Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Journalists Tell of North Korean Capture

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 2, 2009 at 6:49 AM

Bay Area journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee of San Francisco-based Current TV say they almost ended up in a communist prison camp for stepping on North Korean soil for "not more than a minute." In their first account of what became an international incident, the two expressed regret for following their guide across a frozen river that separates North Korea and China. They said the guide had acted strangely and they wonder whether they had walked into a trap.

After their short stint inside the North Korean border, they walked back to Chinese soil but were chased by North Korean soldiers who captured them in China and dragged them back to North Korea. Their guide and their producer were able to outrun the North Koreans. After being captured, Ling and Lee were tried and sentenced to twelve years of hard labor before being rescued by former President Bill Clinton during a diplomatic mission.

Ling and Lee were working on a story about North Korean women who defect to China and then are forced into prostitution. The women said that after they were captured, they ate their notes and purposely damaged their videotapes to protect their sources' identities. But they acknowledged that their capture prompted the North Koreans to launch a crackdown that has made things worse for the people they were reporting about.

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