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Detained In North Korea: American Reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee

Updated on April 4, 2012
Euna Lee & Laura Ling: Bring Them Home
Euna Lee & Laura Ling: Bring Them Home

Detained in North Korea

 North Korea admitted that it has seized two American Journalists, Laura Ling and Eunu Lee for "illegally intruding" on North Korea's soil.  North Korean soldiers abdubted the reporters on the Chinese and Korean border.  The reporters were there working on a report about female refugees abducted by human traffickers for former Vice President Al Gore's San Francisco-based media outlet, Current TV.

Laura Ling is the sister of TV star Lisa Ling who is best known for her time on The View as well as CNN's A Planet In Peril. 

The Family Seeks Your Help

It is easy to hear a story like this, say that it is too bad, and move on. However, for me, this has hit home. I graduated High School with Laura Ling. I did not know her well but she is a smart and kind person. I know that her intentions were noble and that she should not be in the middle of an international crisis with her life on the line. I also know that the government at this time is not doing enough to bring her and Ms. Lee home safely. I also know that the media is not reporting this story enough and that awareness is key to their safe return.

There is a write in campaign and an online petition to help these women return home safely. The family is asking the community to help out by joining the Facebook group and to join the write in campaign. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Here is the on line petition:

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please do whatever you can to help. Thank you.

Update 4/16

North Korea has publicly stated that Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee are suspected of hostile acts. The two have been charged with spying and illegally crossing the border. If found guilty, the two will face a sentence of 5 to 10 years. Please do what you can to help.

Update 4/21

 Today there was a good write up on the Huffington Post.


See it here:

With all the talk about Roxana Saberi, the reporter who was sentenced to prison time in Iran, more focus on journalists abroad is being reported.  However, Ms. Lee and Ling are still not getting that much attention.


To all of those you have signed the petition:  thank you.

Current TV's Reaction

Update - April 30, 2009

There have been candlelight vigils around the Country to show support for Laura and Euna.

Laura Ling's Sister, Lisa Ling put out the following message:

"Dear Friends,
The families of Laura and Euna are inexplicably touched by your support of our girls. This has been an incredibly difficult time for us. Please understand that due to the extreme sensitivity of the case, it is vital for our families to stay quiet. Please know however, that when you are out there holding those candles, that we are there with you with fires lit in our hearts.
Most appreciatively yours,
Lisa Ling"

More help is needed. If you haven't, please sign the petition. If you have, thanks for your support.

Vigils Are Set For May 21st To Bring Attention To Their Continued Captivity
Vigils Are Set For May 21st To Bring Attention To Their Continued Captivity

Update May 19, 2009

There has been a lot of talk about Iran suddenly releasing Roxanna Saberi last week and this has help bring attention to Laura Ling and Euna Lee. However, there are been few formal overtures.

North Korea has set the trial date for June 4. Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee have been charged with "hostile acts."  If found guilty, they will each serve five years in prison.

There are candlelight vigils scheduled for May 21st in the following locations:

Chicago, IL.
Time: 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: Richard J. Daley Plaza
Street: W. Washington Street
City/Town: Chicago, IL

New York, NY.-
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2009
Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: Across the street facing 10 Rockefeller plaza (MSNBC BUILDING/Today Show)
Street: North side of 49th street between Rockefeller,Plaza & 6th Ave
City/Town: New York, NY

Orlando, FL.-

Time: 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Location: Baldwin Park
Street: New Broad Street - Across From Patty Murphy's
City/Town: Orlando, FL

Portland, OR.-
Time: 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Location: Patton Square Park
Street: N. Interstate Ave and Emerson ST
City/Town: Portland, OR

Los Angeles, CA.-
Time: 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Location: Meet: Stories Bookstore Back Patio, Vigil: Echo Park Lake, POST TBD
Street: 1716 Sunset Blvd.
City/Town: Los Angeles, CA

Let everyone know about them, please

Vigils and News Reports

Update - May 27, 2009

North Korea is now testing nuclear power and testing missles and rockets.  Laura Ling and Eunu Lee are still being held.  Swiss diplomats were allowed to meet with the women last week but all reports show that North Korea has every intention to put them on trial.

