Laura Ling and Euna Lee shared their experience reporting on the North Korean refugee movement in China and being imprisoned in North Korea earlier this week an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times called “Hostages of the Hermit Kingdom.”
Like two good journalists, they do a great job describing the scene. They also make a point to respond to several criticisms they have received, such as ones from South Koreans concerned that the attention surrounding their imprisonment has compromised safe houses for the North Korean refugees.
Since our release, we have become aware that the situation along the China-North Korea border has become even more challenging for aid groups and that many defectors are going deeper underground. We regret if any of our actions, including the high-profile nature of our confinement, has led to increased scrutiny of activists and North Koreans living along the border. The activists’ work is inspiring, courageous and crucial.
Many people have asked about our strength to endure such hardships and uncertainty. But our experiences pale when compared with the hardship facing so many people living in North Korea or as illegal immigrants in China.
A great complementary piece to read (or listen to) once you read the op-ed, is a a story from National Public Radio that takes more about the North Korean refugee movement
In the story “All Things Considered” hosts Noah Adams and Robert Siegal interviewed Tom O’Neill of National Geographic about his challenges in reporting in the same region and his take on the Op-Ed piece.