South Korean Foreign Ministry Accused of Lying About Libya Embassy Attack


The Korea Times reports on a controversy involving South Korea’s ambassador to Libya, a story which highlights the danger of operating in that war-torn country.

So dangerous are affairs in Libya that South Korea decided to let diplomats serve on a two-week rotation between the embassy in Tripoli and a fallback location in Tunisia. Last Sunday, the embassy in Tripoli came under attack from Islamist gunmen, killing two security guards and wounding a third. Evidently, these were locally-hired security personnel, as Korea Times reports no South Korean casualties from the incident. ISIS has claimed its operatives were behind the attack.

The Foreign Ministry told reporters that Ambassador Lee Jong-kook was “handling the aftermath of the incident in Tunis, the Tunisian capital,” but it was later discovered that Lee was actually in Seoul and has been there since early April, having completed his assignment to Libya. His replacement, Ambassador Kim Young-chae, arrived in Libya on Monday.

A senior official from the foreign ministry said it seemed his agency had “made a mistake, since we didn’t have a clear understanding of the situation,” denying allegations that the ministry was deliberately lying about the ambassador’s location.

Following the attack, South Korea decided to, at least temporarily, relocate its Tripoli embassy staff to Tunisia. They were one of the last countries to attempt maintaining an embassy in Libya.