With all the talk about North Korea's nuclear program and some war drums banging in Washington, the family is obviously more worried.  Lisa Ling, Laura's sister, has taken over the Facebook group in order to bring some needed attention to this situation.

If you haven't, please sign the online petition.  More vigils are planned for June 3, the day before their trial is supposed to begin. 

Lisa Ling Has Broken Her Silence In Support Of Her Sister And Euna Lee
Lisa Ling Has Broken Her Silence In Support Of Her Sister And Euna Lee

Update - June 1, 2009

 Laura Ling and Euna Lee's trial is set for June 4th.  Today, the families broke their silence and are forced to plea with the government of North Korea and the United States to talk and resolve this situation.  With the escalation of North Korea's nuclear threat, the families are worried that North Korea will take a tougher stance against the reporters.

However, the women have been able to contact their families.  They were allowed to forward letters through the Swedish Diplomats and last week, Lisa Ling confirmed that she received a late night phone call frm her sister.

Again, if you haven't, please sign the peititoin to show support of Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee.  Thank you.

Update - June 4, 2009

The trial of Euna Lee and Laura Ling began today in North Korea.  There are no initial reports about what happened inside the Courtroom as the media and foreign dignitaries were barred from the Courtroom. The Swedish Ambassador, who communicates for the United States as North Korea and the United States have no diplomatic ties, reported that he was informed that nobody would be allowed in the Courtroom.  He was informed that Euna and Laura had a defense attorney but was refused his name.  He called the process an "opaque procedure."

If found guilty, the reporters will face ten years in a labor camp.  All reports state that if they are found guilty, Al Gore or Bill Richardson will be sent to negotiate their release. 

If you haven't already, please sign the petition.  Thank You.

Update - June 8, 2009

A North Korea "Court" just convicted Laura Ling and Euna Lee of "hostile acts" and have sentenced the Current TV reporters to twelve years of hard labor in a North Korean Labor Camp.  Twelve years is more than what was considered possible for the charges they faced.

The US State Department has put out a relesae that the United States is engaged "through all possible channels to secure their release." 

It was expected that North Korea would find the Laura Ling and Euna Lee guilty. They barred everyone from the "trial" that was conducted on Thursday.  The next step is for the US government to negotiate their release.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee Were Sentenced To 12 Years Hard Labor
Laura Ling and Euna Lee Were Sentenced To 12 Years Hard Labor

Update - June 10, 2009

Laura Ling and Euna Lee were convicted of "hostile acts" a few days ago and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. Since then there has been much talk about what is going to happen next. North Korea has now made affirmative threats to use nuclear weapons offensively. There is talk that either Bill Richardson or Al Gore may go to North Korea to negotiate their release.

The families are understandably upset. They are asking for the public for support and sign another petition to be sent directly to the Obama Administration. Please sign the petition. Thank you.

Update - June 17, 2009

With all the attention on Iran right now, Laura Ling and Euna Lee are not getting much press attention right now. Of course, neither is North Korea. This would be a good time to negotiate.

Euna Lee's alma mater, the Academy of Art University, has created a petition as well calling for the immediate release of Lee and Ling. Please sign this petition as well.

Euna Lee With Her Family.
Euna Lee With Her Family.

Update - June 20, 2009

North Korea is now informing the world what "crimes" were committed by Euna and Laura. North Korea claims that the reporters were gathering video footage to engage in a smear campaign against North Korea. North Korea claims the reporters admitted these charges.

Please note, the reporters where in China to report on the plight of North Korean refugees.

WIth all the talk of revolution in Iran, this story has been buried on the major networks. However, on June 19, 2009 their story was discussed on Real Time With Bill Maher. They discussed whether there would be more news coverage of this story if Euna and Laura were blond or worked for a big network. An interesting discussion but more importantly, more exposure to a different crowd to bring this situation to a resolution.

