Ling Sisters Recount Laura's Capture In North Korea After journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were detained in North Korea in 2009, Laura's sister, fellow journalist Lisa Ling, worked tirelessly to bring them home. In a conversation with contributor Dave Davies, the sisters detail the incident that ended with former President Bill Clinton bringing them home.
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Ling Sisters Recount Laura's Capture In North Korea

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Ling Sisters Recount Laura's Capture In North Korea

Ling Sisters Recount Laura's Capture In North Korea

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross.

Last year, American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were working on a documentary on the border between China and North Korea when they were taken prisoner by North Korean soldiers.

They were held for five months at a time when North Korea's nuclear program was heightening tensions with the United States. While Laura Ling was being held, her sister Lisa was in the United States, working frantically to secure her release.

The two sisters have a new book, which details Laura's brutal capture, as well as her interrogation and trial in North Korea and Lisa's quick emersion into the world of diplomacy with one of the most politically isolated countries on Earth.

I spoke to them recently about their book, called "Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home."

Laura Ling, Lisa Ling, welcome to FRESH AIR. Laura, let me start with you. Describe the story that you were looking for when you traveled to the Chinese-Korean border.

Ms. LAURA LING (Journalist; Co-author, "Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home"): Well, Dave, we were covering a story about North Korean defectors, people who are fleeing the very desperate conditions in North Korea: mass starvation, very a brutal dictatorship. And they are crossing over into China.

Now, many of these defectors are women, and many of these women are trafficked into really horrendous situations in neighboring China. They are forced into marriages, they are lured into the prostitution industry, and because China does not regard North Korean defectors as refugees, they will send them back across the border to North Korea if they are caught.

And that means that these people face certain punishment. They will be sent to North Korea's notorious labor camps and possibly face torture or worse. That's the story that I was trying to bring to light for Current TV.

DAVIES: Now, you were there with Euna Lee, an editor and producer with you, and Mitchell Koss, a producer and cameraman, right?

Ms. LAURA LING: That's right.

DAVIES: Now, did the Chinese know you were there as journalists?

Ms. LAURA LING: They didn't. We were traveling as tourists. As I said, this is a story that the Chinese government - it's a sensitive story, and, you know, oftentimes, the decision is made to either travel officially as journalists or as tourists.

And traveling officially in China means that you are approved by the government, and you have a media entity with you at all times. And it's a story that we felt could be best told as tourists, as well as to protect the people that we were interviewing, as well.

DAVIES: You know, one of the most interesting parts of the story comes in the opening pages, and that involves the guide who was with you to take you to this border region, and his behavior in getting you to the border and his conduct at the border seemed pretty peculiar. Tell us what happened.

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, this is a guide that we had hired, a fixer, and foreign journalists who are working overseas often hire what we call fixers, local guides in the area who have worked with other media entities before, to help them with the story.

And this was a man who we had hired who had previously seemed very cautious, and he there were some actions that, in retrospect, were suspicious. While we were on the ice, we were filming. We went to the river to film the thoroughfare where North Koreans are crossing into China. It was never our intention when we were there that morning, to cross the river.

DAVIES: This is the Tumen River that separates Korea and China, right?

Ms. LAURA LING: That's correct. And, you know, our guide began making some low hooting noises across the border. Now, previously, our guide had told us that he had connections in North Korea. Our guide was involved in smuggling goods himself. And so in my mind, I thought he was trying to make a connection with some of the border guards that he knew.

He said that in the past, he had taken some media to actually converse with some of these border guards on the other side, and he continued to walk closer to the North Korean side of the river.

And he got to the other side, stepped foot on the soil and motioned for us to follow him, which we did. We ended up on the other side of the border, and he pointed out a village off in the distance where he said there were some safe houses where defectors are kept until they're ready to be smuggled across the border.

And really it was about that time. We were not on the soil for more than a minute, before we knew we had to leave. And that's when we turned back and walked back across the ice to the Chinese side.

DAVIES: So when you approached the Chinese-Korean border here, at the Tumen River, you had no plan to actually cross into North Korea.

Ms. LAURA LING: Absolutely not.

DAVIES: In any case, you and two other journalists, now, having planned to approach the North Korean border, find that you have crossed this frozen river, set foot on North Korean soil for a minute or so, and then start back. But then trouble comes when you encounter North Korean guards. What happened?

