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S. Korean military played big part in evacuating Afghans Updated: 2021-08-26 17:28:49 KST

The South Korean military played a big part in successfully evacuating 378 Afghans from Taliban's control under the codename, "Operation Miracle."
For more on the stories behind the operation, we have our defense ministry correspondent Kim Ji-yeon live on the line for us.
Ji-yeon, isn't this the biggest military operation South Korea has conducted in safely airlifting people in a crisis zone?

Yes.
As the code name suggest, the South Korean military says it was practically a miracle that the operation of this scale involving hundreds of evacuees including women and children was successfully carried out amid other developed countries failing to do so.
Sixty-six military personnel including the country's Air Force has been dispatched.
A KC-330 multi-role aerial tanker and two Lockheed Martin C-130-J military transport aircrafts were involved in the operation.
The KC-330 tanker remained on standby in Islamabad, Pakistan while the C-130Js transported the Afghans out of Kabul to Islamabad to depart for Incheon.
Seoul's defense ministry said in a release Thursday the success of the operation was possible thanks to the cooperation from the U.S., which provided its military aircraft to transport South Korean embassy officials from Qatar to Kabul and promptly grant prior permission for South Korean military planes' take-off and landing at the crowded Kabul airport.
Also, a separate deal with the U.S. and the Taliban for Kabul airport entry enabled the South Korean military's safe access to move the Afghan evacuees via bus transport.
The ministry said attempts were made by those unidentified who tried to board the aerial tankers at Kabul but were swiftly identified and blocked by U.S. forces.

What were the main obstacles the South Korean military had to face during the operation?

According to a senior Seoul defense ministry official, in an interview with local radio station CBS earlier today the plans to evacuate the 400 or so Afghans were originally planned earlier this month involving commercial aircrafts before the U.S. troops withdrawal from Afghanistan.
But with the Taliban taking over Kabul in mid-August the ministry decided to involve military aircraft instead to prepare for contingencies.
The official said the hardest part was getting the hundreds of evacuees to gather in one spot since communication lines were poor and then arriving near the crowded Kabul airport amid checkpoints set up by the Taliban forces were nearly impossible.
At the first day of gathering, in fact only 26 people had successfully arrived for evacuation but luckily 300 more people managed to arrive at the extraction spot near Kabul airport the next day largely due to the emergency direct communication network shared by the evacuees.
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