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Third beheading was south korean who spoke arabic

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Slain South Korean Spoke Arabic, Was Devout Christian
Tue Jun 22, 2004 03:59 PM ET

By Martin Nesirky
SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) - On Monday, Kim Sun-il stood gesticulating as he shouted desperately at the camera, "I don't want to die."

On Wednesday, the Arabic interpreter and devout Christian who dreamed of missionary work in the Arab world knelt silently and impassively before his Muslim militant captors beheaded him.

The scenes from videotapes aired on Arabic television station Al Jazeera were broadcast repeatedly on South Korean television, sending a chill through many people who already had reservations about the government's plan to send troops to Iraq.

The militants had demanded South Korea withdraw 670 military medics and engineers already in Iraq and drop plans to send 3,000 more troops to help rebuild the country.

South Korea rejected the demand and reiterated after news of Kim's death the deployment would go ahead.

The seventh of eight children, Kim had been working in Iraq as an interpreter for the past year. As a Christian, he mixed that work with evangelizing, media reports say.

"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 was born in September 1970 and graduated with a degree in Arabic from South Korea's top language school, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, in February 2003.

Kim first studied English at a college that is now Youngsan University, graduating with a diploma in 1992, officials say. He then majored in theology at Kyungsung University, again in his hometown of Pusan, earning a degree in February 1994.

"He is introverted, kindhearted and studies hard," his mother said on YTN television before his death was announced. She and her husband said their son "lived with no greed."


Kim, who was single, had planned to return to the southern port city of Pusan in July to celebrate his father's 70th birthday.

Kim was to have been ordained as a Christian minister and dreamed of being a missionary in the Arab world, media reports say.

He entered Iraq on June 15, 2003, said the South Korean Foreign Ministry, one of a handful of South Koreans doing business in a highly dangerous environment. Almost all plan to leave the country within days.

Kim worked for Gana General Trading, a company with 12 employees in Iraq to supply goods to the U.S. military.

He was kidnapped in Falluja last Thursday and his company's president initially sought to negotiate his release without involving the South Korean government, the ministry said.

It was not clear why Kim was in the Falluja area, which is a particularly high-risk region in a dangerous country. (Additional reporting by Kim Miyoung, Rhee So-eui, Park Sung-woo, Ryu Ji-young and Lee Jun-goo)

Copyright Reuters 2004.

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