Korean ship captain kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf returns home

Park Chul Hong (centre), skipper of the South Korea-registered carrier DongBang Giant 2, is greeted by former Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan at Jolo airport in Sulu, southern Philippines on Jan 14, 2017.
Park Chul Hong (centre), skipper of the South Korea-registered carrier DongBang Giant 2, is greeted by former Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan at Jolo airport in Sulu, southern Philippines on Jan 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - A South Korean skipper who was held in captivity by the militant Abu Sayyaf group for nearly three months returned to Korea on Sunday (Jan 15), a day after his release from the southern Philippine island of Jolo.

Mr Park Chul Hong arrived at Incheon International Airport at around 4:30 am. "We understand that the captain's health is not bad, but he would be hospitalised for thorough medical check-up, said a foreign ministry official on condition of anonymity.

Mr Park and Filipino crew Glenn Alindajao were released on Saturday morning by the Abu Sayyaf, under an arrangement negotiated with the help of rebels belonging to the Moro National Liberation Front, a Philippine army spokesman said.

The two were then flown out of the island by a presidential adviser on peace efforts.  

Their cargo vessel, DongBang Giant 2, was sailing to Australia from South Korea when 10 Abu Sayyaf militants boarded it in October and abducted Park and Alindajao.  

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza told reporters the government had not paid a ransom, though some media reported that some sort of payment was believed to have been made.

The ship's owner negotiated with the terrorist group who allegedly threatened to kill the hostages unless it received the ransom.

The Korean Foreign Ministry also supported the release effort alongside its Filipino counterpart.

Abu Sayyaf is a terrorist group based in and around Jolo and Basilan islands in the southwestern part of the Philippines.

Since its inception in 1991, the group has carried out bombings and kidnappings in what they describe as their fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.

In 2004, the group bombed Superferry 14, one of the Philippines' deadliest terror attacks, which killed 116 people including children.

In November, a Korean man was found dead nine months after being kidnapped by the group.