Vigils are planned for July 9th in San Francisco and Sacramento.
Vigils are planned for July 9th in San Francisco and Sacramento.

Update July 7, 2009

North Korea is still in the news but little is mentioned about Laura Ling and Euna Lee. North Korea is in the news for firing SCUD types missiles on the fourth of July. With all the talk about Michael Jackson, the news has little room for anything else.

However, an interesting article has surfaced in the Herald de Paris, as originally published on The reporter was a friend of Michael Jackson's. Apparently, Mr. Jackson had been following the Euna and Laura story and inquired whether the reporter thought North Korea's leader was a fan. According to the story, if North Korea's leader was a fan, Michael Jackson might be able to something to help. Unfortunately, Jackson died but at least he was thinking about Euna and Laura.

Vigils are planned for July 9, 2009 in San Francisco and Sacramento. The Sacramento Vigil is at 6:30 in front of the State Capital.

More details can be found on the Facebook page.

Update July 9, 2009

There are numerous vigils scheduled for tomorrow. There are vigils scheduled in Sacramento, San Francisco, Paris, Washington D.C. and Phoenix.

Span of Crowd At Sacramento Vigil

Update July 10, 2009 - Vigil for Laura Ling and Euna Lee

Yesterday, July 9th, vigils were held across the Country for Laura Ling and Euna Lee. They were held in Washington D.C., San Francisco and Sacramento. There was even a vigil held in Paris, France.

I personally attended the vigil in Sacramento on the West Steps of the State Capital. There was a fairly large turnout, around two hundred people, that include members of the Ling family, including husband Ian and sister Lisa, friends former classmates and those who wanted to show support for the detained reporters. Members of the California Assembly and Senate Spoke as well as local politicians.

The most touching moments came with Cheryl and Takoa, two classmates and long time friends of Laura spoke. They shared stories of good times from their youth through adulthood. Laura Ling's husband Ian also spoke as did Lisa Ling

The most striking thing to me was Lisa Ling sharing that her sister now "admits" that the two broke Korean law and need Amnesty to be released. The purpose of the vigils was to pressure the Obama administration into formally requesting Amnesty. Given what we know, I doubt the two really admitted anything voluntarily, but apparently this is what needs to be done to have them released.

Now there are news reports claiming that the two have not yet been sent to prison but are staying in a home somewhere in North Korea. There are also reports that Al Gore has volunteered to part of an envoy to bring the girls home.

If you haven't, please sign one of the petitions to send the girls home. Thank You.

Picture of vigil for Laura Ling and Euna Lee in Santa Monica, California.
Picture of vigil for Laura Ling and Euna Lee in Santa Monica, California.

Update July 11, 2009

 Fox News is reporting that according to a "scholar" North Korea is very close to releasing Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  The scholar believes that all that has to be done first is that the United States must formally acknowledge the "hostile acts" committed by the two Current TV reporters.  The new stance exhibited by the families and the Hilary Clinton stating that "everybody is sorry" is perhaps the first steps towards this end.

In recent interviews, Lisa Ling has spoken about the most recent telephone call with her sister whe she claims Laura Ling admitted to committing the crimes alleged against her.  Ling also detailed that her sister give her instructions on how this can end which may come from the North Korean government itself. 

Thanks for everyone who has signed the petitions and if you haven't please do so.  The more public support shown will only help the two reporters come home sooner.

Santa Monica Vigil
Santa Monica Vigil

Update July 22, 2009

 A large vigil was held in Chicago yesterday.  Over 700 people attended.

A South Korean newspaper is reporting that the United States and North Korea has started "delicate negotiations" on the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  This is after the family and Secretary of State Clinton made requests for amnesty and claiming that the two reporters "admitted" their wrongdoing.

