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.
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:
Religion is a mental disease.
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.
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]
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:
Because of you guys, I get horrified whenever I see the red glowing crosses at night.
They got blamed even after they were attacked, ke ke ke.
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.
I believe God will revive you, Amen.
That’s enough. Stop the blaming. Don’t you have even a modicum of respect for the dead?