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Archive for the ‘A Sigh of Relief’ Category

On Wednesday, August 5th, the world let out an enormous sigh of relief when word spread that both reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee safely returned home after nearly 140 days in detainment.  Both reporters, working with Al Gore’s San Fransisco-based media outlet Current TV, accidentally crossed into North Korea from China’s border in March 2009.  After months of questioning, solitary confinement, and receiving sentences of twelve years in a work camp, former President Bill Clinton secured their amnesty and aided in their return to United States soil.

Read the rest of the story here (Reuters).

Tensions between the United States and North Korea has been on the brink for years.  North Korea continues to defy the world with its controversial nuclear program and missile tests that put South Korea, Japan, and other neighboring powers in danger.

The most recent confrontation has been with Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had their releases secured without any sort of nuclear negotiation with Washington (as far as we know).  Is this a sudden positive PR move on Kim Jong-Il’s part or is there a deeper political scheme at hand?

Regardless, two women should never become bargaining chips between two obstinate nations.  While we are overjoyed that these two ladies are finally home, their potential 12-year imprisonment would have been their death sentences.

Aside from the fact that North Korea is in a constant state of famine, the labor camps, also known as gulag camps, are notorious for beatings, executions, and rape.  Even though Laura Ling and Euna Lee were sentenced to twelve years of work at one of these camps, they would be lucky to even fulfill half of that sentence.

“They work logging in the mountains, quarrying stone and at farms. The work is extremely difficult and prisoners are beaten by guards for not working fast enough or forgetting to sing patriotic songs as they work,”

As stated before, these two young ladies became bargaining chips between two powers with very different aims.  Human beings should not be used and exchanged like currency, especially for political gain.  Thankful, both Laura Ling and Euna Lee have returned to their families.  Let’s just hope that they do not suffer ongoing dread of how their lives could have ended.

Additional Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=7785836&page=1

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/great-escape-survivors-reveal-horror-of-north-korean-concentration-camps-451351.html

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