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South Korean missionary couple abducted in Haiti freed

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Yonhap)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Yonhap)

A South Korean missionary couple kidnapped by an unidentified group in Haiti were released over the weekend, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The two Korean nationals were freed at around noon on Saturday, local time, after being held captive for 17 days. They left the country on Sunday and are to return home via a third country. The couple remain in good health, the ministry said.

The two were abducted by a gang on the outskirts of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on June 24 while moving in a vehicle. Three others who were kidnapped along with the couple have been freed as well.

In response to the capture, the Foreign Ministry set up a task force, led by Second Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-moon, to intensify efforts for the release of the couple. Last month, First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun held a phone call with Haiti’s interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph and requested support and cooperation for the release. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Lee In-ho, who is in charge of Haiti affairs, met with officials from the country’s police and other officials.

The Caribbean nation has long been plagued by political unrest, poverty, natural disasters and widespread gang violence. Kidnapping for ransom has surged in recent months in the country, with more than 150 armed gangs known to be operating. According to a Haitian civil group estimate, more than 3,000 cases of abduction occurred in 2020.

The South Korean government has recommended its citizens in the country leave since February 2019, due to rising political instability, which was further aggravated after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated last week.

There are around 150 South Korean nationals residing in the country, many of whom work in textiles.

The ministry said it has asked its citizens in Haiti to refrain from going outside and to take extra care for their safety. The government is also providing flight information and recommending they leave the country for safer areas.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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