American journalists imprisoned in North Korea tell their story

Ling and Lee were chased back into China by North Korean soldiers and then apprehended

Current TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee recount their 140 day imprisonment in a North Korean detention centre in an op-ed piece in the Los Angles Times that focuses on the reason they went to China: “We wanted to raise awareness about the harsh reality facing these North Korean defectors who, because of their illegal status in China, live in terror of being sent back to their homeland,” they write. The two say they had no intention of leaving China but ending up following their guide into North Korea. Feeling nervous, they turned back, only to be pursued by two North Korean soldiers with rifles. They claim they were firmly back in China when they were apprehended (their producer and guide outran the guards). After being detained, Ling and Lee say they made every effort to limit the repercussions of their arrest. With guards right outside the room, they furtively destroyed evidence in their possession by swallowing notes and damaging videotapes. During rigorous, daily interrogation sessions, they protected sources and refused to reveal the names of their Chinese and Korean contacts. Of their time in captivity they reveal few details, noting: “the psychological wounds of imprisonment are slow to heal.” Instead, they write: “we would rather redirect this interest to the story we went to report on, a story about despairing North Korean defectors who flee to China only to find themselves living a different kind of horror.”

Los Angeles Times