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Seoul defies Iraq hostage threat


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South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il is shown seated in front of his captors.
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(CNN) -- Seoul says it will go ahead with its plan to deploy thousands of troops to Iraq despite a televised threat from militants to behead a South Korean hostage.

In a video broadcast Sunday on Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera, the hostage -- identified by South Korean officials as Kim Sun-il -- cries in English, "Please get out of here. I don't want to die ... Your life is important, but my life is important."

Masked militants in the video threatened to behead Kim in 24 hours -- a deadline that has now expired -- unless South Korea quit the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

But after an emergency National Security Council meeting Monday, South Korea said it would go ahead with its planned troop dispatch despite the threat to kill Kim. (Full story)

Vice Foreign Minister Choi Young-jin told reporters the government would do its best to secure the release of Kim but would not back down from its military deployment.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry has dispatched a delegation to Jordan, a government spokesman said, but provided few details of Seoul's plans.

The South Korean government has set up an emergency task force to try to secure Kim's freedom, the spokesman said.

The spokesman added that the six-member delegation -- made up of two ranking foreign ministry officials, the defense minister and three other government representatives -- was being sent to Amman, regarding the hostage situation

The video showed Kim, 33, seated in front of three men whose faces were covered with scarves.

Two of the men held rifles; the third delivered an ultimatum to South Korea's government.

"We ask the government of South Korea and the people of Korea to pull their forces out of Iraq and not to send additional forces," the man said.

"Otherwise, we will send this hostage's head back to them and, God willing, we will kill more of your troops in Iraq. And you have 24 hours, starting tonight."

South Korea has about 600 troops in Iraq and on Friday announced plans to send another 3,000.

The deployment would make South Korea the third-largest contributor to the coalition in Iraq, after the United States and Britain. (Full story)

Al-Jazeera's editor in chief, Ahmed al-Sheikh, said the tape was left Sunday at the network's office in Baghdad and that he verified it was authentic before broadcasting segments of it. He did not broadcast the entire tape because some of it was repetitious, he said.

CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.


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