Seoul – On Monday, hostage Kim Sun-Il stood gesticulating as he shouted desperately at the camera, “I don’t want to die”.
The scenes from video tapes aired on Arabic television station Al Jazeera were broadcast repeatedly on South Korean television.
The video showed a group of heavily armed gunmen, standing over a kneeling, blindfolded figure dressed in orange, saying they were about to carry out their threat.
“We warned you and you ignored the warning. Enough lies. Your army is not here for the sake of Iraqis but for the sake of cursed America,” one of the men said.
The footage sent a chill through many people who already had reservations about the government’s plan to send troops to Iraq.
The seventh of his father’s eight children, Kim had been working in Iraq as an interpreter for the past year. As a Christian, he mixed that work with evangelising, according to media reports.
“Don’t worry about me, mom. I feel comfortable,” Kim told his mother when she asked about the danger he faced in Iraq during their last telephone conversation in April.
Kim, who was single, had planned to return to South Korea next month to celebrate his father’s 70th birthday.
Theology was one of his university courses and he was to have been ordained as a Christian minister.