Sydney siege: Student, one of first hostages to flee from Lindt cafe, becomes face of siege

Ms Bae's fellow worker Elly Chen runs towards police from Sydney's Lindt cafe on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Ms Bae's fellow worker Elly Chen runs towards police from Sydney's Lindt cafe on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Student and barista Bae Ji Eun dashing into the arms of a police officer outside Lindt cafe, where other hostages are being held, in Martin Place in central Sydney on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Student and barista Bae Ji Eun dashing into the arms of a police officer outside Lindt cafe, where other hostages are being held, in Martin Place in central Sydney on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Student and barista Bae Ji Eun dashing into the arms of a police officer outside Lindt cafe, where other hostages are being held, in Martin Place in central Sydney on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Student and barista Bae Ji Eun dashing into the arms of a police officer outside Lindt cafe, where other hostages are being held, in Martin Place in central Sydney on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Her face twisted in terror, student and barista Bae Ji Eun dashed into the arms of a heavily-armed policeman.

The 20-year-old, one of the hostages held at the Lindt cafe in Sydney, was among the first hostages to escape from the place at 5pm on Monday, with fellow cafe worker Elly Chen.

The photo and video of that moment, captured and replayed on TV news and media around the world, has become one of the defining images of the Sydney siege.

Ms Bae reported for work at the Lindt Cafe at Martin Place at 9am on Monday, said British paper Daily Mail. About 45 minutes later, gunman Man Haron Monis walked in and took her and 16 others hostage.

Ethnically Korean, Ms Bae is described as a "sweet" girl who is active in her church in north-west Sydney.

She was waiting to be re-united with her family after spending a day with the police, the Mail said. She is unhurt and is understood to have received counselling.

The siege ended at 2.15am on Tuesday, with two hostages shot dead by Monis, who was also killed when police stormed the cafe. According to reports, cafe manager Toris Johnson died in an attempt to wrestle Monis' gun from him. Lawyer and mother-of-three Katrina Dawson was shot while trying to shield her pregnant colleague.

Ms Bae told Australian broadcaster SBS that she thought she "would die in there" and she "can't believe what happened to (her boss) Tori".

chuimin@sph.com.sg