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More Hostages Reportedly Held With South Korean In Iraq

21 June 2004 -- Militants in Iraq are reportedly holding about 10 foreigners, as well as the South Korean businessman they have threatened to behead.

Kim Chun-ho, the president of Gana General Trading, the South Korean hostage's employer, today told the South Korean news agency Yonhap that an Iraqi sent to Al-Fallujah to negotiate with the kidnappers had seen about 10 foreigners, including at least one European journalist.

South Korea has said it will go forward with its plans to send some 3,000 soldiers to Iraq, despite the threat to execute the South Korean businessman, Kim Sun-il.

Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Young-jin told reporters in Seoul on 21 June that the government will do its best to seek the release of Kim, aged 33.

Al-Jazeera television on 20 June aired a videotape in which Kim is seen pleading for his life. Three armed and masked kidnappers on the video threaten to behead him unless the South Korean government, within 24 hours, agrees to withdraw the 600 South Korean troops already in Iraq and reverse its decision to send some 3,000 more there.

The kidnappers identified themselves as belonging to an organization led by suspected Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Mu'sab al-Zarqawi.