Korean Evangelical Churches Under Cyber-Attack Amid Hostage Crisis

Evangelical churches in Korea are receiving criticism for sending missionaries to Afghanistan, following the recent kidnapping of 23 church volunteers.

In one of the world's most internet-savvy countries, "cybercitizens" have been building up anti-Christian sentiment by posting up insults to victims and their families on blogs and community forums.

Other more extreme and distasteful blogs have been used by some internet users to call for negotiators not to try and seek the hostages' release, while others have even called for the Korean Christians to be killed.

The Korean government and the hostages' families have appealed to the public not to promote anything that might aggravate the situation, according to the Korean publication Chosun. Despite their appeals, however, a number of internet users have published on web sites that the Koreans went to Afghanistan for missionary work, and not for volunteering, as has been stated.

Some have even tried to enflame the situation by saying the Korean missionaries carried out evangelism inside the Middle Eastern country's mosques.

One popular website, DC Inside, was used by some cybercitizens to boast they had emailed the Taliban calling for them to kill the hostages. The website has now attempted to filter out and remove these postings.

Chosun has also reported that the official websites of Saemmul Church in Bundang, the home church of the hostages, and Korea Foundation for World Aid have had to close after being inundated with attacks and insults for sending the Koreans to Afghanistan.

According to the latest update from The Associated Press, purported Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf claimed Wednesday that one of the hostages had been shot and killed around 4 p.m., and a police official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation said militants told him the hostage was sick and couldn't walk and was therefore shot.

Some of the 23 Korean hostages, meanwhile, had been freed and were taken to a U.S. base in Ghazni, said two Western officials who asked not to be identified, according to AP. Although the officials did not know how many had been freed, South Korean news agency Yonhap said eight Koreans had been freed.