Ms. LAURA LING: I heard soldiers yelling from behind me. I turned around, and there were two North Korean soldiers running across the ice toward us with their rifles in their hands, pointed in the air.

And I just ran for my life. I ran as fast as I could. I reached the Chinese side, and literally I could not feel my feet being able to run anymore after being on the Chinese soil for a few moments, and I fell to the ground.

Euna, who was behind me, as she was approaching me, she stopped to help me, and within seconds, the two North Korean soldiers were above us with their rifles pointed at us. They then were determined to get us back across the ice to North Korea.

The one above me was particularly fierce. He kicked me in the head, in the shoulder a number of times while I was on the Chinese soil and then again on the ice. And then at one point he raised his rifle, and I saw the butt of his rifle headed for me.

I thought that that could be the end of my life, and he then proceeded to strike my head with the butt of the rifle, and that's when I blacked out on the ice.

DAVIES: So Laura Ling, you were, after this encounter with North Korean guards at the border, were taken to North Korea. What kind of places were you taken to, initially?

Ms. LAURA LING: Along the border, we were taken to several army posts. These were very rudimentary areas, just kind of dirt clearings. And inside these army posts, there were a series of bunk bed with, you know, very thin, stained mattresses, no electricity whatsoever, very I couldn't spot any real signs of technology in the first few locations where we were taken.

Eventually, we were brought to a jail and placed in a cell, separately. The cell was about five by six feet, metal door with no if they there were a couple of slats on the doors where a guard could peer in and shine his flashlight, but when those slats were closed, it was completely pitch black, concrete floor, a wooden pallet with a couple of blankets to sleep on, very, very dismal conditions.

DAVIES: Right, now to clarify, there were three of you that approached the border. Mitch Koss, your producer and cameraman, managed to get away, get back to China, but you and your editor and producer Euna Lee were captured. She was fluent in Korean. So you were able, the two of you, I guess, to communicate. What did you tell your captors?

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, when we were initially caught, Euna had told our captors that we were students, we were working on a documentary, that we were film students, and we were working on a piece about the border region and trade in the region.

We knew that the subject we were covering, North Koreans fleeing these horrible conditions in their country, was not going to be looked upon well by our captors. And so we were hoping that while we were still on the border, we might be able to convince them to send us back across the border to China. And that became very clear, after about 24 hours, that that was not going to happen and that we would have to tell them that we were journalists.

DAVIES: And you had materials on you, which could have put some of your people - put some of your sources in jeopardy, right?

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, the materials that we had on us - we were very careful when we filmed in China because we knew that this was a very sensitive story. So I have pictures on a still camera, for example, that had the backs of the heads of some of the interviewees who we spoke with in China. But even so, I didn't want to take that risk of them seeing this material.

So for a brief moment, we were left with our belongings. I proceeded to delete some of these pictures. Euna, on one of her videotapes, had an interview that I had conducted with a defector. Again, it only showed the bottom half of his body, and the locations in which we shot them were far from where these people actually lived, but we didn't want to take any chances. And so we proceeded to destroy this evidence, as well as eating some of the notes that I had in a small notebook.

DAVIES: You ate notes?

Ms. LAURA LING: Yes, yeah.

DAVIES: We're speaking with Laura and Lisa Ling. Their new book is called "Somewhere Inside." We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: If you're just joining us, our guests are Laura and Lisa Ling. They've written a new book about Laura's period of captivity as a journalist in North Korea and her sister Lisa's efforts to free her. Their book is called "Somewhere Inside."

Now, because one of the three of you who were on this project managed to get back to China, they were able to get word to your families that you had been captured in North Korea, which takes us to your end of the story, Lisa Ling.

When you heard that Laura had been detained in North Korea, who did you call?

Ms. LISA LING: Well, I got a call at 2:30 in the morning on March 17th from my brother-in-law, Laura's husband, Ian(ph), and the first thing he said was, Laura has been abducted by North Korean border guards.

And that just sent a complete shock through my system, because Laura - there was never any intention to go anywhere near North Korea. Their assignment was to go to China and to South Korea - so we were shocked. I knew the story that they were covering, but I didn't think that they were going to really get close to North Korea.

So Ian and I, immediately - I had Ian call our parents because we needed our mother to make contact with Chinese authorities in China, and she's proficient in Mandarin, and I just started calling everyone in the diplomatic world that I knew.

