Monday, July 13, 2009

My misanthropic views on Laura Ling and Euna Lee (and Mitch Koss for good measure)


Kushibo no longer gives a rat's ass about people liking his views or agreeing with them. I stated my views of The Misadventures of Ling and Lee some months ago, but here's a recap: they probably knowingly and deliberately crossed the border — it's a fu¢king river, for criminy's sake! It doesn't just sneak up on you where you say, "Gee, are we in North Korea or in China?" In doing so they risked not only their own safety but the lives — the ability to keep breathing — of people who would rely on that part of the porous border to escape. Their inevitable conviction and detainment (if not imprisonment) would lead the US to make uncomfortable concessions to the Pyongyang regime, and finally, after they're released, they'll write a book or books and go on publicity tours and get sympathy and riches. 

Fu¢k them. Do not buy their book, and I've already stated why:
Idiots. Smug, self-satisfied idiots. It's a good chance that when these two are released they will pen one or two books on their ordeal, perhaps with a multi-million-dollar signing bonus. I want to be the first to say, "Don't buy this book." I personally will launch a boycott of said book, because I think it is wrong, wrong, wrong to let willful idiots capitalize on their stupidity that has put others at risk. Just what will the US have to do to gain their release? Given the nature of the Dear Leader's regime and the important role that the US has in aiding South Korea's (and Japan's) security, can this kind of concession possibly be a good thing? That's not even considering, as I mentioned earlier, how they have effectively plugged up an important escape route for North Korean refugees. Idiots.
But they're still in North Korea, aren't they? Well, good. As it turns out last month, the US has acknowledged that — despite numerous claims from North Korea watchers that they were kidnapped from the Chinese side — the two and their cameraman Mitch Koss had actually crossed into North Korea:
The US government has established that the two women did cross the North Korean border with additional crew, and that they were chased and captured by North Korean border guards. It is unclear whether the border guards entered Chinese territory to effect their capture. The entire episode occurred within “a few dozen meters” of the North Korea – China border.
There's still that backpedaling — maybe they had crossed back into China and the Norks chased them! — but nevertheless they got caught doing something very, very, very stupid. And what makes me so angry — and my apologies for repeating myself yet again — is that they have likely put would-be defectors into very grave danger. 

So let them rot. There are reports that Hillary Clinton's State Department is changing its tune from denial the three (including Koss) had done anything wrong to acknowledging what they'd done and asking for clemency. 

Screw that. These two are reportedly being held in a comfortable setting (a guest house!), waiting for a deal to be brokered that includes at least an official apology (as if the US government controls its citizens) and Lord knows what else. Let them stew long enough for the North Koreans to decide that it's time they were moved to a labor camp.

Let them get a teeny tiny taste of what likely happened to those who have been caught when that part of the porous border was plugged up. Let them get experience a little of what they condemned others to. I mean, geez, it's not like these three accidentally crossed the border: It was a deliberate act that any reasonable thinking person would know was putting others at risk. Others that they were ostensibly there to help by highlighting their plight. Except that's not really what it was all about for these three. Ultimately, I believe in my heart, true motivation was to get that scoop, do the thing all the other journalists had not done. 

Now I'm not entirely misanthropic, so I think eventually it will be necessary to do what has to be done to secure their release (thanks again, Lee, Ling, and Koss), but their suffering should go beyond the inconveniences one would expect from, say, a lengthy stay at an H1N1 quarantine facility in Seoul. 

Oh, and someone go and pull out a few of Koss's fingernails. That guy shouldn't be walking around scot-free. Nah, I don't mean that. Calling on others to commit acts of violence is wrong, too. Really. But I do wish on him daily ice cream headaches until the Dear Leader leaves his earthly coils. 


  1. Bradley K. Martin beat you to infamy, and with less ego.

  2. So if someone knowingly breaks a law, the offended can judge, jury, and (essentially) execute that judgment without a fair trial? Is an illegal border crossing genuinely punishable by 12 YEARS in prison? The recent RIAA trial extracted $1.92 million for a woman supposedly infringing 24 songs. "Does the punishment fit the crime?" is my biggest question.

    As for the river question, it's a tough call. Somewhere in the middle of the DMZ there is indeed a line that separates NK and SK. Somehow I doubt there's a 'welcome to North Korea' sign showing a tourist where the line is. For the record, some borders over water or bridges are the halfway point; in other cases one side owns / built / maintains the bridge for consistency / simplicity purposes.

    They *might* get home safely. If they do indeed wish to write a book about their experiences then by all means boycott it. Respectfully, let's cross that bridge when it gets here, no matter where the border is.

  3. The North's domestic-focused anti-American propaganda is continually growing harsher and some experts fear that they'll push things to the point of actually having to act against the US to retain credibility. These two journalists may have unwittingly provided a nonviolent way out for both sides. The North could get a big formal apology from the US which would give it the propaganda victory it needs, without having to launch more rockets. The obvious advantage for the US (and S. Korea) is not getting blown the fuck up.

  4. Left Flank wrote:
    Bradley K. Martin beat you to infamy,

    Huh? Not sure what you mean, but my thoughts here are just a rehash of what I wrote in March (which comes before June 18 in my time zone). I only rehashed them because of the apparent admission by Washington (perhaps through Koss) that they had deliberately crossed into North Korea after all.

    and with less ego.

    Huh? This is anger and outrage, not ego.

  5. Chris in South Korea, I'm not condoning their ridiculous treatment in North Korea's kangaroo court system. I do have some sympathy, and I've written as much, but the risk they've brought upon others and the potential damage to government policy in dealing with Pyongyang — primarily out of self-promotion and professional aggrandizement — has me seething.

  6. Erik, that's an interesting hypothesis about providing a way for everyone to back down, but I'm a bit skeptical.

  7. @Chris in South Korea:

    You seem to be missing a few marbles. I hope you are not here to 'educate' the children.

    I shouldn't have to explain this, but I'm feeling charitable:

    The women in question crossed the Chinese-North Korean border (which IS a river, and not a 'tough call,' whatever that means), and were never anywhere near the DMZ.

    The latter is where the border or, more precisely, the military demarcation line, between North and South Korea lies. It could not possibly be more clearly marked--if the hundreds of thousands of stationed soldiers didn't make its presence obvious--and even if it were not, it's unlikely that any tourists would be within the zone unless they were trying to get ventilated or wanted to get rid of a pesky lower body.

  8. Scores of tourists cross into the Korean side of the Yalu and Tumen Rivers each day(under unwritten Chinese protection?) and are tolerated.

    I would say most likely, they not only crossed onto the North Korean side of the Yalu and Tumen rivers, but also were up to something fishy (large video cameras, film crew, crossing at a remote portion of the river, maybe landed on the other side) that provoked this response. Or something like in this Nicholas Kristof column:

    I've spent some time in Yanbian and got the feeling there is a lot going on behind the scenes with its proximity to North Korea and China's sensitivity to the 'illegal Korean migrant'(refugee) situation. The place is awash with human trafficking, drug running, underground missionary networks,and lot's of locals joking about North Korean agents looking to kidnap helpless Americans (not so funny after this)

    The journalists should have been aware of the risks and were probably doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time, giving the North Koreans a perfect opportunity to start playing a new round of games.

  9. as much as i think there was mistake on their part,

    you can't really blame someone for the shit they are in. you dont know waht kind of circumstances they are in.

    you can't always act rationally in uncertain situations, can you really blame them for that?


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