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June 9th, 2009
10:28 AM ET

Life inside a North Korean prison

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="T. Kumar of Amnesty International has studied conditions inside North Korean prisons."]

American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea. What kind of conditions would they face in a North Korean prison? Not much is known about them. But through the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, we have satellite maps showing the layout of one prison.

T. Kumar is the advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International and he has studied the prison conditions in North Korea. He spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.

John Roberts: If they were sent to one of these prisons, what kind of conditions would they encounter based on the studies you've done?

T. Kumar: We have to divide the situation into two categories. First is about the living conditions. The living conditions are extremely harsh. It's overcrowded, very little food and very little, if any, medical attention. Then every day they have to work for more than ten hours. Very hard labor starting from breaking stones to working in the mines. And very little food again during the day.

Roberts: Very high rates of death in detention among these prisoners?

Kumar: Yes. It's a combination of facts why the deaths are occurring. Number one, it's hard and forced labor. Second, it's lack of food. And unhygienic environment…There is no medical attention at all in many cases. So combined of all of these issues, [there is a] very large number of people who die in these [prisons].

Roberts: But in terms of putting together this report and the conditions inside the prisons, the type of labor these people are being forced to endure, the type of conditions that they are being forced to endure, under their handlers, how did you find all of this information out?

Kumar: We get information through former inmates who flee to China as refugees. And through them, as well as other sources such as former guards [who] at times tell us what's happening. This we did not compile over a year or two. We have been investigating it for the last couple of years and found out all of this inside information. By the way, this is not the full information. Full information could be much worse.

Roberts: You know, at the same time that Laura Ling and Euna Lee were put on trial, there was the whole issue over North Korea’s nukes and the missile tests. The U.S. is talking very tough on that front, the military front, but talking very diplomatically here about the two journalists who have been sentenced.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We view these as entirely separate matters. We think the imprisonment trial and sentencing of Laura and Euna should be viewed as a humanitarian matter. We hope that the North Koreans will grant clemency and deport them.”

Roberts: So the secretary of state and the administration at large are trying to separate these issues and talking very diplomatically about the two journalists. Do you think North Korea will see these as separate issues? Or do you think they're going to try to leverage it to the best of their ability?

Kumar: Yeah, Amnesty International supports the secretary of state's decision. But definitely North Korea is not going to take that position. The timing of their arrest and imprisonment, and the sentencing of 12 years, suggests that they are using this as a pawn in the whole bigger game of nuclear standoff with the United States.

Roberts: And do you think they will ever send Laura and Euna to one of these prisons? If you're a secretive nation and want to keep things hidden, it would seem the last thing you would want to do is send two American journalists to one of these prisons with the thought in the back of your mind that one day they might be released and tell the world what goes on there.

Kumar: We can't rule out anything. Amnesty International always warned the international community not to be complacent on these issues. Since the North Korean government has gone to the extent of sentencing them, we should expect the worst. Expecting it not to happen – it's going to be a disservice to the families as well as to these two journalists. The U.S. also can ask International Committee of the Red Cross, as a first step, to meet with them to see how they are doing. That's something the U.S. can do now.

Filed under: North Korea
soundoff (622 Responses)
  1. Suzanne for President

    Yes, Suzanne ... why don't we just nuke everyone we think deserving of being nuked ... starting with you. Um, uh, like, I don't get it: we're the most edumicated country in the world ... yet we still have idiots like Suzanne don't understand the consequences of starting WW3 ... ridiculous.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  2. Able

    What kind of a Christian are you, Parker? Next time your family member
    gets wrongly sentenced by a dictator state, shall we comfort you by telling your family that "they have to pay for their actions...The best thing to do is give your worries to the Lord and leave it in his hands and move on with your lives." That's right, just MOVE ON. So Christ-like!

    God have mercy! Your self-centeredness is amazing.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  3. alan

    Suzanne,best answer I have heard in a long time!Bomb first then ask questions

    June 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  4. Ashok

    I completely agree we should do something to release them

    But this should be learning lesson

    they sneak into N. Korea


    What country man do, when some one go in their property?
    Journalist should aware of theses things.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  5. Phil

    A little perspective from the US side of things: We (Americans) nearly wiped out the American Indians because they were "savages", we kept and brutalized slaves, in the Civil War prisoners were kept in extremely harsh prisons (probably much worse than NK), In WW1 and 2 if you were a soldier or sailor and you violated military law you were often sentenced to years at hard labour. And look at the brutality and racism blacks have endured in our own country. I could add a lot of things to that list. We have come a long way, our collective awareness and compassion has risen tremendously and we are now pretty much the best place to live in the world. Should we bomb NK into submission and instantly make them nice people? (Look at the mess we made in Iraq) I think they, and all the other insane countries have to go through some similar process that we did. It's called education and the transformation of false ideals. The best thing we can do is to see that the ordinary people of these countries learn the truth about themselves and their leaders. Look at China. It's getting better all the time, and one day they will wake up with pretty much with all the same freedoms we have. Education and awareness and compassion are the answer.

