did laura ling and euna lee endanger north korean refugees/activists?

It's been a few weeks since journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling returned home safe and reunited with their families, after spending 140 days in a North Korean prison. While I was relieved to see them return, there are others who will not be so lucky. There's a hard truth behind the story of their ordeal -- the many lives that were placed in danger when Laura and Euna were caught.

Now, in South Korea, there's a very vocal movement of human rights advocates, bloggers and Christian pastors who are accusing the journalists of needlessly endangering the people whose stories brought them to the area in the first place: North Korean refugees and the activists who help them: In South Korea, Freed U.S. Journalists Come Under Harsh Criticism.

Many fear that the notes and videotapes Euna and Laura gathered in China before their ill-fated venture to the border fell into the hands of authorities, potentially compromising the identities of refugees and activists dedicated smuggling people out of North Korea:
The Rev. Lee Chan-woo, a South Korean pastor, said the police raided his home in China on March 19, four days after the journalists visited and filmed a secret site where he looked after children of North Korean refugee women. He said that he was then deported in early April and that his five secret homes for refugees were shut down. The children, he said, were dispersed to family members in China, who could not afford to take care of them.

"The Chinese cited scenes from films confiscated from the journalists when they interrogated me," said Mr. Lee, 70. As evidence of the ordeal, he provided documents he said the Chinese police gave him after the raid.

"The reporters visited our place with a noble cause," he added. "I did my best to help them. But I wonder how they could be so careless in handling their tapes and notebooks. They should have known that if they were caught, they would suffer for sure, but also many others would be hurt because of them."

The Rev. Chun Ki-won, the chief pastor of the Durihana Mission that Mr. Lee works with, said that two of the women interviewed by the American journalists fled China after being told about the arrests, frightened of being repatriated to North Korea and put in labor camps. Another interviewee was still on the run in China, he said.

"We could not find out whether they filmed any other refugees we don't know of," Mr. Chun said. "If that's the case, we have to find them, provided it's not too late already. But the American reporters are not talking to us."
Unfortunately, many of the details of Laura and Euna's reporting are still a mystery. The journalists haven't readily revealed details about the story they were working on, or the circumstances under which they were captured.

However, a spokesman from CurrentTV says that many of the details in the pastors' accounts aren't correct, and differ from Laura and Euna's version of what happened. I'm hoping that in due time, we'll get to hear about the entire ordeal, in the reporters' own words.

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