laura ling and euna lee tell the story of their capture

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two American journalists who were released last month after being imprisoned in North Korea, speak out and tell the story of their capture, as well as the story they were covering that brought them to China in the first place: Hostages of the Hermit Kingdom.

They were covering the grim story of human trafficking out of North Korea. Prior to their capture, they interviewed several Korean defectors -- women who had fled poverty and repression in North Korea, only to find themselves working in the online sex industry or forced into arranged marriages.

They go into some detail about their experience, led by a local Korean Chinese guide, briefly crossing the border from China into North Korea to document a well-used trafficking route and chronicle how the smuggling operations worked. Shortly after turning back to the other side, they were apprehended by North Korea soldiers with rifles. I found this interesting:
In the days before our capture, our guide had seemed cautious and responsible; he was as concerned as we were about protecting our interview subjects and not taking unnecessary risks. That is in part why we made the decision to follow him across the river.

We didn't spend more than a minute on North Korean soil before turning back, but it is a minute we deeply regret. To this day, we still don't know if we were lured into a trap. In retrospect, the guide behaved oddly, changing our starting point on the river at the last moment and donning a Chinese police overcoat for the crossing, measures we assumed were security precautions. But it was ultimately our decision to follow him, and we continue to pay for that decision today with dark memories of our captivity.

After we were detained, the two of us made every effort to limit the repercussions of our arrest. In the early days of our confinement, before we were taken to Pyongyang, we were left for a very brief time with our belongings. With guards right outside the room, we furtively destroyed evidence in our possession by swallowing notes and damaging videotapes. During rigorous, daily interrogation sessions, we took care to protect our sources and interview subjects. We were also extremely careful not to reveal the names of our Chinese and Korean contacts, including Chun. People had put their lives at risk by sharing their stories, and we were determined to do everything in our power to safeguard them.
They don't elaborate much into the details of their imprisonment -- it's still apparently a painful memory for them, which is understandable. That story will come out, eventually. Instead, they'd prefer to redirect the high-profile attention on their experience to the desperate plight of these North Korean defectors, and the activists and relief organizations that are trying to help them. Read it all, in their own words, here.

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