Friday, September 4, 2009

Heavily invested

I still haven't had time to thoroughly fisk Laura Ling and Euna Lee's confessional, and I have deliberately avoided reading things like Joshua Stanton's probably excellent take on the issue, as well as the lengthy discussion below it.

But for the time being I want to point out that there are a lot of people heavily invested — as Joshua himself once was — in the idea of these women's (and Mitch Koss's) innocence and, well, lack of culpability. Groups like "Liberate Laura" (whose blog title tell it all):
They were captured not on the North Korean riverbank that they crossed over to but rather on the Chinese side of the frozen Tumen as they tried to flee; they apparently mistook the hooting sounds and cell phone calls made by their Chinese-Korean guide (separate from other odd behavior) as a way of communicating with friendly North Korean associates rather than ruthless border guards; and they insist that they went out of their way to destroy evidence and protect the identities of interview subjects and those who helped them, in the latter case despite “rigorous, daily interrogations.”

Although the pair claim that “to this day, we still don’t know if we were lured into a trap,” all signs point to the aforementioned guide – Kim Seong-cheol – being the man responsible for the mother of all @current contretemps. Which begs a new question: Where the hell is he?
The cheerleaders would have so much more to deal with if they were caught on North Korean soil and if their capture hadn't been due to duplicity but Laura Ling's (and Euna Lee's and Mitch Koss's) own stupogance. And for that reason, they must keep insisting on whatever points mitigate or eliminate their own culpability.

And what's up with calling the organization/blog "Liberate Laura"? There were two Americans captured, not just one. Sure, "Liberate Laura" is more alliterative, but come on. Is the influence of Lisa Ling that overbearing?

Oh, geez. I hope Oprah doesn't have me silenced.


  1. It's not about the Twitter account name, it's about the tweets.

  2. E.g., in the end, it's not the Twitter handle that counts (LiberateLaura, EmancipateEuna, FreeLauraEuna)... It's what you communicate through that account.

  3. That's what I thought you meant, but I'm not buying it.

    From day 1, the public relations of this whole affair has stunk of Lisa Ling's hands all over it. One can easily imagine her calculating book deals and what not once her little sister got out of the NK joint. That it was called "Liberate Laura" is quite telling, methinks, even if a lot of the minions who got online also happened — unlike Lisa Ling — to recall that there were two people left in Mitch Koss's cloud of dust that morning.

  4. Just to state the obvious, Lisa Ling had zero to do with the naming of my Twitter page. T'was simply what came to my mind first after reading @NYTimesKristof's April 26th tweet explaining that there was (at that time) a Twitter page for Roxana Saberi, but none for Ling-Lee.

    A careful perusal of my tweets will reveal many about Euna (often covering aspects of her that one one else was-is reporting on), as well as links to various opposing views, sometimes to the consternation of followers.

    Personally, it's like me suggesting that this blog must have a pro-Godzilla stance.

  5. Fair enough, Richard. I will accept that "Liberate Laura" was simply a preference of alliteration over accuracy and leave it at that.

    But I will stand by my contention that the name of your group makes for a nice allegory, even if unintentional, that Lisa Ling's influence behind the scenes has been and continues to be a driving force in how this has played out. She wanted to paint her sister as an unwitting victim and continues to do so, and she appears to be shamelessly trying to milk this situation for money and recognition, and Laura Ling is going along with it.

    I find it all quite distasteful, especially when it borders on dishonesty and a lack of responsibility-taking.

    I was right (see One Free Korea) back in March and April when I was one of the lone voices saying — to much criticism of my views — that Laura Ling and Euna Lee (and possibly Mitch Koss) had deliberately and knowingly gone to North Korean soil. The whole story sounded fishy the way it was being presented, and their confessional sounds fishy now.

    I'll explain that when I have a chance to fisk the confessional in the next few days.

  6. And while I understand your Godzilla comment, I would like to point out that it's not quite the same. You actually have "Laura" (but not "Euna") in your title, but nowhere on the front of this site is Godzilla mentioned, and the site has nothing to do with Godzilla.

    The lower right-hand column explains the blog title (do a word search for "Monster Island (actually a peninsula)," and the pictures of monsters are either from "The Simpsons" or, at the top, from the Korean movie Yonggary (대괴수 용가리).

    IOW, that is not Godzilla, and the city is Seoul (that's Namdaemun in the foreground).

  7. The success of LiberateLaura was derived largely from the fact that I linked to all views - pro, con, speculative, especially when it came to things like did-they-cross, why-is-Mitch-not-talking, what-is-the-deal-with-current's-silence, and so on.

    As well as the fact that I blogged myself separately, to join that fray.

    I don't always agree with what you, Joshua Stanton, ROK Drop, Angry Asian Man and the rest say, but it's all a valuable part of the debate. (And sorry about the Godzilla slight).

  8. Joshua Stanton doesn't always agree with what I have to say, either. Before Lee and Ling later admitted it, he and several others on his site were picking apart my claims that they probably had knowingly and deliberately gone into North Korean territory.

    And then there are other areas regarding engagement (Sunshine) versus hard-line dealing on which we only occasionally come together.

    And no worries on the Godzilla comment. It's quite understandable, actually. After all, Yonggary was a chance for a re-emerging post-war Korean film industry to attempt what the Japanese had been doing.


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