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19 South Koreans held captive in Myanmar rescued: Seoul

Nineteen South Koreans, held captive in Myanmar near the Thai border by an “illegal company,” were successfully rescued. The operation followed a special travel advisory due to concerns about Koreans coerced into criminal activities in the Golden Triangle region.

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Nineteen South Koreans who were held captive in Myanmar have been rescued, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Tuesday, with a source from Myanmar’s main airport confirming the victims were flying home.

South Korea has been working on its citizens’ release since being notified in early October that they had been detained by an unknown “illegal company” in Tachileik, which is situated in Myanmar’s Shan state near the border with Thailand.

Tachileik is located in the infamous “Golden Triangle” region that covers parts of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

Criminal organisations thrive in the often lawless region, engaging in activities including drug and human trafficking, online fraud and voice phishing.

South Korean authorities did not disclose any specific information regarding the “illegal” entity responsible for detaining the Koreans, nor on the individuals held captive.

Following a request from Seoul, Myanmar authorities raided the company in late October and rescued the Koreans, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.

“All 19 South Korean citizens were safely moved to Yangon on Monday (13 November) by Myanmar police,” the ministry said in a statement.

A source from Myanmar’s main airport in Yangon told AFP Tuesday that the Koreans “left this morning from Yangon on a direct flight to Incheon airport” in South Korea.

Seoul’s foreign ministry in August issued a special travel advisory for the Golden Triangle region in northern Laos.

The ministry said the decision was due to incidents where Korean nationals, visiting for employment purposes, were coerced into engaging in criminal activities such as voice phishing.

These individuals even faced threats to their safety, it said at the time.

— AFP

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