33 Korean Pilgrims Attacked in Egypt

On February 16, 33 South Korean tourists traveling by bus on the Sinai Peninsula were attacked in a suicide bombing. After three victims died, and at least 15 people were wounded, netizens showed frustration that missionaries continue to put themselves in harm’s way and force the government to take responsibility. Notable past incidents include the execution of Kim Sun-il in 2003 and the kidnapping of the Bundang Saemaul Church missionaries in 2007.

Pilgrimage Timeline:  (There is an alternate theory that the explosion was from a bomb planted on the bus. The pilgrims were scheduled to arrive in Israel on Feb 16 and come back to Korea on the 21st. )  -February 10th: 31 pilgrims from Jincheon Joongang church and a tour guide named Kim Jin-gyu leave Korea -11st~13rd: Visit in Turkey -(1) 14th At Cairo: The Korean guide joins the group as they move from Turkey to Egypt -(2) 15th At Suez: They tour the pyramids by bus and visited St. Catherine’s Monastery   -(3) 16th : In the morning, they climb Mt. Sinai and after lunch head to Taba in Sinai near the Israeli border (4) 16th, 2 p.m.: They arrive at Taba (5) 2:40 p.m.: The guide finishes arranging for the bus to cross the border, as he returns another man follows him onto the vehicle and explodes after taking three steps down the aisle.

Pilgrimage Timeline:
(There is an alternate theory that the explosion was from a bomb planted on the bus. The pilgrims were scheduled to arrive in Israel on Feb 16 and come back to Korea on the 21st. )
-February 10th: 31 pilgrims from Jincheon Joongang church and a tour guide named Kim Jin-gyu leave Korea
-11st~13rd: Visit in Turkey
-(1) 14th At Cairo: The Korean guide joins the group as they move from Turkey to Egypt
-(2) 15th At Suez: They tour the pyramids by bus and visited St. Catherine’s Monastery
-(3) 16th : In the morning, they climb Mt. Sinai and after lunch head to Taba in Sinai near the Israeli border
(4) 16th, 2 p.m.: They arrive at Taba
(5) 2:40 p.m.: The guide finishes arranging for the bus to cross the border, as he returns another man follows him onto the vehicle and explodes after taking three steps down the aisle.

Article from Kyunghyang Sinmun:

[Tourist Bus Explosion in Egypt] A Religious ‘Passion’ Led to ‘Forceful’ Missionary Work and Pilgrimage

(From Reporter Gu Jeong-Eun) The Sinai Peninsula, site of the attack on Korean pilgrims, is one of the most popular routes for the Egypt-Israel pilgrimage. It is not only a famous tourist attraction but also a popular place to visit because it was where Moses received the Ten Commandments. During the three years since the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, political instability in Egypt reduced tourism, but pilgrims from South Korean churches have continued to come to the Sinai.

Ever since the US declared a war on terror in 2001, some regions such as Afghanistan and Middle East have become unstable; the number of victims who were sacrificed by terrorists or kidnapped because of the absence of local security has increased substantially. Koreans are no exception from the violence. In addition to this Sinai terror attack, there have been many other cases. There was the case of Kim Sun-il, who was killed in Iraq, and the case of Bundang Saemaul Church missionaries who were kidnapped by terrorists in Afghanistan. There was also the KBS reporter detained temporarily when he was reporting in the Israel-Palestine region. Last month, a KOTRA official was kidnapped in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

The reality is that kidnapping or terror attacks frequently occur to those engaged in missionary work or on pilgrimage.

While the ratio of the Christian popluation in the US and Europe is much higher than that of Korean Christians, most of the terror attacks or kidnappings that occur to Western citizens happen to people engaged in humanitarian aid or journalism , while relatively few Western missionaries have been targeted. This is in direct contrast to the Korean case.

The most problematic issue is that most Korean tourists visited those regions without researching the local situation. The Sinai Peninsula is a desert, isolated without big cities. In Nam-sik, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy said “most residents of the Sinai are Bedouin, a nomadic people dispersed into separate tribal units, so it is hard to exert governmental power in this region.” He pointed out that “as political instability in Egypt has continued, the Sinai has been seen as a haven for militants.” It seemed that the visitors were not careful enough to consider the potential danger in advance. The Korean government has already designated the Sinai Peninsula to be a travel-restricted area, a non-binding measure, which is not the same as banning travel to the area.

Comments from Kyunghyang Sinmun:

JSGrave:

Religion is a mental disease.

sdkk5353:

They bragged to one another [the church and its members], bullshitting that they were going on a pilgrimage to a dangerous place, thanks to God’s blessing. This is the reality of Korean church. Why do you shift the responsibility to the governments and cry for help when you get in trouble? Many incidents like Bundang Saemaul Church missionaries and Kim Sun-il have occurred, but I don’t understand why only Korean churches continue to go to the dangerous places and get themselves into trouble. Don’t you think they keep doing it because the country and the officials are mobilized to solve their problems? The affiliated church groups should take responsibility.

윤원준:

Don’t you think that those who were killed while proselytizing were martyred and got blessing? I think the death should be celebrated because they went to be with God. [In a sarcastic tone]

as_jiya:

They cut their own throat! Please Christians! God himself cannot save your lives in danger. Instead, he gives us “rationality” to have rational thought. Please, don’t go where we shouldn’t go. The local election will soon be held, so the conservative regime can’t neglect the power of Christian voters and deal with their problems. Otherwise, you would’ve been bashed a lot.

Comments from Nate:

Tkdt****:

Because of you guys, I get horrified whenever I see the red glowing crosses at night.

korea-churches-neon-cross 서성철:

They got blamed even after they were attacked, ke ke ke.

Mord****:

I feel pity that some were killed, others wounded. No more mockery, no more blame. Don’t travel to these places where you could be easily targeted for a terror attack. If you break the law by traveling to a restricted country, then you should be penalized.

Name****:

I believe God will revive you, Amen.

박지민:

That’s enough. Stop the blaming. Don’t you have even a modicum of respect for the dead?

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  • Ruaraidh

    Two destructive ideologies collide. Honestly whilst it’s a hideous act, is it any worse that the homophobic filth Christian missionaries have been pouring into the minds of Africa’s superstitious masses for decades? Innocent people will die either way. At least in this instance it didn’t happen to people who went out there to do some genuine good.

  • commander

    Going on a pilgrimage has no problem.

    For religious people, it may be a great opportunity to deepen their religilous conviction.

    The real problem lies here: Why the majority of Koreans hurled sneer and jeer at those who died and wounded in a car blast detonated by a terrorist
    group instead of expressing condolescence to the deceased?

    The mockery hightlights the public ‘s critical perception of Protestantism in South Korea. In the eyes of many Jones and Janes, Protestant churches are associated with anything but religious belief.

    The sarcastic view of the dead and wonded in the car explosion should serve as an occasion for soul searching of Protestant churches in the nation.

    • Chucky3176

      Because they brought it onto themselves. They were warned many times before yet they keep doing it. People are frustrated at these stubborn religious fanatics who put their nation on the spot and expecting the country to bail them out. Perfect example is Kenneth Bae and Robert Park going to North Korea to get captured. Although they’re Americans they still have the same Korean Christian mindset.

      • commander

        Actually, I dont want to blame Christian missionaries on their zeal for proselytization in a foreign country as long as they are ready to take on whatever outcome their treacherous visit to what they see as a holy site may cause.

        Some commentators rightly point out the deaths and injuries in a terrorist attack is tragic. But they should not shift the blame of the mayhem onto the government.

        Great freedom comes with great responsibility, as we all know.

        As I said above, some Protestant churches and venal minister have planted a seed of distruct of protestantism in people’s minds.

        Even if the victims are really devout and have respectable religious faith and lead a life by Christian teachings, they may feel regretful for a cacade of criticism of what detractors of Protestant churches in Korea as frivolous visit to a nation gripped by political unrest.

        But the negative public sentiment over the ill-fated trip illuminates a long way Protestant churches in general should go to regain public trust.

        • shato

          The fuck are you talking about?

        • linette lee

          They go there knowing it is a war zone over there, then they should have the mindset to get ready to die or be kidnapped if something happens. They shouldn’t expect other people like the soldiers of their own country to be in harm’s way trying to save them. The South Korea gov’t should just long distance call and speak to the Egypt gov’t. Get words of condolence. Make some speeches on Korea TV, then case closed.

          • Guy Forget

            Oh don’t BS us with this crap. First off it’s NOT a warzone. You can’t just say going anywhere in the Middle East is a warzone. Second, it’s not Korea’s fault or the Christians fault. That’s like blaming the victim of a rape case for causing the rape. It doesn’t matter if you wore sexy clothes and teased some men, that doesn’t make it legal and right to get raped for acting like a slut. These Koreans were just vacationing together and this happens because of Islamic radicalism. This is worse than racism. Killing koreans because they are koreans and christians? Double WHAMMY. So don’t be telling anyone how racist or xenophobic Korea is when it’s the muslims that are killing and bombing people to death. But yeah, nobody should be going to those parts of the world anyways and I’d certainly have nothing against KEEPING THOSE PEOPLE out of Korea too. I’m more than happy with that trade.