    Having said all that, it would be fun to play the same game with the NKs that they play with the world. Next time one of their military ships slips into South Korea waters, capture it and offer to return their men in exchange for prisoners and other concessions. Give back their ship? Hell no. If we had some balls it would seem we should be able to play the game of one-upmanship better than them!

    June 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  6. jplaur

    It's very sad that people are so insensitive to these two journalist's plight. It' s gutsy courageous people like them that sometimes make the world a better place for the rest of us. It's the cruel and deplorable government of North Korea that is the evil monsters. I am sure that the journalists had the best intention to help and bring some light to the poor suffering people of North Korea. My prayers are for them to have strength and courage that they will be able to get out of the hell hole they are in. I also pray for the poor parents who are living a nightmare.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  7. jonathan Halverson

    Well behaved women rarely change history. I'm sorry sneaking into a funeral and invading a families privacy is completely different than this. Sure enough, Nancy Grace can use her voice to judge everyone else's findings, but god forbid you go and due any real journalistic work. There are people who have spent their lives bring light to places like Tibet and Uganda. Now, people like Anderson Cooper report on the findings. We are in a global war, if you don't believe that I have some swamp land in Florida for you perfect for development! WAKE UP! We should save these girls!

    June 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  8. Joey

    To a certain extent, I agree with Mr. DiWarren, but they are innocent people who were wrongly accused and imprisoned. Stupidity – yes, they were inbetween a rock and a hard place, but 12 years? With N.Korea's track record, who knows if they'll ever see freedom...

    June 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  9. Kevin

    To Suzanne Lee:

    Are you out of your mind? Your comments are so ignorant that it left me speechless.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  10. Jersey Dave

    Who said they snuck into N. Korea. There is a possiibility that N Korea snatched them while on the Chinese side of the border. Yes, that's a dangerous area but if they were kidnapped we need to do something about it. Why isn't China helping us out with this?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  11. robert

    reporters are too nosy for their own good – there are places and things that do not need to be investigated by the media – sorry for the women – but they asked for it

    June 9, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  12. OCBased

    I'm sorry, but one's career should not outweigh the safety and love for one's child. These journalists (who have children I believe) knew the places they travel are dangerous and could cost them their lives, but yet, still go where they go because they're "journalists" and they're "passionate" about their careers and "getting the truth out." I'm sorry but you should have more passion and eagerness for your child and making sure his/her mama comes home to you at night! NEVER intentionally put yourself in a situation where it could possibly mean your child not growing up with a mother.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  13. Shell

    Russ, what does your situation have to do with what's happened to these two reporters?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  14. joe

    It's hard to believe there is any sane person who would advocate the mass nuclear slaughter of millions of people just because they are frustrated that America can't rule the world. Sounds like some insanity that Hitler would have spoken.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  15. Rene Atkinson

    These two young women are American citizens, and they are not agents of the United States government. We must insist on their immediate release. How could any US citizen think outherwise?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  16. Burnsy

    So in essence..... these two Americans have been sentenced to death. *** Burnsy ***

    June 9, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  17. Realistic

    i don't see why this is such a big deal from what I've read they tryed to sneak into korea and were caught and now they are being punished for it so i don't see what the big deal is

    June 9, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  18. Tim

    I must say I'm a bit dissapointed with the lack of support for these two brave reporters. I'm shocked that so many Americans are quick to take NK's side on this issue. Fact is, we DO NOT know for sure that they ever crossed the boder, given NK's past history, I would not be suprised if THEY crossed the border to nab the two reporters. Many people seem to decry what these reporters were doing. If it wasn't for these two brave reporters willing to risk themselvs to report on this dark subject (human trafficing) so that WE in America can have a glimpse as to what is actually going on, we would know nothing more than what the DPRK state media fed us. I have nothing but admiration for people like them who work so hard and put it all on the line so that we can have access to information and the truth.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  19. Mr Mann

    Sorry Suzanne Lee, but that is the problem Americans have, they think they control the world..LOL No you are not the most powerful country with the most powerful military, that is all American propaganda that is fed to you by your goverment. America got its ass kicked in Vietnam, and now again in Iraq, as far as these two journalists are concerned, they got what they deserve for spying, Like the old saying goes, "if you can't do the time then don't comit the crime"

    June 9, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  20. Janet

    It had been reported that these two women were in China reporting on North Korean refugees close to the North Korea border but not in North Korea. It's possible they entered North Korea unintentionally; seems odd they would do so purposely if the story was in China. It is also probable, and I believe very likely, that the North Koreans kidnapped these journalists and brought them into North Korea. We know for a fact that North Korea has done this before. I would bet North Korea has operatives working in China, given their close relations. This leaves me with a question, why isn't China putting heavy pressure on North Korea to release these two western journalists? There are a lot of questions. But the in the end the release of these two women should be considered necessary by the governing bodies of the free world and mandated with real consequences. When we have people enter this country illegally some of them suceed in living productive lives here in the USA, others when caught and adjudicated by the Federal Government are deported. These two women are prefessional journalists who are respected, intelligent members of our society with strong familial bonds. They are not criminals and should be released immedidiately and returned to us. A sentence of 12 years of hard labor shows how truly ugly North Korea is. Hopefully North Korea will show us how forgiving it can be by releasing Ling & