Monday, March 30, 2009

굳세어라 Euna Lee & Laura Ling

I have been following the story about two American journalists that were detained in North Korea.

Notice the word American.

They are both women and both American, born and raised. They work for Current TV, whose homepage contains titles like "Simpsons mock the bailouts!!! LOL" and "Deleted "Twilight" Sex Scene." I don't see any mention of the fact that two of their employees are being held in a notoriously tight-lipped Communist country. That fact infuriates me.

Euna Lee, a Korean-American, and Laura Ling, a Chinese-American, traveled to South Korea and China with the goal of reporting about North Korea. They were at the border between North Korea and China at the time of their capture. The Korean Central News Agency, through the AP and the BBC:

"The illegal entry of US reporters into the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements," the KCNA said.

It said "a competent organ... is carrying on its investigation and, at the same time, making a preparation for indicting them at a trial on the basis of the already confirmed suspicions". [sic]

There is still some confusion as to exactly where the reporters were arrested.

South Korean television station YTN and unnamed diplomatic sources said that North Korean guards crossed the Tumen river into Chinese territory to arrest the journalists.

Pyongyang says the reporters crossed its border illegally.

They don't even know where these women were. No one will confirm and pinpoint a location. The United States' diplomacy is completely useless here. I mean that.
The US state department said a Swedish envoy acting on behalf of Washington, which has no diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, had visited the journalists for the first time over the weekend.
So ... let me get this straight. At the time of this BBC article, at 3:34 GMT on Tuesday, March 31, it is being stated that the journalists received their first diplomatic visitors over the weekend. Let's say that happened on Saturday, March 28.

The women were taken into North Korean custody on March 17. They didn't see anyone from their country until ELEVEN days after they were detained?? That utterly baffles me. How can they let two people sit in some North Korean detainment center for ELEVEN DAYS and not even send anyone post-haste?? How is that possible??

But, you know, it's going to be all right:
The United States says it is pursuing all diplomatic means available to secure the release of the two American women.

We know how well North Korea responds to diplomacy. They are some well-behaved diplomats, those North Koreans!

Reuters and the New York Times provides another angle to this story:
Peter Beck, a Korean affairs specialist at the American University in Washington, said the issue over the reporters could provide a means for Pyongyang and Washington to talk to each other.

Beck said he expected Stephen Bosworth, Washington's envoy for North Korea, to be dispatched in the weeks after the rocket launch to secure the release of the two women.

"After the test and some hand wringing, we (the United States) will grope our way back to table. But we really don't know if the North is serious about negotiating at this point. It looks like they aren't," he said.
Now the journalists are just pawns in the issue over the North Korean rocket launch? They're an excuse for Pyongyang and Washington to talk to each other? Why doesn't that disturb people?

I have heard so much about Chris Brown beating up Rihanna. I have seen several websites today talking about how Josh Hartnett went to the hospital. Many posts about Gisele and her feelings towards her new husband's ex-fiancee and baby.

Why isn't anyone talking about these two women that are being kept in North Korea? A country that, historically, has no qualms about killing whenever they feel like it?

I feel sickened and disheartened that these women have now been in custody for two weeks. I hope that they are not too frightened, that they are alive and well. I hope that they don't lose faith in their country, because that would just make their hours crawl that much slower.

Are these Americans being treated as "Americans"? Because they aren't white with blonde hair and blue eyes? Because they perhaps look as though they belong 'over there,' in the Korean peninsula or in China?

In this day and age, are there still second-class American citizens?

And does this mean that I am one, as well?


Amanda March 31, 2009 at 4:24 AM  

"They didn't see anyone from their country until ELEVEN days after they were detained??"

The way I read it, they still haven't seen anyone from their country; they've seen Swedes.

(If you're an American in DPRK, you're supposed to go to the Swedish Embassy for help.)

Diana March 31, 2009 at 9:07 AM  

I am also frustrated by the relative lack of shock and outrage over this incident. Although I think it has less to do with the ethnicity of these Americans than it does with their location and the obscurity of their news outlet. Were they Times reporters captured in Iraq or Afghanistan, we'd hear about it more. It's that America simply doesn't pay that much attention to that crazy hobbit Kim Jong Il.

But don't worry. That will all change this weekend when he incites a war with Japan and the US has to get involved.


I REALLY hope that this whole missile thing turns out to be a lot of buildup over nothing. Really, really hope...

jeanny March 31, 2009 at 10:20 AM  

Amanda, I actually read an article late last night that said that the meeting on 3/28 was with Swedish diplomats, not American. It sounded like they still haven't even talked to any Americans.

Diana- I KNOW!! On all fronts, I agree with you: lack of reaction, lack of action, possible BALLISTIC ROCKETS. Phooey.

There seems to be many conflicting reports about what's happening because it doesn't appear that anyone is actively pursuing and reporting on the story. That makes me so sad.

Trang June 8, 2009 at 1:01 AM  

As much as the American diplomats want to see the two detained journalists, they can't. Simply because they're not allowed to, that was why the Swedish diplomat has been the "messenger" between Laura Ling and Euna Lee and the U.S. But what I'm more shocked about is the fact that Al Gore has been quiet this whole entire time. And I'm beyond disappointed and disgusted that Laura and Euna have been sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp for their "crimes".

jeanny June 8, 2009 at 2:53 PM  

Trang, I agree. I cannot believe that Al Gore, who has marketed himself like crazy for "An Inconvenient Truth," is still not speaking out about this.

I am so appalled at my country over this.

concerned July 4, 2009 at 8:01 AM  

you're not a second class American citizen by virtue of being *a professional educated Asian female* in America.

The real second-class citizens are hard-working lower class minorities like Latinos and fresh-off-the-boat Asians who have sweated and worked years to get their citizenship.

On another note, North Korea's a time bomb. Any more western news coverage other than what we've seen would only provoke North korea to do something we'll regret. I'm sure there are negotiations done on a covert high security level.

jeanny July 8, 2009 at 4:24 PM  

Hi Concerned,

I hope you are right about North Korea.

As for being a second class citizen, my parents were part of that class of minorities that were fresh off the boat, toiling here for years before receiving their green cards. I don't take my status in this country lightly. Nor do I underestimate the amount of work my parents did in order for my sister and me to be the professional, educated Asian females that we are today.

Anonymous,  July 25, 2009 at 12:29 AM  

"Although I think it has less to do with the ethnicity of these Americans than it does with their location and the obscurity of their news outlet."

Ethnicity is the major reason for the lack of media coverage, and justifiably so. The Western World is majority Caucasian, and as such, the news media must cater to their preferences like any other for-profit business. A hypothetical situation of a Caucasian female reporter being detained in North Korea would result in absolute uproar and cause shockwaves throughout the USA. The obscurity of the DRPK news outlets would only further cause Western news sources to prod for information. We're just not seeing that in Lee & Ling's ordeal.