One of my first calls was to Richard Holbrooke, who is the U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and the most senior diplomat I know. And I wanted to get word to Secretary of State Clinton that this was happening. And one of the first calls that we also made was to the chairman of Current TV, Laura's employer, Vice President Al Gore, because we felt like if this was going to become the international incident that we thought it could, we needed Vice President Gore to help us.

DAVIES: Now, because you're both journalists who have worked in national and international stories, you had contacts in the government and in the media, and of course, Laura's employer, as you said, was Current TV, who - one of its top executive was Vice President Gore.

So one of the interesting parts of the story on your end, I thought, Lisa, was that you talked to Vice President Gore, who was enormously helpful - gave you contact information, said that he would do what he could. You also had heard that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson had been on similar humanitarian missions in North Korea, managed to reach out to him. He also contacted you. But they had very different takes on how to approach this. What did they tell you?

Ms. LISA LING: Well, from the get go, Vice President Gore and members from the State Department who had been advising us had strongly suggested that we keep things very, very quiet. And that was very understandable because we didn't know exactly what happened to Laura and Euna.

So we were also fearing that the North Koreans might do something drastic. I mean, this is a highly, highly unpredictable regime. The story that Laura and Euna were covering was a very, very sensitive one. So before knowing anything, we just thought we should maintain silence.

But I just started to reach out to as many contacts as I could, and one of the people who is most closely associated with U.S.-North Korea relations, is Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson. He, of all American - of any American -has had the most successes in negotiating the releases of previous American detainees in North Korea. So he was a natural, sort of, connection to make.

And he was incredibly helpful from the start, and told me that he would start making contacts with the State Department and his contacts in North Korea. And a couple of days into our conversations, he was actually approached by President Obama and Secretary Clinton, and asked to actually help on our behalf.

DAVIES: It struck me as interesting that they had very different views about whether it would be helpful to get the Chinese government involved.

Ms. LISA LING: Yes. Vice President Gore wanted to try and get the Chinese government to help us with this situation, because China is has been considered North Korea's biggest ally.

Governor Richardson, on the other hand, who had dealt with North Korea for many, many years, was vehemently against involving China; because he said that the North Koreans loathe having to deal with the six-party talks and having to use China as a go-between in communication with the United States. And what the North Koreans have been wanting for many years, is to have a direct line to the United States.

The U.S. and North Korea have no diplomatic relationship. So they only communicate through a third-party country in Sweden, or through the six-party talks or from a humanitarian mission that they have in New York. But other than that, communication is next to zero.

And according to Governor Richardson, the North Koreans have been trying to ignite a kind of direct relationship with the United States, and they'd be insulted if China were asked to get involved.

DAVIES: Meanwhile, Laura Ling, you were in Korea and were in these border regions in very, very Spartan conditions. I mean, you said there's virtually no signs of technology at all. But eventually, it becomes apparent to your captors that they have an American journalist here, that this is important, and they send you to the capital, Pyongyang. Tell us about that journey and how it changed the way you were treated.

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, they once we were transferred to Pyongyang, Euna and I were separated. So from that moment on, I was by myself, and I was placed in a compound in Pyongyang. The conditions were basic, but they were improved from that jail along the border.

I had a I was in a bedroom with a real bed, an adjoining bathroom and an area where there were two guards at all times who could look in on me. Of course, this is North Korea, and there were frequent power outages and water outages, but my treatment did change, and I was treated fairly.

One of the things that was quite damaging to my situation in the beginning was the fact that my sister had been to North Korea before and had worked on a documentary for National Geographic Television that was quite critical of the North Korean regime.

So on top of everything, here, I was confronted with these very irate North Korean authorities who knew about Lisa's work in North Korea, which only compounded the situation.

DAVIES: Right, and you tried you were hoping that they might not make that connection. It seems that they did pretty quickly.

Ms. LAURA LING: I was. They asked for my family history, and I had to decide what to write. They asked for all of my immediate relatives' names and professions. But I knew that in Pyongyang they had access to technology and the Internet, and a simple Internet search would reveal Lisa's profession.

So I wrote her name, and I said that she was a correspondent, but I didn't write for whom. I didn't say that she worked for the Oprah Winfrey show or had done work for National Geographic, CNN and elsewhere.

Ms. LISA LING: And that was something that was so the complexities involved were so surreal and just wild. I mean, when I first heard that Laura was being held captive in North Korea, one of my first fears was that they would associate her with me, because the documentary that I worked on for National Geographic was incredibly critical.

And during Laura and Euna's captivity, we had a brand new president, in Barack Obama, brand new secretary of state - high-profile secretary of state in Hillary Clinton. The tensions on the Korean peninsula had been worsening and becoming increasingly more severe, and some say that it was one of the low points in U.S.-North Korea relations.

So all of these things were happening while my sister was somewhere inside the most secretive country on Earth.

DAVIES: And, of course, Laura initially told her captors the lie, that she was a college student working on a piece about trade between along the border of China and Korea - eventually has to own up to being a journalist, and now they discover that in fact, she's part of a family that did a story in an international broadcast outlet that was very critical of the regime. It's a real jam to be in, wasn't it, Laura?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, the phrasing that the interrogator - my interrogator -used, the question he posed to me was, are you and your sister trying to bring down the North Korean government? And I was faced with having to answer that question.

DAVIES: Journalists Laura and Lisa Ling's new book is called "Somewhere Inside." They'll be back in the second half of the show. I'm Dave Davies, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross.

Back with journalists Laura and Lisa Ling. Laura was captured by North Korean soldiers last year while working on a documentary at the Chinese border and held captive for five months. Back in the United States, her sister Lisa worked to secure her release. Theyve written a new book about the experience called Somewhere Inside.

So Laura, then there was a period of many, many weeks where you were held in this holding facility in Pyongyang the capital - and had daily interrogations by this gentleman that you call Mr. Yee(ph), long and intense interrogations. What did they want you to say?

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, they interrogated me about everything. They wanted to know about my work history, all the past assignments that I've done, the current piece that I was working on for Current TV. And - but I knew what they were really getting at and that was that Mr. Yee wanted me to confess to having motives of bringing down the North Korean regime. It was really less about the fact that we had trespassed into North Korea than the hostile intentions of trying to bring down the North Korean government. And so, I was faced with this decision of making this confession.

Now, in my mind, I mean, I understood that working on a story about defectors, in the eyes of the North Korean government they see that as a threat to their government. And with my sister's involvement in the documentary and everything else that was going on, I made the decision to make that confession that I did have hostile intentions against the North Korean government. I knew that that's what they wanted to hear and I hoped that if they felt that I was regretful about my actions, that they would offer forgiveness and let me go, which is what my interrogator had indicated could happen if I confessed.

DAVIES: So, you did sign a multipage confession, right, with fingerprints on every page.


DAVIES: And then you discover after that you are to go to trial, right?

Ms. LAURA LING: Thats right. I was given a trial date and a week before the trial date I was assigned a defense attorney if you can call him that. I mean, I had already written a confession, a signed confession, and here I was being offered a defense attorney who sat with me for an hour max, asking me questions really unrelated to the case at hand. And really he was more of an extension of the prosecution I saw than a defense attorney.

DAVIES: And what happened at the trial?

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, the trial was, the trial was a bit similar to the investigation, asking similar questions about motives and me making a verbal confession. I had tried to prepare myself for a lengthy sentence and - but really nothing could prepare me for the verdict when I heard the words 12 years. And it was after the judge said 12 years, he said, no forgiveness, no appeal. And that really cut into me because all along I had been hoping that there might be the opportunity for an appeal, despite a long sentence. And I was wondering if those words meant that the window of opportunity had closed and my fate was sealed.

DAVIES: And when we say 12 years, we mean 12 years where?

Ms. LAURA LING: Twelve years in a hard labor camp in North Korea. These are the notorious gulags that we hear about.

DAVIES: Yeah, what do you know about conditions at those camps?

Ms. LAURA LING: Really, I mean just the most wretched conditions. There are a couple hundred thousand there an estimated couple hundred thousand political prisoners in these camps. Finding food is difficult and people are performing back-breaking work, many of whom are tortured.

DAVIES: You know, I can imagine some people listening to the story that might be thinking, well, this is certainly very unfortunate, but an American journalist captured in North Korea has to know that sooner or later they're going to get to come home, that they're going to be a pawn in some diplomatic game but their not going to get sent to a labor camp. And, you know, and today, its a year later and you certainly sound very composed. Tell us a little though about your mental and emotional state at the time. What - you know, what real fears you experienced and how it affected you.

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, I did try to maintain hope throughout most of that time. And, as you said, you know, I didnt know if they would in fact send us to a camp. But North Korea is also one of the most unpredictable countries in the world with a history of duplicity and everybody you speak to is very vehement about their speaks very vehemently about their anger toward the United States. So, while I tried to remain hopefully, there were obviously those days when I fell into a depression and worried that they might actually send us to a camp.

DAVIES: You know, and Laura, I just have to think that this episode began with such a savage physical beating that that had to have affected the way you perceived it all.

Ms. LAURA LING: It did. I was so frightened after that incident, that while I said that our treatment my treatment was fair, I never knew if that could change at any moment because of what had happened.

DAVIES: We're speaking with Lisa and Laura Ling. Their new book is called Somewhere Inside. Well talk more after a short break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: If youre just joining us, our guests are journalists Laura and Lisa Ling. Theyve written an account of Lauras captivity in North Korea and Lisas efforts to secure her freedom. Its called Somewhere Inside.

Well, Laura Ling, so youre in Korea - North Korea going on four months. Youve been through interrogations. Youve made a confession. You have been convicted at trial and sentenced to 12 years hard labor. But you have some medical problems and have been at a medical facility and have been allowed some carefully controlled phone conversations with your relatives back in the United States. And then at some point it seems your captors began to give you an idea that there's a way out of this. How was this communicated to you?

Ms. LAURA LING: Right. Well, I knew that they were wanting an envoy to come to our aid. It was just a matter of who. And...

DAVIES: An American envoy to come to North Korea, you mean? Yes. Yeah.

Ms. LAURA LING: Thats correct. And the way the North Koreans work is that they are very indirect. I even asked them, just - I said, just tell me who you want and I will try my best when I communicate with my sister. And they said, we can't tell you who, that would be a violation of your human rights. And he was very serious when he said that.

And so, trying to figure out who the right envoy was going to be was extremely hard. It was like deciphering a puzzle. One day I tried to bring up the name of the chairman of my company, Current TV, Vice President Al Gore again, and I said, you know, Vice President Gore is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He is one of the most respected post-political figures in the world. He would be I know that he would be willing to come here.

But Vice President Gore was not sufficient for them because he was the chairman of our company and he was just an extension, they saw, of Current TV. So at one point, one of the officials said, well, why dont we just cut off the vice and go for president? And at that moment I just - I said to him, sir, with all due respect, if you think that President Obama is going to get on a plane and come here youre mistaken and you might as well send me to a labor camp right now. And he said, well, I'm not taking about the current president. What about past presidents? And thats when President Bill Clinton's name came up.

DAVIES: Right. And, of course, Jimmy Carters name was in the mix at some point. I mean, you were wondering maybe he would work. And then, Lisa, of course, it was you in your occasional and carefully managed phone conversations with Laura from North Korea that this was communicated. What was it like on your end trying to figure out what they wanted?

Ms. LISA LING: Well, I couldnt believe that the names of some of the most well-known political figures in America were even being spewed. I mean, President Carter, President Clinton, even Vice President Gore. And I didnt, I couldnt definitively determine whether these were Lauras suggestions or whether these were coming from the mouths of her captors. All I could do was just trust. I mean, Laura and I are best friends. We know each other better than we even know ourselves and so at a certain point I had to just trust that what she was saying was what I had to try and execute.

So when she brought up the two former presidents, Carter and Clinton, even though in my past experience in North Korea, I had heard that the North Koreans harbor a high regard for President Clinton, I immediately discounted him because he is married, after all, to the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And even though I had some concerns about Carter as a request, I just thought, you know, lets just go for it. Lets just ask and see if he would agree to go and he did.

DAVIES: And then Laura, on your end in North Korea, what was the reaction of your captors when it sounded like your conversation with your sister was going in the direction of getting Jimmy Carter to come to North Korea as an envoy?

Ms. LAURA LING: Right. Well, I mean, I was thrilled. I had requested President Carter and Clinton and had received some indication that - from a letter that I received from my family that President Carter had agreed to come, so I was overjoyed. Well, that changed when I received a visit from one of the officials who basically berated me for requesting President Carter, even though he was the person who had been in the room indicating that former President Carter was going to be a sufficient envoy. So it was hugely confusing and depressing for me after knowing that President Carter had been approved to go, that this was not the right person.

It was the first time that I actually got upset in front of one of the officials. I had tried to be respectful the entire time I was there. And they said, you have one more chance to convey to your family what needs to be done. And at that point I realized that it had to be President Clinton or - and no one else. And the official said to me, I think that President Clinton is your best and last option. And when he said that, I knew what had to be done.

