2 American reporters from Current TV, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp by North Korea on Monday. Their crime was supposedly illegal entry into the country.


It is unknown by the US if they strayed across the border or were kidnapped by border guards and taken into North Korea, to be used as pawns. The United States has been unable to obtain much information about the trial. The women were arrested in March.  They were doing investigative reporting about human trafficking in that region when they were arrested.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has expressed grave concern over the 2 women. The trial was closed to the public and the two women were tried by the highest court, so there can be no appeal.

24 Thoughts to “2 American Reporters sentenced in North Korea”

  1. Gainesville Resident

    The situation with North Korea is getting very dangerous – particular as it appears the youngest son of the current dictator has been picked to succeed him. He is more hardline than the current dictator.

    This whole thing with the 2 reporters is awful. Don’t know if they strayed across the border – it is the DMZ and would be hard to do. In any event, they don’t deserve to be convicted and sent to labor camp for 12 years.

    There is indeed much human trafficking even on the South Korea side. I know, as I’ve been there and at the US military base – several bars in the town around it – are off limits to soldiers as they engage in human trafficking. That is South Korea, but I’m sure the problem is even worse in North Korea.

    The fact the trials were closed to the public, shows that they were most likely not at all fair trials.

    Anyway, the situation with North Korea is really heating up, let’s just put it that way.

  2. Second-Alamo

    Don’t worry, I’m sure Obama can sweet talk them into releasing the two reporters. Yeah right! Perhaps if he points out the similarities we have with them they will be more gracious and forgiving. Not! Haven’t we learned that there are those in this world that only understand force? Sure, I’d like to think that if we dropped the hard line attitude that the other side would do as well, but when that fails, then be prepared to have force at the ready. Something about talking softly, but carrying a big stick I recall.

  3. Opinion

    Let us not forget that they did go into North Korean territory gathering information that some might call intelligence with full knowledge of the potential consequences.

    While I certainly sympathies with them, I don’t want to validate their actions so others will be encouraged to follow their example. I’m an “old soldier” and not impressed with those who get caught up in the romance of dangerous actions such as this with little regard for the consequences. What was Al Gore (they work for Al Gore’s organization) thinking to allow this to happen?

  4. Mando

    North Korea is looking for two things -> concessions from the west and a smooth transition of power for the Dear Leader’s son. You can bet the farm that there is no coincidence that they “apprehended” two US reporters.

  5. Moon-howler

    I don’t think it has been firmly established where they were. As several have pointed out here, it is difficult to ‘stray.’ (couldn’t prove it by me) Could they have been kidnapped or just grabbed?

  6. Opinion

    They are reporters looking for a story. I’m afraid I have little sympathy for the press when they push the limits (and regret the distraction they created when we have so many more important issues with North Korea at the moment).

    When they get out (and they will get out), there will be a couple of books and movie rights. I’m guessing Al Gore will buy their freedom.

    I think they found their story.

  7. Gainesville Resident

    IT is indeed true, some reporters push the limits of things, and go places where they shouldn’t, in search of “the big story”. If these reporters were trying to get some pulitzer prize winning story and intentionally went into north korea to do so – my sympathy ebbs a bit.

    As I said, there’s plenty of human trafficking in South Korea – they didn’t need to go to North Korea to find it. In fact, even in the southern portion of it where I was – the military base had big signs up in the food court area – saying the following bars in the town around the base were prohibited to US Forces Korea personnel – due to their involvement in human trafficking of prostitutes. It listed 4 or 5 bars on the main street in the town (it is not that big of a town but has 10 or 15 bars that mostly cater to the soldiers right outside the main gate of the base.

  8. Gainesville Resident

    Mando – I do agree with you – this whole recent business with the missile testing and nuke tests, is indeed a ploy to gain concessions from the USA and others. They’ve played this game before. It also is linked in to the succession – from what I’ve heard apparently the youngest son has been chosen – who has a rep for being a hardliner.

  9. I feel bad for ANYONE who has been kidnapped and/or abused.

    We need to remember, though, that not everyone respects freedom of the press.

  10. Moon-howler

    Freedom of the press, even in America, is somewhat limited. Try publishing something the Washington Post finds distasteful or not to their liking. Try putting something in a school newspaper that the school doesn’t want in there. All those types of cases have been upheld by the Supremes.

    I don’t think they do have the right to go into any country that doesn’t give them a visa. That is not an automatic, just because they have press credentials.

    My problem with the American journalists is that most information about them has been walled off behind North Korean walls. 1. We don’t know if they actually entered Korea illegally or if they were snatched. 2. their trial was not announced nor made public. 3. It appears to be a political ploy by the North Koreans. Attention seeking behavior.

