On Saturday Jan. 15, Somali pirates hijacked The Samho Jewelery, a ship that is operated by the South Korean firm, Samho Shipping Company. On board were a crew of eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 Burmese.
According to the South Korean foreign ministry, the ship was carrying chemicals from the United Arab Emirates towards Sri Lanka before it was taken over.
Just last year, a South Korean supertanker was also hijacked by pirates. The South Korean government paid a $9.5 million ransom in return for the release of the hostages.
To prevent this from happening again, the South Korean navy operated a rescue mission. A day after the ship was taken hostage, a 4,500 ton Navy Destroyer Choi Young with an elite crew of Navy Seals was dispatched to the area. When the pirates were busy being distracted by a Mongolian vessel, the Navy Seals secretly attacked and were able to save the hijacked crew. Eight pirates were killed and five were captured.
South Korea is currently discussing with other African countries about what to do with the five pirates.
“We will not tolerate any behavior that threatens the lives and safety of our people in the future,” said the South Korean Lee Myung-Bak President in an address to the nation, clearly a warning to those who see South Korea as a soft touch.
A pirate who identified himself as Mohamed told reporters via phone that, “We [the pirates] shall never take a ransom from Korean ships, we shall burn them and kill their crew. We shall redouble our efforts. Korea has put itself in trouble by killing my colleagues.”
According to reports, there are now 28 vessels and 672 hostages being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia.