Updated Aug.24,2007 09:27 KST

Selfless Hostage Identified
Lee Ji-young, 36, the Korean hostage in Afghanistan who volunteered to stay behind so another hostage could be freed in her stead. Kim Kyung-ja, 37, and Kim Ji-na, 32, were freed.
The Korean hostage in Afghanistan who volunteered to be left behind so that another hostage could be freed in her stead has been identified as Lee Ji-young (36). Taliban kidnappers at first decided to release Lee when they freed two women earlier this month.

Kim Kyung-ja (37) and Kim Ji-na (32), the two hostages who were freed, revealed the name of the third woman in an interview with Arab news channel Al Jazeera from the military hospital in Seongnam City in the south of Seoul, where they are recovering, Yonhap reported. Cha Sung-min, a leading representative of the hostages’ families, said it was the families who asked for an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera said Lee Ji-young showed “an astonishing spirit of sacrifice” to give another hostage a chance of freedom. The network quoted the two freed women as saying Lee volunteered to stay behind because she has more experience living in Afghanistan.

Lee had worked as a translator and guide for other Korean volunteers in Afghanistan. “We were very worried when we heard that Ji-young volunteered to be left behind,” Kim Ji-na told Al Jazeera. “But the Taliban allowed Ji-young to write a letter to her family which consoled her and gave her some hope that she would come home soon.”

Lee’s family has now made the letter public. “I am doing fine, so don’t worry about me,” she writes. “Please don’t get sick and be in peace.” The two freed women pleaded with the Taliban to let Lee Ji-young, who was left alone when the two were released, join the remaining 18 hostages.

(englishnews@chosun.com )