Today's Top Five
1. Blaming the victim: South Korea's anti-missionary backlash
Bae Hyung-kyu, associate pastor and co-founder of suburban Seoul's Saemmul Presbyterian Church, was found shot to death with 10 bullet wounds in his head, chest, and stomach, reports the Associated Press. His killers say they belong to the Taliban in Afghanistan, where Bae had led a group of 23 church volunteers (18 of them women) on a medical aid trip. The group was abducted last week while traveling in Ghazni by minibus. An unnamed police official says Bae, who suffered from lung disease, was killed because he had become too sick to walk. It was his birthday.
Bae's death has escalated outrage in South Korea and around the world. But the outrage seems directed at least as much against South Korean Christian aid workers and missionaries as against the Taliban.
"Religious groups should realize once and for all that dangerous missionary and volunteer activities in Islamic countries including Afghanistan not only harm Korea's national objectives, but also put other Koreans under a tremendous amount of duress," the large-circulation Chosun Ilbo newspaper said in an editorial Monday, before Bae's death.
It reiterated its view in a Tuesday editorial: "Volunteer work is good. But in a multicultural and multi-religious age and especially in a place like Afghanistan, where there is a sharp hatred of Christianity, a deeper understanding of indigenous conditions must precede the dispatch of volunteer workers."
The Korea Times agrees. "Religious organizations are asked to refrain from engaging in excessive missionary activities in risky areas, which will cause anxiety for the people and the government as well," said an editorial Sunday.
"Some of the abductees' ...1