The head of the state-run Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency’s (KOTRA) Libya unit has been kidnapped by four unidentified armed men, The Middle East in Europe and Korea media reported.

KOTRAlogoOfficials at KOTRA said Han Seok-woo, aged 39, has worked in Libya’s capital Tripoli since 2012 and was kidnapped on Sunday, 19 January 2014.

“We have yet to know the reason for the abduction,” said a Korean Foreign Ministry official. “The government will make utmost efforts for his safe release as soon as possible using all public and private channels.”

An estimated 551 Koreans are known to be resident in Libya, induced by persistent reports of new business opportunities opening in Libya since the NATO-led attack on Muammar Kadhafi’s administration in 2011 and its replacement by a West-backed administration dogged by divisions, economic disruption and security concerns.

Western governments fear a deepening instability in Libya, where the government has had difficulty containing heavily armed militias, tribesmen and Islamists, The New York Times said.

South Korean trade with Libya stands at around $1.8 billion, with automobiles making up more than half of South Korean exports. However, that figure relates to 2012, and there’s no telling if trade has picked up or suffered amid Libya’s downward security spiral since that time.

A South Korean employee of a military goods supplier was kidnapped and killed by gunmen in Iraq in 2004.