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USA: Journalists to Stand Trial in North Korea

Categories: East Asia, North America, North Korea, U.S.A., Breaking News, Digital Activism, Human Rights, International Relations, Law, Media & Journalism, Travel

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 [1] 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 [2], 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 [3] 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 [4] 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 [5] and this one [6].  A petition [7] 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 state [8]s that the two women could face years in a labor camp; the LA Times suggests [9] 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 [10], 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.