen was missing," Stokes said.

The government said it learned the news of his abduction for the first time when the Arab television station Al-Jazeera aired a videotape on June 21 showing Kim pleading for his life, more than three weeks after he was kidnapped, perhaps on May 31.

After changing his mind several times, the president of Gana General Trading Co., Kim Chun-ho, confirmed he had not seen his employee since May 31.

It remains uncertain whether the ministry official reported this officially to the authorities, or just neglected the phone call.

Whatever the official did, political analysts believe that strong censure and a far-reaching shake-up of the ministry are inevitable.

The National Security Council has launched an investigation into Foreign Ministry staff, while the main opposition Grand National Party is pushing for a parliamentary hearing over the mystery surrounding Kim's abduction and death.

The Foreign Ministry said it had to confirm the truth and had started probing its staff in the public relations office and other related bureaus. The ministry at the same time requested AP to say who in the news agency telephoned whom in the ministry, what the reporter said and asked exactly, and when the call was made.

On the videotape, broadcast yesterday by the Korean media, a voice off camera asks Kim questions and he replies in halting English.

He gives his name, says he was born Sept. 13, 1970, and gives his place of birth as Busan. He also describes U.S. President George W. Bush as a terrorist and says he does not like the United States because they are killing Iraqis.

"I saw George Bush attack here because of Iraqi oil," he said. "So I don't like George Bush or America."

"I like Iraqi people. The Iraqi people are very kind," Kim said. "I think they are poor because of war."

AP said the video was delivered to APTN on June 3, but was not aired because it was unclear if Kim was being held against his will.

However, then suspicious is why AP only released the video tape three days after Kim's kidnapping was made public.

"It has not yet been confirmed whether we received any such phone call from AP. We are requesting details about the phone call from AP headquarters in New York and demanding their immediate response," Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil told a news briefing yesterday.

Shin reaffirmed the government first learned the news of Kim's kidnapping through the al-Jazeera report.

"There are more than 1,000 staff at the ministry and everyone receives countless phone calls every day. So, if the reporter called us and asked if there was any Korean hostage in Iraq, without mentioning the name of Kim Sun-il and his videotape, I can say it's almost impossible to find out who received the phone call," another ministry official said.

Al-Qaida-linked militants in Iraq beheaded Kim Tuesday, after their 24-hour deadline expired, when Seoul refused to cancel plans to send an additional 3,000 troops to Iraq.

Many Koreans have blamed the government for failing to secure Kim's safe release by standing firm on the troop dispatch plan and by dealing with the case belatedly and ineffectively.