Korean Teen May Have Joined ISIS

Being a business English teacher for adults in Seoul, I have asked a lot of my students about ISIS and their opinions or concerns about the group. In general, the students admitted that they had not been paying very close attention to their activities because it was only happening somewhere “very far away.” There was an overall doubt that any threat would come to Korea.

It seems however, that Koreans should be paying some more attention, as they may not be as immune as they think.


On January 12th a South Korean teenager named Kim went missing and was later discovered that he had most likely joined the terrorist group, ISIS. Kim had flown to Kilis and stayed at a hotel in an area where tourists are very hard to find. He had purposely found a location to take a 4-5 km illegal cab ride into Syria. Since then, there has been no news of his whereabouts.


Hotel where Kim stayed


Kim had told his parents that he was going to Turkey to meet with a pen pal named Hassan. After he was reported missing, the Turkish authorities found his computer and evidence that he may have joined ISIS. There was a desktop picture of ISIS members and their flag as well as a Twitter account under the user ID “sunni mujahideen.” (Mujahideen is said to be a common term for guerilla fighters). Tweets showing his interest in joining the group were also found.



Post from Kim’s Twitter


ISIS has actively been recruiting its members through various SNS and posting videos on Youtube. Authorities believe that if Kim did succeed in entering Syria and joining ISIS, he may be used as a vessel to target and lure in other youths in South Korea.


It hasn’t been confirmed that Kim’s intentions were to join ISIS, so all possibilities are being left open. He could also have been taken hostage and could later be used for blackmail.


The search is ongoing.

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