South Korean hostages apologize for causing trouble

After their release from six weeks of captivity in Afghanistan South Koreans spoke about their ordeal, described how they’d been kidnapped and apologized for causing trouble.

"While kidnapped, all I could think about was staying alive," Suh Myung-hwa said in an interview shown on South Korean television Friday. "I didn't feel any pain under captivity, I guess because I was in a panic the whole time, but now that the tension is gone my body aches all over," she said.

Suh, 29, and Yoo Kyung-sik, 55, were among 19 South Korean church workers who had been held by the Taliban since July 19. The hostages were released in stages on Wednesday and Thursday after the Seoul government struck a deal with their captors.

The Taliban originally seized 23 South Koreans, but killed two and released two others earlier this month.

Suh and Yoo spoke to South Korean media in an interview in their hotel in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Other foreign media were barred from entering the hotel by guards posted at the door.

The group left for Afghanistan after ignoring warnings by their government against travel to the country. The government has been under intense pressure to bring them home safely and has faced criticism for negotiating with the captors.

"I can't sleep due to concerns that we caused so much trouble," Yoo said in the interview, according to Yonhap news agency. "I feel very sorry."

Suh said, "We caused so much anxiety to the people and our government was hit hard. I feel both sorry and grateful to the people."

Yonhap said the former hostages were reunited in the hotel earlier on Friday morning. They hugged each other, but some fell to the ground in shock when they were told that two members of their group had been killed.

They were kept in small groups in different locations during their ordeal.

Yoo said the group were traveling on a chartered bus in southern Afghanistan when two local men got on board with the permission of the driver, who said they were not dangerous. Half an hour later, the men fired shots and stopped the bus, Yoo said.

Yoo also said he and fellow hostages were first kept in a cellar. Later they were moved into a farmhouse. Six days later, they were separated into groups of three or four and kept on the move.

He said his group was moved 12 times, usually on motorbikes or on foot.

The Taliban claimed the South Koreans were missionaries - a charge denied by the government in Seoul and the hostages' relatives, who claimed they were doing aid work such as helping in hospitals.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova