USA: Journalists to Stand Trial in North Korea

On June 4, two American journalists will stand trial in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) for illegal entry into the country. The two women, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, both Asian-American journalists with Current TV, were detained on March 17, but despite the fame of Ling's sister (Lisa Ling, special correspondent for the National Geographic Channel, Oprah, and CNN), little attention has been paid by the mainstream media to the two women, partly due to the sensitive diplomatic situation.

But on the eve of their trial, the blogosphere is abuzz with talk of the journalists’ fate. U.S.-based blogger Angry Asian Man has the scoop on where to find more information on Ling and Lee:

Now more than ever, it's extremely important that people are made aware of Euna Lee and Laura Ling's situation. To learn more, visit this Facebook group, which is being regularly updated with information on what you can do to help. Spread the word. Free Euna and Laura!

Brenna Hamilton, who blogs at The Art School Girl of Doom Rides Again, pleads with readers to show support for Ling and Lee:

To show my support as a long-time friend of the family, I ask you to join me in my efforts to secure Laura and Euna’s immediate release. Due to the sensitive international diplomatic ramifications, the families have refrained from speakaing publicly on the situation.

The blogger lists a number of ways to get involved, and adds:

Whatever you do, please be positive in expressing your support. It's doesn't help Laura and Euna’s cause to engage in negative speech or activities, so I will no longer be constructing L'il Kim™ effigies and/or partaking in my infamous Photoshop defacing antics. The singular goal of everyone involved is the immediate and safe return of the two terribly missed journalists.

One of several bloggers on the Korean-American group blog Kimchi Mamas expressed her thoughts as to why the journalists’ story has garnered so little attention in the mainstream media:

I know that a lot of us have been watching the news since Euna Lee and Laura Ling were captured, wondering why there haven't been substantial news reports on their plight. Yes, we understood that it's a sensitive situation, that North Korea is unpredictable and that there were surely efforts going on behind the scenes. But as news reports about an American ship captain captured by pirates and then dramatically rescued and then more recently the flurry of news surrounding Roxana Saberi's trial, conviction, appeal and release, the silence around Euna and Laura weighed heavily on my mind.

Several Facebook groups call for support for Laura Ling and Euna Lee

Several Facebook groups call for support for Laura Ling and Euna Lee

In addition to the blog posts, numerous groups have popped up on Facebook to express solidarity with Ling and Lee, including this one and this one.  A petition has also been initiated.

Despite the outpouring of support, the media surmises that Lee and Ling will likely face harsh punishment.  The New York Times states that the two women could face years in a labor camp; the LA Times suggests that such a sentence could be for up to 15 years.

For more information and updates on Euna Lee and Laura Ling, visit the Committee to Protect Journalists, where, on the recently updated article, one concerned citizen expressed the reason support of the two journalists is so critical:

Of course high risk journalism has high risk consequences. This is all the more reason that we should support Ms.Ling and Ms.Lee, and other journalists who take great personal risks to provide information to the public.

There are brave voices of activists and writers who speak from within the borders of their nations. There are also brave international journalists who bring information to the world. Both should be defended by those of us living in comfort,safety and peace.


  • It’s a shame that there are not enough good professional reporters in this world to cover this story intelligently. I applaud Donald Kirk for his journalistic excellence and encourage anybody who seeks comprehensive coverage of this story to check out his recent articles in Asia Times and Christian Science Monitor.
    I’ll provide a link here to the latest:

    If you do a Google news search from May 1 to June 3 for “Mitch Koss” then aside from Donald Kirk’s articles only media reports in Vietnam and Portugal mention his name.

    See my comments on CNN’s AC360 blog and underneath NPR’s online articles for insight and theories involving the silence of Current TV and the apparent disappearance of the ethnic Korean (citizen of China) local guide in Yanji who led the Current TV crew into danger.

  • Belinda

    I’ll ditto this. Koss had been Lisa Ling’s producer at Channel 1, as well. Laura Ling’s had a lot of experience–but all at Current. Lee is an editor, and had never done field work, much less an international assignment. Who assigned them to this story or agreed to let them go? Is Current keeping Koss quiet to avoid any legal issues?

    Neither of these women were seasoned network news pros. Current hires inexperienced people and throws them to the wolves.

  • The entire staff of Current TV is being told to maintain silence and not attend the vigils. This is from an anonymous staff member who tipped Gawker.

    Here is a Dutch newspaper in the Netherlands saying that the families of Euna Lee (her husband Michael Saldate) and Laura Ling (her husband Iain Clayton and sister Lisa Ling) suspect that the Korean-Chinese guide lured Current TV’s crew into a trap.

    “Overigens werden de op 17 maart ook aanwezige cameraman, Mitch Koss, en een Chinees-Koreaanse gids niet gearresteerd. Familie van de twee vrouwen verdenkt de gids ervan de twee in de val te hebben gelokt. Cameraman Koss, die de toedracht heeft gezien, heeft in de VS zwijgplicht gekregen teneinde het lot van de vrouwen niet in gevaar te brengen.”

    Perhaps an editor of Global Voices Online can call upon a Dutch correspondent to give us an accurate translation here, but the results I got from “Google Translate” contain the words “suspect” and “lured”
    That’s good enough for me to proceed with the theory that I have had all along.

  • Here’s a translation of the Dutch quote:

    “Incidentally, Mitch Koss, the cameraman present on 17 March, and a Chinese Korean guide were not arrested. Family members of the two women suspect the guide of having tricked the two women. Cameraman Koss, who witnessed the circumstances, has been enjoined to silence in the US so as not to endanger the fate of the women.”

    The source is a Dutch Christian reformational newspaper.

  • Hartelijk dank! (I always keep my Berlitz European phrase book next to my computer)

    Here is the key sentence: “Family members of the two women suspect the guide of having tricked the two women.”

    This suspicion of the guide held by family members has not been reported in American media. I have also found an Australian radio interview mentioning that Mitch Koss says North Korean border guards arrested Laura Ling and Euna Lee on China’s side of the border:

    MARK WILLACY: “…Pyongyang says they illegally set foot on North Korean territory but supporters of the journalists say they were on the Chinese side of the border and that’s been backed up by the reporter’s cameraman who was working with the two women but managed to escape. He’s backed their story that North Korean border guards arrested the pair on the Chinese side of the border.”

    You can rely on Spelunker to find the facts from overseas media that Current TV’s Tiananmen umbrellas are trying to hide from the American public.

  • […] state condannate [in] a 12 anni di lavori forzati. Nei giorni scorsi Global Voices ha offerto una panoramica dei post pubblicati [in] prima della […]

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