Two Female American Reporters Sentenced to 12 Years in North Korea

Euna Lee and Laura Ling, the two reporters for Current TV who were arrested when North Korea said they were improperly in the country, have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. The LA Times reports:

Ling, 32, and Lee, 36, were arrested March 17 along the China-North Korean border after top officials in Pyongyang said they had encroached on North Korean soil while reporting a story on human trafficking by Kim Jong Il's regime.

Laura Ling is the sister of tv personality Lisa Ling. Will that help her get released?

Life in a North Korea labor camp is not pleasant:

North Korean labor camps are notorious for their high death rates because of malnutrition and overwork. But thus far, the women have been fairly well treated, housed in a Pyongyang guest house and allowed occasional telephone calls. The Swedish ambassador has also been permitted to visit them.


The U.S. has made overtures for their release, but it sounds like they wanted to wait until the trial was over:

Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had called for the women's release.

Clinton said she has spoken with foreign officials with influence in North Korea and explored the possibility of sending an envoy to the North, but suggested that no one would be sent during the trial.

I hope Al Gore goes over. They were reporting for Current TV, a company he founded, and surely he has some diplomatic abilities.

Now that the results came out from the trial, the next step will be a political pardon and a diplomatic resolution," he said. "It's highly likely that Al Gore will visit Pyongyang as early as late this week."

Al-Jazeera has more on the labor camps:

The US state department estimates that 150,000-200,000 prisoners are detained in the camps, located in valleys in remote mountainous areas of the and central and northern part of North Korea. There are thought to be between six and eight main camps, with dozens of other smaller camps.

Conditions in the network of labour camps are reported to be extremely harsh, with rights groups saying that torture and ill-treatment are widespread and thousands of children held and forced to work as slave labourers alongside their parents.

The same article states that reportsby human rights groups show that 20 to 25% of the female prisoners die every year.

According to a recently published report by the nongovernmental US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, thousands of prisoners are forced to work – many to their deaths – in mining, logging, farming and industrial enterprises.

The committee's report entitled "The Hidden Gulag" said that the camps give out such meagre food rations that prisoners are kept in a condition of "deliberately contrived semi-starvation".

The Human Rights Groups say:

Human rights groups believe most of the prisoners in North Korean labour camps are political detainees, many serving life sentences and often with up three generations of their family detained with them.

"Inmates are made to work from early morning till late at night in farms or factories, and minor infractions of rules can be met with severe beatings," Amnesty International's latest report on North Korea said.

If you have the stomach for it, read on:

Former inmates who have escaped North Korea have given accounts of brutal treatment inside the camps, including regular beatings, forced abortions, and rape.

Others have told of Nazi-style experiments involving chemical and biological weapons resulting in the painful deaths of dozens of prisoners at a time.

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  • Display: Sort:
    How I wish (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by eric on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 07:49:08 AM EST
    the United States had some credibility left when it comes to the issue of prosecution and detention people for vaguely defined crimes against the state.

    Shameful (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by Steve M on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 08:50:54 AM EST
    Here's hoping we are as successful at securing their release through diplomacy as we were with Roxana Saberi in Iran.

    You are off point (4.00 / 1) (#2)
    by movedtospeak on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 06:35:00 AM EST
    What a waste of talent?  You are completely off base and show a remarkable lack of depth.  What a waste of talent?  How about a tragic waste of life?  Your post is without feeling and has an inappropriate focus in my opinion.  One of these women has a 4 year old daughter.  Both of these women and their fellow prisoners are parents, children, human beings. . .I imagine that the one reporter's 4 year old little girl does not go to be at night worrying over her mom's bright journalistic future.  I don't advocate breaking laws.  If these women are guilty of a crime I am not in favor of them breaking the rules in the first place.  I also understand they were certainly aware of the dangers of their choices. However, I have empathy for their situation and real human concern and feelings for their possibly tragic fate and certain torturous daily life.  Have you done your research on the reality of these Korean labor camps?  If so, I would hope that you might be able to step out of yourself a bit to contribute more than a 'too bad,' and 'good luck.'  

    He doesn't care...he only came over to (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 08:21:16 AM EST
    advertise his own web site. Do not feed these trolls by responding to their spam.

    the comment you are replying to (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:59:45 AM EST
    has been deleted. It was a commericial spammer.

    That was also "movedtospeak's" 1st (none / 0) (#11)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:22:24 AM EST
    comment ever. They could be a tag-team :) to see if they can generate interest in the comment with the link.

    Monday mornings... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 09:40:48 AM EST
    are harsh enough without such terrible news...lets hope our leaders earn their pay for a change and get these women released asap.

    As for North Korea...what the hell are the Korean people waiting for...is there any kind of resistance to speak of?  If things got that bad here I'd like to think we the people would get off our arse and fight...then again maybe we wouldn't.

    North Korea is a big cult (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Dadler on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:43:16 AM EST
    It has been for decades.  Cult members tend to be extremely hard to flip.  It's why much of our attitude and action toward the place ends up being so counterproductive or pointless.  

    That is understandable... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 11:00:11 AM EST
    for the N. Korean not sent to a labor camp...but what of the slaves in the camps?  You'd think there would be daily shankings of guards...unless the people are that broken, or malnourished they've lost all will to live free.

    Malnourished for generations now (none / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 05:42:31 PM EST
    A typical North Korean at 7 years of age is inches shorter now than a typical 7 year old South Korean child.

    North Korea (none / 0) (#12)
    by jcr41629 on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 01:00:23 PM EST
    It's time for other countries to stand up and start fighting against other  countries that try to intimidate others. Every time there is a conflict somewhere all these countries want the USA to fight the wars for them. It is time for the world and other countries to help in these battles against terrorism. Iran and North Korea need to be dealt with harshly and it needs to be a world dealing from many different countries to prove to them they can't keep doing anything they want against everyone. Every country has to be firm against this and stand together. If they want to war every country that is against terrorism should help out with the war. This will prove to them that everyone is against them and it will change them or it will end them which ever they choose.

    Maybe it's just me (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by jondee on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 02:08:50 PM EST
    but, it seems like some of the people who are constantly glossing over the historical, cultural and political differences between Iran and North Korean in order to make them one "Axis of Evil" are some of those interests who want us to "fight wars for them."

    North Korea is more about (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 05:40:50 PM EST
    control freaks out of control.  Education of the population would help a lot.  Protests in South Korea of college students believing that the U.S. is preventing a healthy and blissful uniting of the Koreas has died way back as South Korea remembers in the old and deals with the reality in the young what uniting with North Korea would mean/could mean.  It is a very complex problem with a completely uneducated population in North Korea living truly in their own world.  They have lived a dictator nightmare in North Korea for decades.  The entire population has a sort of battered victim syndrome that is now deeply ingrained.  Time, patience, the eventual intrusion of the reality of the rest of the world will probably go much farther in saving on the human toll than war ever would.  Those that suffer immediately, those that will die tomorrow....I have no easy fix for and I doubt a war would improve that.

    Please share your thoughts with (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by oculus on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 05:42:31 PM EST
    Hillary Clinton.

    She isn't taking my calls (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 05:46:29 PM EST
    Neither is some dude I need to pick a judging panel with for a dogshow next year after he threw a big fit in front of God and everyone and I told him was being childish....that life just goes on and ya gotta let it.  I can't keep anyone happy right now except for a couple of dogs and two kids and that's only because I have food.

    Euna Lee has a 4 y/o. (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 05:44:28 PM EST