Ms. LISA LING: And Dave, this was, as you can imagine, this was tremendously stressful for us on the outside because we're not talking about average Joe American citizens. We're talking about former presidents of the United States. And we're talking about Vice President Gore and Governor Richardson, all of whom were being discussed or considered or we hoped that they would be considered by the North Koreans. So, to say or to get former President Carter to agree to go and then say, oh, wait a minute. I messed up. I mean, it was just incredibly it was a lot of pressure.

DAVIES: But at the end, President Clinton agreed to undertake the mission and it was arranged. And he did go to Pyongyang. And one of the fascinating details about this is the kind of jockeying for imagery that occurred between President Clinton on behalf of the Americans and the North Koreans as this meeting in Pyongyang occurred to bring Laura Ling home. And it was so fascinating. And I remember this at the time, your description of President Clintons expression as he landed at the airport.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DAVIES: And in his dealings with the North Korean officials. Describe that.

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, really, it was a lack of expression. It was President Clinton having to maintain a look of total stoicism, which...

Ms. LISA LING: Which is so unlike him. I mean, President Clinton - we're so used to seeing this jovial character and when he descended off that plane, just to see that completely deadpan expression on his face was so out of the ordinary.

Ms. LAURA LING: Right. And he later said that he, in fact, had to practice that and Hillary and Chelsea had to coach him so that he could maintain that look of total stoicism. We also learned that there was a whole itinerary that the North Koreans wanted Clinton and his team to attend, visits to various monuments, a whole stadium filled with thousands of child acrobatic performers.

And they had to be very careful to, you know, walk that line and not attend any of those events, so as not to seem like they were being chummy with the North Koreans or the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. And I think they walked that line very well. They stuck to the mission that they had at hand, which was to bring us home. And...

Ms. LISA LING: No money was exchanged and no diplomacy was conducted. I mean, it was truly a private humanitarian mission.

DAVIES: Right. And the North Koreans wanted a maximum of respect from the Americans and the Americans wanted to make it as neutral an event as possible. In the end, Clinton did end up having a very meaningful conversation with Kim Jong Il, didnt he?

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, he mentioned to me on the plane that he had made several recommendations to Kim Jong Il, one that involved releasing some South Koreans that were being held in North Korea, a couple of South Korean fishermen, as well as a businessman. And they were, in fact, released shortly after our release. And President Clinton also recommended that Kim Jong Il allow the United States special envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, to travel to Pyongyang and try to get back to the six-party talks, which the North Koreans also allowed several months after our return.

DAVIES: You know, Laura, some weeks after your return from North Korea, you were criticized in some reports from South Korea, a Reverend Lee Chan-Woo, who was then living in China, said that police raided his home a few days after your capture. And he said that the authorities in China cited scenes from videos that you and your crew had taken when they interrogated him. In other words, the notion being that while you were certainly pursuing the story and acting in good faith, that you weren't careful enough, and in the end may have harmed those that were trying to help refugees from North Korea. I didnt see if you or the company had responded to that since then. But what do you make of those criticisms?

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, I certainly live with the thought of the consequences that may have come from our actions. I will say that we were very careful in how we filmed the interview subjects and where we met them. I - we also know that the person who this man was working for actually spoke out about our situation very early on. I think it was maybe the day after we were captured. I think that that may have also tipped the Chinese authorities off as to the story that we were working on because it happened so soon after our release.

DAVIES: This was a long and traumatic experience. Has it changed the way you approach international reporting at all, made you any less willing to do it?

Ms. LAURA LING: Well, currently I am very pregnant and...

(Soundbite of laughter)

DAVIES: Congratulations.

Ms. LAURA LING: Thank you. And expecting my first child, a baby girl, with my husband Ian. And so, of course, its changed things a little bit in the short-term. And I definitely was very, very career focused and had put off having a family for quite a while. And so, right now I'm focusing on family. But I do want to continue to raise awareness about this particular issue and others that are being ignored in the world. Itll just be a matter of when and in what forum.

DAVIES: Well, Laura, Lisa Ling, we're glad youre reunited, wish you the best and thanks so much for speaking with us.

Ms. LAURA LING: Thank you so much.

Ms. LISA LING: Thank you, Dave.

DAVIES: Laura Ling was vice president of Current TVs investigative series Vanguard when she was captured. Lisa Ling is a correspondent for the Oprah Winfrey Show and a contributor to ABCs Nightline and the National Geographic Channel. Their new book is called Somewhere Inside.

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