S. Korean Is Beheaded in Iraq
In a news briefing early Wednesday, Shin told reporters that "our government's basic spirit and position has not changed. We confirm that again, because our troop deployment is for reconstruction and humanitarian aid support for Iraq."
But Kim's death appeared almost certain to broaden opposition in South Korea to the country's already unpopular involvement in Iraq. Public opinion polls show that more than 56 percent of the population opposes the troop deployment. More than a thousand South Koreans took to the streets for a second day on Tuesday, demanding a withdrawal from Iraq, while hundreds more took part in candlelight vigils for Kim.
Most South Koreans were asleep when Kim's death was reported at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Television networks quickly turned their attention to the lower-middle-class home in Pusan, South Korea's second-largest city, where Kim's parents collapsed in grief and tears, lying prostrate before a traditional death altar they had arranged with his photo.
"How could it have come to this?" a tearful neighbor shouted at reporters as she consoled Kim's parents. "How can we have faith in the world anymore?"
A distraught college friend of Kim's demanded that the government explain why it failed to do more to win his release.
"We longed for his safe return with the candlelight vigils, and people were desperately praying, all in vain," said Lee Sang Hoon, 27. "I just can't believe this has happened. Somebody has got to take responsibility for this."
In Iraq, where the U.S.-led occupation is scheduled to hand over political authority to an interim Iraqi government at the end of the month, the beheading of Kim again brought home the deadly nature of a months-long campaign by insurgents to kidnap foreigners.
In addition, foreigners and Iraqis have been targets of almost daily bombings and assassinations in recent weeks, which continued Tuesday in the northern city of Mosul with the killings of the dean of the college of law at Mosul University and her husband. Layla Abdulla Saeed and Moneer Yahya Ali Khairo were found dead outside their home, the U.S. military said.
Meanwhile, a U.S. military judge refused to grant a new preliminary hearing for a soldier accused of abusing detainees at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad but said he would allow defense attorneys to interview the top U.S. military commanders in Iraq about the scandal as the soldier's trial moved forward.
The rulings in the case against Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II were identical to the ones the judge, Col. James Pohl, made the day before in pretrial proceedings for two other soldiers charged with abuse.
Seven soldiers from the 372nd Military Police Company, based in Cresaptown, Md., have been charged with beating and humiliating detainees in U.S. custody at the prison.
Pohl had rescheduled Frederick's pretrial hearing for the end of next month after his civilian defense attorney failed to appear in court in Baghdad on Monday. But Frederick waived his right to have his civilian attorney present, and the judge took up the matter on Tuesday with Frederick and his military attorney, Capt. Robert Shuck.
Faiola reported from Seoul. Special correspondents Johee Cho in Seoul and Huda Ahmed Lazim in Baghdad contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company