South Korean captives hunger strike for change in Taliban prisons, 2007

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Time Period:  
Time period notes: 
Although the end of the hunger strike was not documented by the press, all evidence points to the hunger strike ending on August 29, 2007, the date the Taliban released the South Korean hostages.
August 19,
August 29,
Location and Goals
South Korea
Location City/State/Province: 
Ghazni Province, Afghanistan
Location Description: 
various locations in the Province
The three hostages demanded that all 19 South Korean hostages be held together rather than in separate groups in various locations.

In 2007, three South Korean hostages of the Taliban launched a 10-day long hunger strike. Their goal was to unite all 19 of the South Korean hostages in one designated place, as opposed to being detained in different locations. The Taliban, meanwhile, demanded that South Korean forces remove themselves from Afghanistan and also that the Afghani government release all Taliban prisoners.

On July 19, 2007, the Taliban took 23 South Korean Christian aid workers from the Sammeul Community Church hostage in Afghanistan. Members of the Taliban hijacked the aid workers’ bus on a road south of Kabul. They kept the hostages all together in a cellar. Later they moved the hostages to a farmhouse, and six days later, they separated the hostages into groups of 3 and 4 people. Overall, they moved the hostages 12 times, either via motorbike or on foot.

On July 25, 2007, the Taliban executed one of the hostages: South Korean pastor Bae Hyeong-gyu, the leader of the group. On July 30, after negotiations with the Korean and Afghani governments did not work, the Taliban killed another hostage named Shim Seong-min.

In mid-August, the Taliban actually released two female hostages, an action they called a “goodwill gesture”. But the hostages were not satisfied. On August 19, 2007, three of the hostages (one man and two women) began a hunger strike. Their goal was to force the Taliban to bring together all of the hostages into one group. At the time, they were separated into as many as 5 groups and kept in various locations in the Ghazni province in Central Afghanistan.

The Taliban never united the hostages but did in fact release them on August 29, 2007, after successful negotiations between the South Korean government and the Taliban. South Korea agreed to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan as well as agreeing to discontinue sending missionary trips to Afghanistan. With the end of the hostage crisis, the three hunger strikers ended their campaign. They were relatively unsuccessful in their campaign because they could not unite the hostages during the ten days they were under Taliban control (from the start of the hunger strike to the end of the hostage crisis).

Research Notes
"Three South Korean Hostages in Afghanistan on Hunger Strike: Report." Deutsche Press-Agentur 20 Aug. 2007. Access World News. Web. 24 Apr. 2011.

"Several Hostages in Afghanistan Go on Hunger Strike: Source." YONHAP NEWS. 20 Aug. 2007. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <>.

Veale, Jennifer. "Korean Missionaries Under Fire." TIME 27 July 2007. TIME. 27 July 2007. Web. 24 Apr. 2011.

CBC News. South Korean Hostage Apologizes for Being Captured. CBC. 31 Aug. 2007. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <>.

"SKorea Seeks US Help over Afghanistan Hostages." Agence France-Presse 2 Aug. 2007. Access World News. Web. 24 Apr. 2011.

"BBC News - South Korea Confirms New Troops for Afghanistan." BBC News - Home. 8 Dec. 2009. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <>.

Azimy, Yousuf. "Taliban Release 12 Korean Hostages | Reuters." Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News | Reuters, 29 Aug. 2007. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <>.

Additional Notes: 
When questioned about the hunger strike, the Taliban denied its hostages had launched a hunger strike campaign.

After the end of the hostage crisis, there was a considerable amount of backlash against the Korean missionaries for putting their country and government in a "bad position".

The U.S. gave support to the South Korean government during the hostage crisis.

Most information in the press and various journals covers the full hostage situation and focuses very little on the hunger strike. Yonhap (from South Korea) was the press that originally reported on the hunger strike. There are many gaps, however, in the actual campaign unable to be filled by public releases.

Throughout the campaign, the South Korean government greatly increased their "face to face meetings" with the Taliban.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Samantha Bennett, 24/04/2011