SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean teenager who disappeared near the Syrian border in Turkey last month has been found to be receiving training from the Islamic State (IS), South Korea’s spy agency said Tuesday.
The head of the National Intelligent Service (NIS), Byung-kee Lee reported during a closed-door parliamentary meeting that the 18-year-old, surnamed Kim, officially became the first Korean to join IS. Lee, however, added that his whereabouts are still unknown.
According to a senior official, although the spy agency sent a message to the Muslim militant group to let him return to his parents, the demand was rejected.
Read more: Missing South Korean teen expressed desire to join IS on social media
Police have concluded that Kim has not gone missing, but attempted to smuggle himself into Syria, based on the examination of his social media and computer records.
Kim’s mother told Yonhap News Agency that she has not heard from him since he left for Turkey in January. “I just hope that my son comes back home safely as soon as possible,” she said.
As more and more people started to follow his Twitter account after the news broke out, the South Korean government expressed worry about the possibility that young people might imitate Kim’s behavior. Fortunately, his Twitter account has been suspended since Feb. 4, but, at the same time, the deactivation could hamper the investigation of Kim’s recent and future situation.
Meanwhile, three missing British teenagers are also believed to be heading to Syria via Turkey, and one of the girls indicated her support for IS on her Twitter profile, as Kim did.
Foreign members who join IS will get training from the organization, including military exercises, Islamic doctrines and Arabic language class for more than one month.
Who is Kim?
The 18-year-old was a home-schooled student since he dropped out of middle school due to bullying. Kim was preparing for a qualification exam as a high school graduate when he disappeared with a man in a black car in Kilis near Syrian border with Turkey.
By EJ Monica Kim