They’re all in good health, although the three women who were first to be released seemed curiously intent about covering their faces with their makeshift hijabs while being driven away. I wonder if the Taliban warned them to keep covered up in true Islamic style lest harm befall the hostages still in captivity, or if they were just crying and embarrassed about it because of some Korean cultural standard.

The handovers seem to have been uneventful, although the jihadis made them work for it:

The Taliban required [hostage liaison Haji Zaher] to follow elaborate rules during the handover, he said. For each release, Mr. Zaher drove five to 10 minutes outside the city in International Committee of the Red Cross vehicles. Then, he was required to walk one to two hours into remote areas controlled by the Taliban. There, Taliban officials handed the hostages over to him.

Mr. Zaher said he and the hostages then walked one to two hours back to the International Committee of the Red Cross vehicles. Even if roads to the remote areas existed, he said, the Taliban insisted that he walk to and from the meeting points.

No further hostages releases were expected today, according to Mr. Zaher.

The rest will be freed in the next few days if all goes to plan. Meanwhile, in Korea, the victims blame themselves:

Later, the outpouring of emotion and relief suddenly dissipated as many of the hostages’ relatives appeared at a nationally televised news conference. They stood stoically in what appeared to be a show of collective remorse, and their spokesman apologized for a 41-day-long hostage drama that they acknowledged had upset the people and government of South Korea.

“We are very sorry to cause the nation so much concern and worry,” said Cha Sung Min, whose 32-year-old sister, Cha Hye Jin, was one of the hostages.

Afghanistan’s minister of commerce and a terrorism expert from Dubai interviewed by the AP agree: it’s a big win for savagery.

Update: An even bigger win than thought, in fact:

South Korea plans to speed up its preparation for the pullout of more than 200 soldiers in Afghanistan after a deal with the Taliban on the release of 19 Korean hostages, officials here said Wednesday…

The JCS official, asking not to be named, said the military will draw up a detailed strategy for the move of manpower and equipment in cooperation with the U.S.-led coalition forces.

He hinted at a speedy process, saying it would not take a long time as the small contingent of troops carry a minimum of self-defense weapons and much of their construction equipment has been leased in Afghanistan.

Defense sources also said the government will seek to complete the pullout as early as possible to show its will to implement the deal with the Taliban.

Update: 12 safe, seven still to go.

Tags: terrorism