South Korean civic groups, ordinary citizens and college students are escalating calls for the cancellation of the government's planned deployment of additional troops to Iraq
Aunt of Kim Sun-il, a South Korean man held hostage in Iraq, asked for an immediate cancellation of the planned dispatch of additional Korean troops to Iraq, June 21, 2004.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)
S.Korean civic groups demand troop dispatch cancellation
SEOUL, June 21 (Xinhuanet) -- South Korean civic groups, ordinary citizens and college students are escalating calls for the cancellation of the government's planned deployment of additional troops to Iraq, voicing shock and resentment over the kidnapping of a South Korean man by Iraqi insurgents.
Following the reports of a South Korean national being held hostage in Iraq on Monday, the nation's leading civic groups and college-student associations issued a string of statements urging the immediate release of the hostage and the nullification of the decision to dispatch more troops to Iraq, according to Yonhap.
The civic groups and the progressive Democratic Labor Party also organized candlelight rallies in downtown Seoul and Busan in order to further press the government to abandon the troop dispatch plan.
In a more militant move, a group of 10 civic activists seized achapter office of the ruling Uri Party in Jeonju, about 240 kilometers south of Seoul. The activists then began a sit-in at the party office and issued a statement for the immediate cancellation of the troop dispatch plan to help rescue the hostage.
They also urged the Iraqi insurgents not to detain South Korean civilians as a means to deter the troop dispatch.
Meanwhile, student bodies of a dozen colleges nationwide issued similar statements asking for the halting of all troop dispatch procedures and for the freeing of the hostage. Enditem
Parents of S.Korean hostage ask for canceling troop dispatch plan
SEOUL, June 21 (Xinhuanet) -- The parents of Kim Sun-il, a South Korean man held hostage in Iraq, asked for an immediate cancellation of the planned dispatch of additional Korean troops to Iraq so as to secure their son's release at a candlelight vigilin downtown Busan Monday night.
Taking part in the rally jointly organized by about 100 local civic groups, Kim's parents -- Kim Jong-gyu and Shin Young-ja -- pleaded for their son's release, according to the S.Korean Yonhap news agency.
"The only way to obtain the release of my son Sun-il is to cancel the troop dispatch plan," Kim's mother sobbed, calling for help from President Roh Moo-hyun and the Korean government.
The rally was attended by several hundred residents of the southeastern port city. Another candlelight vigil for the release of Kim was held in downtown Seoul. Enditem
S.Koreans against troop dispatch to Iraq
SEOUL, June 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Responding to footage of a South Korean hostage in Iraq pleading for his life on Monday, many South Koreans are turning against the government's plan to send more troops to the Middle Eastern country, Internet surveys showed.
An online survey of 1,612 people by Naver.com, one of the most popular portal sites here, showed 63.2 percent of respondents opposed the troop dispatch plan, nearly double the 33.2 percent who gave their approval, according to Yonhap.
The result was a significant reverse from a poll in October, which showed approval by 48.6 percent of respondents and opposition by 47.4 percent.
The switch of the public attitude was also shown in a survey byYahoo.co.kr. It found 63 percent were opposed and 32 percent agreed.
The South Korean government has reaffirmed its plan to send 3,660 troops to Iraq, with the first batch leaving in July. Their operations will mainly involve rehabilitation work rather than combat, it said. Enditem