Back in March two U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were detained by North Korean military personnel after allegedly crossing into North Korea from the People’s Republic of China. The journalists, on assignment for independent cable television network Current TV in San Francisco, were found guilty of illegal entry and plotting a ‘smear campaign‘ and in a closed trail were promptly sentenced to 12 years hard labor in a North Korean prison camp earlier this month.
“Laura and Euna are journalists who went to the China-North Korea border to do a job,” they said. “We don’t know what really happened on March 17, but if they wandered across the border without permission, we apologize on their behalf and we are certain that they have also apologized.”
CNN reported that the two women and the two unidentified men with them, were approached by North Korean military personnel after filming near the Tumen River area between the border of North Korea and China. Word has it that there is confusion as to if the journalists and their companions were actually on the Chinese side or the Korean side, because the border is not clearly marked.
“Obviously, we are deeply concerned about the length of the sentences and the fact that this trial was conducted totally in secret with no observers,” she said June 8. “And we are engaged in all possible ways, through every possible channel, to secure their release.”
The State Department reports that the United States is working with the Chinese government on the case, and is currently communicating through the Swedish Embassy located in North Korea capital Pyongyang. Sweden is representing the U.S. in this endeavor seeing as the United States does not have a diplomatic relationship with the North. As of now the Swedish ambassador has met with Ling and Lee three times, in March, May, and June 1st.
Ling, the sister of journalist Lisa Ling, and Lee a Current TV reporter, have had their families pleading for their safe return. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton told reporters earlier this month that the U.S. is pleading with North Korea to free the journalists on humanitarian grounds.
“The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee are grateful to the North Korean government for allowing the Swedish ambassador to visit Laura and Euna. We continue to appeal for their release on humanitarian grounds,” the statement read.
The relationship between the United States and North Korea has always been a tense one, especially with North Korea announcing is preparation to launch a missile the United States and other governments believe could be used to launch nuclear warheads. Such a launch would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.
- Skimkim Yummies: Stay Korean.
- Art HERstory: Chun Kyung-Ja
- The World According to M.I.S.S.: White House Correspondents Dinner
- M.I.S.S. Jet Set: Border Patrol
- Philadelphia Museum of Art: Frida Kahlo