The good news is that (so far) it looks like the Taliban might let those Korean hostages go.

Indeed, the news says that the Taliban will release three of the girls today, and the rest in the near future.

The good news is that so far reports say that there was no release of (foreign) Taliban fighters from their Afghan jails.

The bad news is twofold: First, there are rumors in both the BBC and the Korean Times that ransom was paid for the aid workers. Second, releasing the women was a “diplomatic coup”.

The Taliban had asked for half a million dollars for each hostage.

Here in the Philippines, rumors say that the Italians paid a million for Father Bossi, so I guess the girls were given a discount, two for the price of one. On the other hand, there are twenty plus hostages to pay for, so it does come to a bit of money.

But the really bad news is that the Taliban got a propaganda coup.

Harming guests, especially women, is a no-no in Islam. So when the American/Afghan governments refused to release hard core terrorists in exchange, the Taliban were left with an embarassing situation: kill the women, they earn shame. Keep them, and you might just see some special forces coming down the road. (Afghan police with Norwegian special forces rescued a German woman hostage last week).

But the Korean government refused such a rescue, worrying that some of their hostages might be harmed. And the anti American left in Korea was quietly ecstatic that they could blame America for the girls’ captivity while furthur upsetting the US by withdrawing Korean troops Iwho are mainly doing construction/aid work) early.

But the real gain on the part of the Taliban is that they now have gotten recognition by the diplomatic world. Instead of being outcasts, they got a major country to bow down and talk to them as equals.

As an editorial in the Korean Times writes:

the Korean government had an unprecedented tete-a-tete with an unauthorized terrorist group, helping the Taliban emerge with enhanced political legitimacy as a result of a successful negotiation with a foreign government.

Although the Taliban did not achieve their stubborn demands for a prisoner swap, they certainly obtained a lot in terms of political credibility through their direct negotiations with a foreign government in their “territory.” We cannot rule out the possibility that the unprecedented case may become an element that impairs the international status of Korea in the future.

Translation: no one will trust them in the future. And criminal/terror groups of all sorts will know that if there is a Korean aid worker nearby, a simple kidnapping will result in instant wealth. This does not bode well for the safety of the estimated 11,000 Koreans doing misisonary/aid work around the world.
How does one translate “Kimchee eating surrender monkeys” into Korean?

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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