  • Mighty曹

    Any Christians going to a muslim country on a ‘pilgrimage’ is just asking to be attacked.

    “While the ratio of the Christian popluation in the US and Europe is much higher than that of Korean Christians, most of the terror attacks or kidnappings that occur to Western citizens happen to people engaged in humanitarian aid or journalism , while relatively few Western missionaries have been targeted. This is in direct contrast to the Korean case.” That’s the reason for the contrast. I don’t hear of any Westerners going to any muslim countries on a Christian pilgrimage.

    • Zappa Frank

      Considering the actual situation to go now in Egypt is not wise, even less for a pilgrimage… maybe Koreans were unaware of what is going on in Egypt.
      However Sinai has never been really “safe” except for the most touristic part around Sharm El Sheikh (also thanks to many soldiers there)…
      You can go on pilgrimage in some muslim countries, especially in the middle-east, and in many of them there are even Christian communities, (Egypt has even a Christian community, Coptic orthodox Christians) , but be aware of the political situation before to go there..

      • Mighty曹

        Yes, there are Christian communities that enjoy relative peace in regions like Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE, etc. but in volatile parts they are constantly attacked. It does help to be aware of the situation before they set out there.

      • d-_-b

        Nope they were very aware of the situation. The Korean government did warn them not to visit the country.

      • Sillian

        Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a warning for visiting Egypt a while ago. I don’t know how proactively they tried to discourage people from visiting there.

        http://www.0404.go.kr/country/notice/view.do?menuNo=2010200&mst_id=MST0000000000040&id=ATC0000000001130

    • tomoe723

      because people know that real Catholic missionaries aren’t there to go preaching and recruiting.. the actions and deeds they show is very selfless and work to provide better harmony and service to the people albeit in the name of their “God” but if it’s inherently good, even Muslims acknowledge it. It’s very different from these so-called Christian pilgrimages where there is lavish material wealth when going on these pilgrimages like air-conditioned buses, fancy clothing, shades, sun glasses, ipods, etc… it’s hypocritical pilgrimage..

      • Mighty曹

        I see very distinct purpose of visits:
        1) Business
        2 Tourist
        3) Humanitarian
        4) Missionary

        You would imagine that being on a humanitarian cause somehow wins some favor with the locals. The terrorists couldn’t care less. They will abduct anyone whom they think has value to them.

        So….. when a busload of Christians who were doing ‘non of above’ other than being there on a ‘pilgrimage’ was not just an invitation but somehow thumbing their noses at the muslims.

  • commander

    A flurry of criticism came to a church to which the victim believers belong when a church vice minister said that the government should have restricted Koreans from visiting Egypt because they knew the country is dangerous for travellers while calling for Korea’s foriegn affairs ministry to help arrange to book the ticket for flight back home for the victims.

    His comment drew a lot of flak, with many Netizens mocking his ignorance of the fact that Egypt, along with Middle Eastern countries, is labeled as travel restricted or travel alert.

    One Netizen wrote, “If those churchgoers get restricted from visiting Egypt, they would definitely make a fuss, claiming the government is now restraining the freedom of faith. Now what you have got is what you asked for yourself.”

  • FYIADragoon

    The Korean government shouldn’t have to take the heat for what a couple of idiots do. That’s as annoying as when the US was under pressure to save those two idiot journalists that got abducted by North Korea.

  • Truck Furniture Maker

    I like how people blame the people getting murdered rather than the murderers. I am not Christian, never have been, and will never want to be. However, I find murderers worse than people who want to visit historical sites (for whatever reason). Maybe that’s just me.

    • Sillian

      Because it has no practical value to blame the terrorists. Everyone knows they are evil and everyone knows they won’t suddenly disappear. The best measure is to strongly warn people not to go to such dangerous places in the first place.

      • Boris_Da_Bengal_Tiger

        Then the terrorists win by taking away our freedom.

        • Sillian

          Universal complete freedom is impossible anyway.

          You don’t fight terrorists by letting civilians be meat shields in unsecured areas.

          • Boris_Da_Bengal_Tiger

            I was being sarcastic.

