Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Laura Ling And Euna Lee Issue First Statement Since Being Set Free

There has been a looming question as to how Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two American journalists held captive in North Korea until freed and retrieved by former President Clinton (Berman Post: Two American Journalists Freed From North Korean), ended up in North Korea in the first place. The two have released their first statement since being freed which sheds some light on the sequence of events.

Reading between the lines a little, the two were doing a story on human trafficking for Current TV (Al Gore's network). That story took them to the boarder of North Korea and China. The boarder, marked by a river, was frozen over. Laura Ling and Euna Lee followed their guide onto, and then across the river. Once across, knowing they were in North Korea, the two got nerves and started heading back to China. While on the ice toward the middle of the river, Korea soldiers saw and gave chase. Both made it back on to Chinese soil before being dragged back across the boarder by the North Korean soldiers. Put more simply; the two crossed into North Korea, but were back on Chinese soil before they were apprehended and dragged back to North Korea by force.

"When we set out, we had no intention of leaving China, but when our guide beckoned for us to follow him beyond the middle of the river, we did, eventually arriving at the riverbank on the North Korean side. He pointed out a small village in the distance where he told us that North Koreans waited in safe houses to be smuggled into China via a well-established network that has escorted tens of thousands across the porous border.

Feeling nervous about where we were, we quickly turned back toward China. Midway across the ice, we heard yelling. We looked back and saw two North Korean soldiers with rifles running toward us. Instinctively, we ran.

We were firmly back inside China when the soldiers apprehended us. Producer Mitch Koss and our guide were both able to outrun the border guards. We were not. We tried with all our might to cling to bushes, ground, anything that would keep us on Chinese soil, but we were no match for the determined soldiers. They violently dragged us back across the ice to North Korea and marched us to a nearby army base, where we were detained.

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