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Gana President Kim Chun-ho Returns Home

Posted June. 30, 2004 22:15,   


As Kim Chun-ho, president of Gana General Trading, who holds the key to the suspicion surrounding Kim Sun-il’s death, returned home on June 30, there has been a strong interest in his revealing the “truth” about the kidnapping.

This is because he is the only person with knowledge of the whole affair from all four angles: The abduction organization, Gana president Kim, The Korean embassy in Iraq, and the U.S. military, for approximately 20 days starting from Kim’s abduction to his death.

As a result, it is expected that the actual conditions concerning the Korean embassy in Iraq, or the U.S. military’s prior knowledge, and concealment rumors that have been circulating in some areas, in addition to the characteristics of the murder organization and the negotiation process of Kim’s release, will be confirmed.

The first suspicion that Gana president Kim needs to explain is whether he “truly did not inform the Korean embassy of Mr. Kim’s abduction.” During the time of Kim’s abduction, although he visited the embassy on four occasions (June 1, 7, 10, 11), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced that he only discussed his business, and not any discussions concerning abduction.

June 1 is the next day after abduction, June 7 is the day he visited the police station and hospital to look for Kim’s whereabouts, and June 10-11 is the period of time he has claimed that he first became aware of Mr. Kim’s abduction. This part is difficult to understand sensibly because of how he could leisurely just talk about his business at the embassy during this time.

Other suspicions that need to be confirmed are why he engaged in the negotiation process of releasing Kim alone if he did, how he contacted the abduction organization and through whom, what were the required terms, and why the negotiations failed.

There even is an assemblyman of the Opposition party who suggests a view of close-adherence with the information personnel stationed in the Korean embassy on the grounds that Gana president Kim is acutely aware of local conditions.

Gana president Kim also holds the key to suspicions of the U.S. military’s prior knowledge. His reasons as to why he initially stated on June 21 that “4-5 days ago I was contacted by the U.S. military of the (abduction) notice,” but reversed his testimony by saying, “I tapped the possibility of Kim’s detainment to our client firm AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) on June 10,” when his statement created a stir, should be clearly explained.

Since AAFES is actually a U.S. military supply enterprise operated directly by the military, there is the possibility that the U.S. military might have known about the abduction. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs understands that the official of AAFES whom Gana president Kim contacted is a PX manager, and that the official is not directly connected to the official headquarters of the U.S. military.

In addition, there are views that Gana president Kim met with the Iraqi driver who was abducted together along with Mr. Kim but released around June 3, and that around that time he informed several Korean missionary organizations about the abduction.

Whether Gana president Kim was warned to a degree on the possibility of terror targeted against employees of Gana General Trading by the Korean embassy in Iraq can be a clue in revealing the embassy’s actual conditions of executing security countermeasures for Koreans living in Iraq.

Jong-Koo Yoon jkmas@donga.com