Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two US journalists who were captured, put on trial and convicted of trespassing and “hostile acts” by the government of North Korea, have written part of their story — a lot is still too traumatic to tell. The article appeared last night on both the LA Times (interestingly, as an “Opinion” piece) and on the website of their employer, Current TV.
The point of the public writing is to re-focus the narrative from their experience being captured (though they cover that as well) but on the story they were chasing in the first place when they were captured: The desperate plight of refugees escaping North Korea into China.
We had traveled to the area to document a grim story of human trafficking for Current TV. During the previous week, we had met and interviewed several North Korean defectors, women who had fled poverty and repression in their homeland, only to find themselves living in a bleak limbo in China. Some had, out of desperation, found work in the online sex industry; others had been forced into arranged marriages. Now our guide, a Korean Chinese man who often worked for foreign journalists, had brought us to the Tumen River to document a well-used trafficking route and chronicle how the smuggling operations worked.
Their investigation took them into North Korea, but only for a very short time — less than a minute, they say — but the consequences were dire, and they wonder if they’d been set up by an informant. Continue reading