By James Edward Sved on June 21, 2009
PARIS (Herald de Paris et Cie.) – Before Laura Ling and Euna Lee became household names for entirely the wrong reason; before North Korean missile tests; before UN resolutions for violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Laura’s sister, investigative reporter Lisa Ling, sneaked into North Korea for The National Geographic Channel’s EXPLORER series, in 2006, posing as a member of a humanitarian eye surgery team.¬† The end result was a documentary titled, “Undercover in North Korea.”
Lisa’s hour-long Undercover in North Korea defied Kim Jong Il’s ban on outside journalists, and offered a glimpse of life above the 38th parallel previously unseen by the rest of the world.¬† What Lisa and her team reported was a North Korea fraught with humanitarian problems like famine, malnutrition, and almost non-existent healthcare.¬† The Citizens of North Korea were portrayed as having been all but brainwashed by fear.
It has long been known that Kim regularly punishes, arrests, or worse, members of entire families, when someone breaks one if his many laws.¬† This is his way of suppressing opposition to his rule.¬† It is, therefore, not inconceivable that Laura Ling was detained and subsequently convicted for her sister Lisa’s “grave crime against the Korean nation”.¬† Is it possible?¬† Everything is possible under Kim.
Much has been made of the harsh, 12-year sentence Laura Ling and Euna Lee were handed for what amounted to an illegal border crossing.¬† In most countries, such an offense garners little more than deportation, unless other crimes were committed on the infiltrated country’s soil.¬† What was so unique about¬† the possibility that Lisa Ling is being punished for her sister’s illegal entry and recording of North Korea is that¬† Lisa’s documentary, which has been pulled from the National Geographic website, might offer a clue about the sentence.
Lisa Ling’s undercover documentary discusses #22, a prisoner work camp where entire families are sent to work hard labor in a prisoner work mine.¬† Facilities like #22 are internment camps whose conditions are so poor that it is explained you have a better chance of dying than completing your sentence.¬† This is exactly the kind of work camp Laura Ling and Euna Lee were sentenced to spend the next twelve years in.
Be clear, Lisa Ling did not cause her sister to be arrested, and regardless the result holds no responsibility for the illegal and inhumane incarceration of her sister and Euna Lee.¬† However, trying to understand how the North Korean government might view the arrival of two American journalists, who may or may not have been trying to enter North Korea, offers a possible glimpse into how we may have arrived at this terrible situation.
There are innumerable reasons why Laura Ling and Euna Lee should be released, immediately.¬† If, however, they were convicted for “crimes” committed by Laura Ling’s sister, that needs to be reason #1.