Saturday, March 21, 2009

Two Bay Area Journalists Now in North Korea

Update - April 24, 2009:

I saw the CNN headline stream past on Twitter yesterday, but didn't have a chance to read it.

The two Bay Area journalists caught on the border between China and North Korea who were then taken into North Korean custody in March will stand trial: U.S. journalists to be tried in N. Korea.

Maybe North Korea has decided to follow in the footsteps of Iran. Iran recently sentenced an American journalist to 8-years in prison. This is the first I've ever heard about a US citizen being on trial in the DPRK.

I can't even conceive of the process being anywhere near fair. But, on the flip side, after 8 years of seeing my own country go to the Dark Side completely with Guantanamo Bay, I'm not sure how loudly we'll be able to object. The objections over the journalist in Iran do seem to be more of a whimper than a roar. Anyway you look at it. it's just horrible.

This isn't good by any stretch. They're all in my prayers.

More info: US journalists to face North Korea trial

I got wind of this story earlier today. Unfortunately, it looks like two Bay Area journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee of Current TV, were on the Chinese/North Korean border at the Tumen River when they were picked up on Tuesday and taken into North Korea by authorities. Their translator was also nabbed in this pick up. North Korean authorities claim, of course, they were in North Korean territory.

The details are still developing. However, here is the news radio snippet I heard on it today.

Here is a BBC link on this story: N Korea Confirms Reporters Held

There isn't much I can say at this point, as there are very few facts on this case. In the report I linked, the person interviewed seems to think that they're being kept in North Korea so that the North Koreans can find out who their sources and informants are. That's probable. It's just that, unless they're experts in the area and its history, I wonder how much they know beyond their immediate contacts. The BBC article mentions that their trip was coordinated by Chun ki-won, who is famous for smuggling out many North Korean defectors. He's in the press too.

Also, there is a place called 하나원, Hanawon, which is in Anseong a city about one hour south of Seoul, where North Koreans are trained to be able to handle life and work in South Korea. But that's been in the news that all you have to do is Google it to learn about it. They know about this in North Korea already. A few years ago when I taught at a university in Anseong, one of my students worked there. I was still at Ewha at the time and had to fight asking him questions about his job. Of course, there were times I did.

I'm sure everyone will be curious to see how this one plays out. Of course, I hope both Luna, Euna and their translator get out safe and sound.

I've seen a many of reports on North Korean defectors and the hard road they face trying to leave the DPRK. It seems like they were working on another story of this type. The defectors have to make it through China and then into Thailand where they processed and sent to countries that will take them.

It's a peril filled journey for sure.

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