  11. Yes, MH, the media in the US is somewhat selective. Those school newspaper cases are particularly interesting. College newspapers have even more complex problems.

    I am also concerned that we don’t know what happened to them. It seems a little more than attention getting to me, though. It’s rather a threat and an international “incident” now.

  12. TDB


    So, it’s ok for 20 million illegal’s (a.k.a. undocumented)to be in our country?? Maybe we should be calling the illegal’s ‘journalists’. That would teach them.

  13. Witness Too

    I am really saddened that there are people here taking North Korea’s side on this question of what side of the border they were walking on when these two AMERICAN CITIZENS were abducted. There was another comment on a previous thread, and I thought I’d leave this alone, but I have to agree with whoever pointed this out the first time: if these two women were Caucasian, no one would be taking North Korea’s side or saying they have trouble expressing sympathy. These two women are no less American than any of us posting on this blog. Let’s try to remember this before we endeavor to take sides against them or against President Obama. Not everything is an opportunity to be partisan.

  14. Moon-howler

    TDB, when have you ever heard me say it is ok for 20 million illegal immigrants to be in this country? I think you might be hard pressed to find that one in print.

    Witness, whether they were abducted or entered North Korea illegally, no one should be taking N. Korea’s side. They have no side in my opinion.

  15. Opinion

    No one actually expects these young ladies to serve out their sentences (and I’m guessing people are already planning the book release and negotiating movie rights). IMHO, the best commentary on their situation is http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/blog/eyeonasia/archives/2009/06/north_korea_see.html?campaign_id=rss_daily

    These young ladies are about to cash in!

  16. Moon-howler

    Thanks for that link, Opinion. There are very serious issues with North Korea. I hate to see this distraction.

  17. Gainesville Resident

    Actually, it turns out there is much misinformation on this case. I have from reputable sources – that the reporters were captured near the CHINA border with North Korea (not the South Korean border) and they were doing research on North Korean defectors in China. I would guess they were on the China side of the border. Also, they were not investigating human trafficking. This is from the person on South Korea who runs the system I designed and is deployed there – so he should know. Of course, you can’t trust the press to report accurately on things.

    Anyway, one hopes the situation will be resolved soon, but the fear is that North Korea won’t release them quickly as they don’t want to look weak for caving in to western demands.

    To put it concisely – the situation with North Korea is about the worse it has been since the end of the Korean War. The problem with the reporters, while of course a cause for concern, is nothing compared to the saber rattling that North Korea is doing with missile tests and so on. They don’t yet have the technology to hit the west coast of the USA, but they may not be too far off from doing so. Of course, they can easily lob missiles at South Korea, and that is a great cause for concern. We have a lot of US forces stationed there in about half a dozen army bases. Things are really heating up over there – and the issue with the reporters is just one small facet of what is going on there. Again, it is complicated by the fact North Korea is on the verge of seeing a change in leadership – and the youngest son of the current leader may be even more hardline than he is, unfortunately.

  18. Opinion

    I spent a year on the DMZ (the Demilitarized Zone) between North and South Korea. If invaded by North Korea, our orders were to keep their Army busy for five minutes so we could get our Jets off the ground. We were then “written off.” There are concrete walls built across South Korea with neat little sections cut out for traffic. In case of an invasion, these little sections are primed with explosives to be “dropped” thus sealing off the Northern part of South Korea to slow the North Korean Army down a bit.

    For the sake of the men and women serving on the DMZ now and for the residents of South Korea, I hope we resolve this. Given a choice of taking out Saddam Hussain or Kin Jong-Il to make the world a safer place, I think out resources would have been better spent taking care of the “North Korean” problem. Perhaps now is the time. Kim Jong-Il is a clear and present danger to the security of the United States and the world.

    I believe China has come to the same conclusion and perhaps can take the lead in this regard.

  19. @Gainesville Resident
    GR, do you have a source we can reference?

  20. Moon-howler

    Just a hunch that political assassination is not illegal in China.

    Thanks Opinion and GR for your first hand reports.

    Surprise Surprise! The press was wrong.

  21. Gainesville Resident

    Pinko – i have given out as much info as I am willing to on my source.

  22. Elena

    The reality is that being a journalist should not be an offense worthy of 12 years in prison. That simple. They are not CIA they are not trying to steal military secrets. My hearts go out to them and their families. I saw Lisa on CNN and clearly her family is heartbroken.

  23. Elena

    Let’s hope China takes the lead, N. Korea may listen.

  24. Opinion


    I think China’s approach to negotiation will be a bit different than ours since they are North Korea’s primary sponsor and benefactor. China is recognizing the distraction that such an unstable neighbor brings to the region at a time when they are working on their image to encourage foreign investment and promote free market principles.

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