Posted tagged ‘North Korea’

Laura Ling and Euna Lee Break Slience on Being Captive in North Korea

September 2, 2009

homecomingIn a joint-opinion piece in Monday’s LA Times entitled Hostages of the Hermit Kingdom, Laura Ling and Euna Lee break their nearly one-month silence since being freed from five months of captivity in the Juche-socialist republic of North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The two reporters were freed during a private humanitarian mission led by a important envoy, former United States President Bill Clinton to North Korea and its diminutive dictator, Kim Jong-Il.

Ling and Lee were captured on the morning of March 17th after crossing the Tumen River that separates North Korea from China. In the LA Times article, the women recount how they following their Korean-Chinese guide across the border to cover a story they were developing on human trafficking for Current TV.

When we set out, we had no intention of leaving China, but when our guide beckoned for us to follow him beyond the middle of the river, we did, eventually arriving at the riverbank on the North Korean side. He pointed out a small village in the distance where he told us that North Koreans waited in safe houses to be smuggled into China via a well-established network that has escorted tens of thousands across the porous border.
Feeling nervous about where we were, we quickly turned back toward China. Midway across the ice, we heard yelling. We looked back and saw two North Korean soldiers with rifles running toward us. Instinctively, we ran.
We were firmly back inside China when the soldiers apprehended us. Producer Mitch Koss and our guide were both able to outrun the border guards. We were not. We tried with all our might to cling to bushes, ground, anything that would keep us on Chinese soil, but we were no match for the determined soldiers. They violently dragged us back across the ice to North Korea and marched us to a nearby army base, where we were detained.

clintonenvoyThe two journalists were intentionally vague about describing details of their 140 days in captivity, citing memories too painful to recall at this present time. Instead of focusing on Pyongyang and offering a description of what they endured, the two reporters instead chose to shed light on the subject matter they intended to expose in the first place – the plight of North Korean defectors who live in terror of being deported back to their homeland and the lives they are forced to lead. The two reporters state that these lives often include involvement in illicit trades such as working as internet sex workers. Still they say that even this kind of life beats the impoverished and hungry existence defectors would have to look forward to if sent back to North Korea. In concluding their first statement since being released, Laura Ling and Euna Lee want to re-focus the world’s attention on the dangerous issues like this covered in Vanguard Journalism that they want to expose in the first place.

As an observer of the Laura Ling and Euna Lee Saga, I am left with several questions which I fear will go unanswered despite their article. How were they really treated during their 140-day confinement? What political and socio-economic impact will be produced long-term by President Clinton’s visit? Surely he and and the Kim Jon-Il regime didn’t discuss anything beyond freedom for these two reporters… 

Though not ‘official,’ Clinton’s private visit marks the closest North Korea has gotten to bilateral talks with the U.S.  in a long, long time. So what happened…  I guess time will tell but one thing’s for certain, inquiring minds want to know.

A Puppet Regime in North Korea?

September 10, 2008

According to the New York Post and citing American Intelligence sources, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il might have suffered a stroke several weeks ago. This is thought to explain why the enigmatic sixty-six year old dictator did not attend the 60th anniversary of North Korea on September 9. Kim Jong Il’s absence from such an event is highly unusual. After all, he has not missed an anniversary parade in Pyonyang for a long time now. But wait…

Is Kim Jong Il really gravely sick?

Not so fast says Japanese expert, Professor Shigemura. This North Korean relations expert purposes that Kim Jong Il actually died in 2003 and since then, North Korea has used his infamous body doubles to hide the death of the dictator from the world and keep the communist engine running! The use of body doubles is not uncommon for infamous dictators. Saddam Hussein had them as well. Both Kim Jong Il and Hussein have been known to have used them throughout the years to avoid assassination. Now if Kim Jong Il really is dead, this may be the first time that art really does imitate life.

Shigemura’s book, The True Character of Kim Jong-il, cites sources from inside North Korea and from the intelligence services of Japan and South Korea to explain this hypothesis.

Here are a few of the supporting arguments

  • North Korea’s policies have shifted dramatically in the past five years.
  • Studies of recent sightings of the Supreme Leader show that he has grown three inches since 2003.
  • A recording of Kim Jong’s voice during a 2004 meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi did not match earlier authenticated versions.

Of course this is truly sensationalistic reporting. But interesting nonetheless.

(L) Kim Jong double 2008 (R) King Jong IL in 2003

For more on this story, check out the links below.

  • Paxaless: Dead or Alive? The True Character of Kim Jong Il (click here)
  • Japanese Expert: North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Died in 2003 (click here)
  • NineMSN: Kim Jong Il dead since 2003: author (click here)