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    No word on Korean

    Happily, still no word that the organisms that kidnapped Sun-il Kim in Iraq have beheaded him, at least on any of the sites I read. I’m not much more hopeful than others that he’ll be released. Still, in the last few months, some hostages have been, including two Japanese and all but one of the Italians. CNN’s newest posting on the abduction features a picture of protesters agitating for South Korea to pull its soldiers out and says,

    Overnight, hundreds of South Koreans gathered in central Seoul on to condemn the dispatch of South Korean troops to Iraq, but the government is so far not backing away from its decision.

    Hundreds? In a city of 12 million that’s the capital of a country of almost 50 million? That isn’t very many. I think I’ve shared a single Seoul subway car with hundreds of people at one time or another. It’s hard to tell what the mood of the public is, of course, especially since I don’t live there. On the other hand, unlike the Japanese, the Koreans do not hesitate to pour into the streets when they’re angered by the latest corruption scandal or evidence of fiscal mismanagement. (This is Asia, so there’s always some such thing to get het up over.)

    The real shame–besides, that is, the outrageousness of having thugs from willfully backward loser societies strike poses of superiority over a country that used grit and industry to become the twelfth-largest economy in the world (and a free, safe democracy, despite the proximity of the most hostile neighbor imaginable) a mere half-century after it was humiliated by occupation and then ravaged by civil war…[deep breath]…besides that, the shame is that South Korea is one of the best sources of exactly the sort of engineering that a rebuilding country needs, and the government’s pulling its citizens out (while I sure as hell don’t blame it for doing so) means seeking other providers.

    Added at 1:38 a.m.: The Nikkei is reporting that the deadline for Korea to pull out its troops has been extended and that the same intermediary who helped secure the release of the Japanese hostages in April is working with the Korean embassy in Iraq and has had a face-to-face meeting with Kim. Maybe there’s hope after all.

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