Published June 22, 2004
WASHINGTON – President Bush condemned the beheading of a South Korean hostage as "barbaric" Tuesday and said he remained confident that South Korea (search) would go ahead with plans to send thousands of troops to Iraq.
"The free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people," the president said.
Bush made his comments in an Oval Office photo shoot with Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy (search) of Hungary, a close ally in Iraq and the war on terror. Medgyessy said his country would not withdraw its troops from Iraq despite the recent killing of a Hungarian soldier there.
The hostage, Kim Sun-il (search), 33, worked for a South Korean company supplying the U.S. military in Iraq and was abducted last week, according to the South Korean government.
Kim's body was found by the U.S. military between Baghdad and Fallujah, 22 miles west of the capital, said South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil.
Bush spoke a short time after an Iraqi militant group apparently carried out its threat to behead the South Korean hostage.
The president said he had not yet spoken with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun (search), but was confident that the decapitation would not derail Seoul's plan to send 3,000 troops to Iraq.
The militants are "trying to shake our will and our confidence. They're trying to get us to withdraw from the world so they can impose their dark vision on people," Bush said. "The United States will not be intimidated by these people. ... I believe President Roh understands that."
Bush got an assurance from the Hungarian leader that his country's troops would stand firm in Iraq. "Our troops will not be removed before their term," Medgyessy said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said Kim was "an innocent man, there to help the people of Iraq, cut down by senseless barbarism."
He said the United States condemns such acts, offers condolences to the man's family and stands with the people of South Korea.
"I'm pleased that the South Korean government has been steadfast over the past several days and remains steadfast in the face of this kind of terrorism," Powell said.