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Jun-08-2009 10:36printcommentsVideo

American Journalists Investigating Human Trafficking Sentenced to 12-Years in North Korean Gulag

One of the last nation's to hold onto hardcore Communism takes another step in the wrong direction.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee both work for Current TV.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee both work for Current TV.
Photo courtesy: Korean Herald

(SALEM, Ore.) - Two Asian/American journalists associated with former Vice President Al Gore have been sentenced to 12-years in North Korea's notorious prison camps. North Korean Communists charge that Laura Ling and Seung-eun Lee entered the country illegally and are spies.

Sources close to the two journalists say they didn't even enter North Korea, and that they were snatched by North Korean border guards while on Chinese soil.

The communist state claims they had entered the country illegally - allegations that have consistently been denied.

Pyongyang's Central Court, the equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court, tried the two journalists Laura Ling and Seung-eun or "Euna" Lee from June 4th to 8th and found them guilty, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. The Central Court's decisions are final and that means the reporters can't appeal the sentence.

The two journalists were employed by former Vice President Al Gore's California-based Current TV.

They were investigating human trafficking in March, focusing on the plight of defectors living along the China-North Korea border, when they were picked up by North Korean officials. Speculation is the only option when considering exactly how they were taken into custody

The Korean Herald reports that the conditions under which they were arrested remain under a shroud of secrecy.

Some analysts are suggesting that the women will likely see freedom long before 12 years pass, amid speculation that they are for the most part, bargaining chips in what amounts to a political standoff between the United States ane North Korea.

For those who are't completely familiar, tensions stemming from the Korean War in the 1950's have never really gone away. I know many people who have spent time at the "DMZ" or "Demilitarized Zone" and they say relations between the two Koreas are always tense.

One positive development that has increased in recent years, is the cooperative recovery efforts of fallen U.S. servicemen between the United States and North Korea. Of course that always represents U.S. money so perhaps the reasoning is simple.

Missile launches, political posturing, and decades of human rights violations under a pathetic form of Communism are the plagues of North Korea. Their infrastructure is by all accounts poor and their people live with far, far less than their neighbors in South Korea.

North Korea is the last bastion of sorts; the final holdout of a flawed political approach that has led to the starvation and ruthless slaughter of millions.

Communism over the years has better for some countries, and worse for others. The Afghan people for example, last knew peace under Communism. But, the eventual Soviet invasion and murder of over a million Afghans at the hands of the Russians would eventually steal any hint of Communist Party success.

Bearing that in mind, North Korea is one of the worst expressions of Marxist philosophy. It is a totalitarian regime with a rotten record.

And it is a fact that North Korea has been dealing with mounting international criticism over its recent May 25th nuclear test.

In fact this is what led U.S. President Barack Obama to signal a shift to a tougher line of policy towards the reclusive state, as the Korean Herald notes.

The White House has stated that U.S. President Barack Obama is "deeply concerned" about the American journalists receiving lengthy sentences. Obama says the American government iss using "all possible channels" to obtain their released. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed that Washington is in communication over the fate of the two journalists and she says the U.S. will continue to push for their release.

Former Vice-President Al Gore is staying on the sidelines of the tense issue. While there is no solid information, some sources suggest it is likely that negotiations are taking place between Gore and representatives of North Korean government.

This video report is from The Associated Press:


Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), the first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several other awards including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
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Lenora June 10, 2009 6:45 am (Pacific time)

At least they were charged and had a trial. If this happened here they would be tortured and imprisoned without due process. We have set our citizens up for this treatment abroad with the fascist laws that Bush and Cheney started here.

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