They were detained near the North Korea-China border in March. It's unclear if they strayed across or were grabbed by North Korean guards.Notice reporter Jeffrey Brown's wording: they were either kidnapped or mistakenly crossed the border. In other words, the possibility that they may have deliberately crossed the border (e.g., to get a journalistic scoop of sorts by showing how porous the border is where the refugees cross), is dismissed.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
PBS on Euna Lee and Laura Ling
PBS's "Newshour" invited former US ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg and Tufts law professor Sung-yoon Lee to discuss the sentencing of journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee to twelve years of labor by a Pyongyang court. The whole thing is worth listening to or reading, and I'm just going to highlight things I find particularly interesting, so go to the link and check it out yourself.
One thing of interest to me was this:
(And I don't know if that's what they did, but I think it's just as plausible that they had deliberately crossed as them having been kidnapped in China by North Korean operatives. My point is that we simply don't have the information with which to dismiss that possibility, and it's dishonest journalism to present it in this way.)
Gregg, Lee, and Brown talk about the Obama administration's efforts to keep the Ling & Lee case separate from the nuclearization issue. Donald Gregg also states his preference for former Vice President Al Gore — the two women's boss — to go to Pyongyang, though I think sending someone of that stature for this sends the wrong message: Create enough of a problem and we'll send the big guns to grovel. Bill Richardson, already the point man in such cases, should be the one to go, bearing as few gifts as possible.
Gregg talks about appealing on humanitarian grounds, recalling that even North Korea has concerns of its image. In South Korea, it would be on humilitarian grounds.
I'll write more later, but for now I have to head out the door. Meanwhile, CNN has this piece on life inside a North Korean prison, while the New York Times has this focus on the North Korean gulag. Though I think they were foolish and put a lot of other people in danger, my prayers go out to these two reporters who face something quite harrowing.