On July 19, 2007, 23 South Korean missionaries were captured and held hostage by members of the Taliban. The incident happened while missionaries passing through Ghazni Province of Afghanistan. Two of the hostages were executed before the deal was reached between the Taliban and the South Korean government. The group, comprised of sixteen women and seven men, were captured while traveling from Kandahar to Kabul by bus on a mission sponsored by the Saemmul Presbyterian Church. The crisis happened when the driver allowed two local men to board. They started shooting to bring the bus to a halt. Over a month, the hostages were kept in cellars and farmhouses and they were moved in groups of three to four.
As South Korea was already scheduled to withdraw its 200 troops by the end of the year, the Taliban’s initial demand was only that they hold to this plan, but later also sought the release of 23 Taliban militants from prison. South Korean representatives in Washington DC requested a meeting with Afghanistan Kidnap / Ransom experts from SCG International Risk on August 1. SCG then began advising the South Koreans on ways to resolve the crisis.
The Taliban issued and extended several deadlines for the release of the prisoners, after which they threatened to begin murdering the hostages. Freedom for the militants was ruled out when it was apparent the Korean negotiators could not secure the release of Afghani prisoners, as Afghan president Hamid Karzai had previously faced criticism for freeing five rebel prisoners in exchange for an Italian hostage.
A Face-to-face meeting between the Taliban and South Korea began on August 10, resulting in the release of two female hostages, Kim Ji-na and Kim Gyeong-ja, on August 13. However, on August 18, a spokesman said that the talks had failed and the fates of the hostages were being considered.
Of the 23 hostages captured, Bae Hyeong-gyu and Shim Seong-min were killed on July 25 and July 30 respectively. As the negotiations progressed, two women Kim Gyeong-ja and Kim Ji-na, were released on August 13 and the The freedom of the remaining nineteen hostages (fourteen women and five men) was secured on August 28 with the participation of Indonesia as a neutral Muslim country. They were eventually released on August 29 and August 30. After the release, a Taliban official announced that South Korea had paid the Taliban more than US$20 million in ransom for the lives of the hostages. However, South Korea stated that they have made a promise with the Taliban that they would not make any statements about the ransom.