“Don’t go there,” says South Korea

CHUNG SUNG-JUN/Getty Images News Apparently, the South Korean government has finally had it with Christian missionaries causing trouble abroad. With 23 members of a Korean church group being used as bartering chips by the Taliban, the foreign ministry in Seoul has added Afghanistan to the short list of countries to which travel is now a ...

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600424_070724_korea_05.jpg

CHUNG SUNG-JUN/Getty Images News

Apparently, the South Korean government has finally had it with Christian missionaries causing trouble abroad. With 23 members of a Korean church group being used as bartering chips by the Taliban, the foreign ministry in Seoul has added Afghanistan to the short list of countries to which travel is now a criminal offense for South Koreans. The ban, which takes effect Tuesday, also applies to Iraq and Somalia.

I'm certainly inclined to agree with David that these people—whether or not they were on a mission to proselytize—made a foolish decision and put themselves in harm's way. Surely, the Korean foreign ministry would be well-advised to better educate their people about the dangers of the places on this list, and perhaps recommend some alternative destinations for determined evangelicals.

CHUNG SUNG-JUN/Getty Images News

Apparently, the South Korean government has finally had it with Christian missionaries causing trouble abroad. With 23 members of a Korean church group being used as bartering chips by the Taliban, the foreign ministry in Seoul has added Afghanistan to the short list of countries to which travel is now a criminal offense for South Koreans. The ban, which takes effect Tuesday, also applies to Iraq and Somalia.

I’m certainly inclined to agree with David that these people—whether or not they were on a mission to proselytize—made a foolish decision and put themselves in harm’s way. Surely, the Korean foreign ministry would be well-advised to better educate their people about the dangers of the places on this list, and perhaps recommend some alternative destinations for determined evangelicals.

But I’m not convinced that punishing travel to these countries is really the right course of action. Given that people have access to information about what they’re walking in to, restricting their liberty to make that decision has some unsavory qualities to it. Or maybe that’s just the young, freedom-loving American inside me talking. 

Sam duPont is a Master's candidate at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and focused his capstone research on transitional democracies and elections in fragile states.

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