            I do agree about universal complete freedom being impossible.

          • Truck Furniture Maker

            I just want to point out again I will focus my anger at murderers rather than people who choose to go to these sites (regardless if it is a bad or dumb decision).

          • Boris_Da_Bengal_Tiger

            Attacks on civilians and innocents should always be condemned, no matter by who.

        • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

          The only thing they win out of this struggle is freedom to kill each other. Right now they kill outsiders because they are outsiders. No outsiders they’ll turn on each other.

          Some victory…

          • Boris_Da_Bengal_Tiger

            I was being sarcastic.

            And by the way, they are already killing each other there. The political situation doesn’t help either.

        • tomoe723

          but this is like being warned not to walk down a dark alley for risk of being mugged.. still, they went on that pilgrimage..

      • MyMotto

        omg @ sillian thank you. Everyone wants to blame the terrorist when we already know it’s their fault. All that’s really left is prevention…they got told what would happen and they didn’t listen. They may not have deserved it, but it happened because they didn’t listen.

    • Torgrim

      They are visiting a religious site, not a historical site. The concept is to understand phenomenon from the perspective of those involved, without your own bias. To you it is a historic site, but to them it is a religious site (this would be the “whatever reason” and the point of your confusion). Confusing the two makes you sound silly and dogmatic (as dogmatic as some religious believers).

    • WonBinゲキカラ

      The Christians in Korea are crazy.

  • chris

    its funny because the Christians were probably doing it to deepen their relationship with the same GOD that the Muslims were servicing to by killing them.

  • MeCampbell30

    Bring on the Yuna Kim stories!

  • vonskippy

    Big surprise, you visit those shithole countries and then act all surprised when shit happens. What did you expect? It’s been proven time after time after time that these places aren’t civilized – so stay the fuck away.

    • WonBinゲキカラ

      And it’s not the best time to be traveling to these types of places. It’s not safe at all.

  • YourSupremeCommander

    Religious nuts are nuts…. on both sides.

  • Dave Park

    It doesn’t matter that you’re doing God’s work or not. God will not protect you from the reality that is of this world. Make rational judgments.

  • YourSupremeCommander

    If God had created everything, why doesn’t he/she/it create peace amongst all people?
    ……………………….. ahhhh, see, made you think didn’t I?

    • Mighty曹

      It’s God’s way of testing human’s belief and devotion. Ahh……..

      • YourSupremeCommander

        Sure, its the same way God made me an average Joe, so that I can go thru the motions to become a billionaire.

  • KCdude

    Thank goodness that I’m an Anglican. We mostly go to English churches for pilgrimage.

  • Guy Forget

    why are ppl blaming christians and korea?? How is it their fault for being murdered??? Are you people so stupid? They didn’t even prosyletize. They were just touring the countries and going on tour guides and then some crazy ass muslim scumbag decides to walk on the bus and blow it up?? Where are all the muslims here to condemn this act? I hate how muslims say that christians cannot prosyletize or set up churches in muslim countries….but then they want to come and set up more mosques and dawah’s in korea and they protest and called korea racist if korea doesn’t give into muslim demands? At least christians dont go bombing and killing muslims when they are out and about in korea or other lands. For the life me, I don’t know why Korea is allowing more muslims to establish schools and colleges and mosques in korea. Just look at the UK, and many other european countries. They are constantly under threat now by muslim uprisng and threats of islamic takeover but of course the media never shows this. Just go look it up on google or youtube and you’ll see outrageous things muslims are doing….they outwardly said it is there intention to convert Europe into an islamic state by end of the century and the current 50 million muslims in europe will overtake europe via muslims exponential growth rate and europeans declining population the takeover will be natural and automatic. They said this not me. Look it up ignorant people!

  • Guy Forget

    So if a person is visiting L.A. and accidentally walk through a CRIPS / BLOODS neighborhood and gets shot and killed, does that make it OK that the criminals did that because the fault was on the innocent person who had no idea and should have known better not to walk there? What sort of lunacy reasoning are you using here? Stop putting ANY blame on the koreans and christians. In the end, it’s not their fault. Try opening your eyes and realize that a crazy ass religion is responsible for this and nobody else. When you can show me when a bus full of muslims in Seoul gets bombed by Korean Christians, plz tell me and then I’ll admit I was wrong and bow down to you in shame and ignorance. But until that happens, don’t dare say that Christians are just as lunatic too and fudge over this latest bombing as “meh”. Muslims are the only ones killing in this debate.

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