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19 S. Koreans held captive in Myanmar freed: ministry

Nov. 14, 2023 - 16:47 By Choi Si-young

A group of 19 South Koreans held captive by a criminal organization in Myanmar have been freed by local police, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry said it had sought to arrange their release after receiving a report early last month that they had been locked up in the border town of Tachileik by what it called an “illegal company.”

“We reached out to local police for their immediate release, and authorities raided the firm in late October,” the ministry said in a statement, noting the group was now in Yangon.

No details were disclosed about the kind of illegal activities the company was engaged in. The ministry said there was a rise in the number Korean citizens who were lured to the area with the promise of lucrative jobs, and then kidnapped and forced to engage in illegal activities such as phishing.

The ministry urged Korean nationals to take caution when traveling to the town bordering Thailand. It remains unclear at the moment whether police in Myanmar will take any action against the group.

A day earlier, the ministry said it would offer consular services to two Korean nationals sentenced to death for drug trafficking by a Vietnamese court. The two Koreans were among 18 defendants found guilty of drug offenses in a court ruling last week.

A senior ministry official said ministry assistance includes helping to find attorneys and enable family visits should Korean nationals stand trial in another country.