Euna Lee With Her Daughter
Euna Lee With Her Daughter

Update July 28, 2009

North Korea and the United States have been trading barbs over the media in the last few days as the countries still "talk" about a number of issues including the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Yet, there has been no improvement in their status.

Reports tell that the two are being held in a medical detention facility. Apparently Laura Ling's ulcer condition has worsened and Euna Lee is suffering from abdominal pain. If North Korea wanted to show the world that they can truly act like a modern power, they should just release the two reporters unconditionally on humanitarian grounds. However, given that the North Korean government doesn't treat its own citizens humanely, it is doubtful they could ever come to a sane conclusion.

There was a wonderful and powerful article written by Mollika Chopra who is a close friend of the Lee family. The article focuses on Euna Lee's four year old daughter Hanna and the pain this mess has caused her and Euna's husband. To all the mom's out there, unite behind this mother who has been taken away from her only child too long.

The family is now appealing to Michelle Obama for help. To press her husband for amnesty. And to use her power and charisma to bring light to this story. They must come home soon.

Hopefully President Clinton Can Negotiate An End To This Saga And Bring Laura And Euna Home
Hopefully President Clinton Can Negotiate An End To This Saga And Bring Laura And Euna Home
Bill Clinton Was Warmly Received In North Korea To Negotiate Laura & Euna's Release: Photo Courtesy Of
Bill Clinton Was Warmly Received In North Korea To Negotiate Laura & Euna's Release: Photo Courtesy Of

Update August 3, 2009

North Korea has confirmed that former President Bill Clinton has arrived in North Korea to negotiate the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  Despite the growing tensions between North Korea and the United States, coupled with North Korea's seizure of a South Korean ship last week, Clinton was reportedly warmly welcomed to North Korea.

This is the first true sign of hope in this horrible ordeal.  Hopefully Bill Clinton can appeal to North Korea's sense of humanity, and the two reporters can return home to their families.

Clinton's Mission Worked: Laura & Euna Will Be Home Soon
Clinton's Mission Worked: Laura & Euna Will Be Home Soon

Laura Ling & Euna Lee Free At Last

The North Korean President has ordered a special pardon releasing Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Former President Bill Clinton went on a special mission to North Korea yesterday putting his reputation on the line in order to negotiate their release. Not too many details are known as to the conditions, but they have been released and will be home to their families soon.

The Picture We All Wanted To See
The Picture We All Wanted To See

They Are Home And Safe

For a few days the news showed nothing but Laura and Euna's arrival at Burbank Airport in California.  Many in the media, well the right, remarked how Bill Clinton's mission was a mistake because it gave North Korea legitimacy.  However, looking at Hana hugging her mother and the Ling sisters hugging, makes the trip worthwhile.  Laura and Euna are home safe with their families, the ending everyone wanted to see.

Euna and Laura have released a thank you via Current TV.  It is the link attached.  However, for those who followed their story here and who signed the petition on their behalf, I thank you as well.


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    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for the comment and the link.

    • profile image

      Academy of Art University 

      10 years ago

      Euna Lee is a 2001 graduate of the Academy of Art University. We have compiled an online petition to call for the immediate release of Euna Lee and Laura Ling. Please join us by adding your name:

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thank you so much.

    • Silver Freak profile image

      Silver Freak 

      10 years ago from The state of confusion


    • LondonGirl profile image


      10 years ago from London

      poor girls, hope they are released soon and safely

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thank you very much, every person that does a little something helps. Thanks for your efforts.

    • Hawkesdream profile image


      10 years ago from Cornwall

      Will go and help, hopefully and collectivelly we'll bring them home

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for your efforts.

    • RKHenry profile image


      10 years ago from Neighborhood museum in Somewhere, USA

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I'm on my way to do what I can. Journalism is a dangerous occupation and has been for many years now. It is time to put an end to this type of violence on reports. They need some sort of shield, like the UN peace keepers have. Terrible. I'm real sorry to hear this. Real sorry.


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