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South Korea Wrenched with Grief Over Hostage Beheading - 2004-06-23


Asia is reacting with shock at Iraqi militants beheading a South Korean worker they took hostage. The South Korean government is vowing not to be intimidated by such terror tactics and will standby plans to send additional troops to help rebuild the war-torn country.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun told his nation Wednesday he is heartsick and wrenched with grief over the beheading of translator Kim Sun-il.

Mr. Roh says the execution of the 33-year-old South Korean worker is an act against humanity. He vowed not to let terrorism stop South Korea's dispatch of an additional 3,000 troops to join some 600 already there to help rebuild Iraq.

Mr. Kim worked for a small South Korean firm that supplies goods to the U.S. military.

South Koreans are shocked after an emotionally wrenching few days. Television had been replaying a video released by his captors Sunday, showing Mr. Kim pleading with his government to end its involvement in Iraq, screaming, "I don't want to die."

It was South Korean Foreign Ministry Spokesman Shin Bong-ki who confirmed Mr. Kim's murder. He says all of the remains were found Tuesday by U.S. soldiers near Fallujah, about 35 kilometers outside Baghdad.

South Korean television on Wednesday showed Mr. Kim's distraught family grieving at their home in the southern port city of Busan. Within hours of the killing, some governing party and opposition lawmakers decided to submit to the National Assembly a resolution calling for the government to suspend and reconsider the troop dispatch.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has praised the South Korean president for his refusal to allow the murder to alter the troop dispatch.

Asian nations also condemned the beheading of translator Kim Sun-il.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi sent a message to her South Korean counterpart, Ban Ki-moon, saying she feels "deep sorrow and strong anger." Australia's Prime Minister John Howard calls the killing "sickening."

Fearing that graphic video of the execution could be distributed over the Internet, South Korea said Wednesday it would shut down any Internet sites posting the images.

The Middle East satellite television channel Al-Jazeera says it received tape showed the beheading, but that it decided not to broadcast the scenes.

Earlier beheadings of Americans Nicholas Berg and Paul Johnson by militants in Iraq and Saudi Arabia respectively have been widely disseminated across the worldwide web.