Report: ISIS Takes North Korean Couple Hostage in Libya

ISIS Libya
A damaged container is seen after a suicide car bomber blew himself at a checkpoint near Misrata, Libya May 21, 2015. The attack was claimed by Islamic State. Reuters

A North Korean couple was abducted by members of the Islamic State in Libya, the Associated Press reported.

The couple, who have not been identified for their safety, were traveling from Zallah, Libya, to the city of Sirte when they were taken hostage. Both of them work as doctors for a local Zallah hospital and have for many years. It is unclear how they traveled from North Korea to Libya originally, as the hermit state is notoriously difficult to exit.

The presence of ISIS has increased in Libya over the past several months. The terrorist organizations killed 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya earlier this spring, broadcasting the murders with videos on social media. They have also taken oil workers hostage and overrun oil fields. The illegal sale of oil is a major profit stream for ISIS, though their director of this industry was recently killed in a raid by coalition forces.

The Islamic State has taken a variety of international hostages, including Americans, British, Frenchmen, Jordanians and two Japanese citizens. In the past, the group has demanded extremely high ransoms for these hostages or a prisoner exchange. In the cases of hostages from coalition nations, such as the United States, ISIS demanded a retreat in air strikes in exchange for the hostage's life.

As North Korea is not a member of the coalition nations battling ISIS, it is unclear how their hostages will fare. The international community does not advocate for paying ransoms, but it remains to be seen how North Korea will handle this situation. The kidnapping of these two North Koreans has not yet been reported by the state-controlled media inside the extremely isolated nation.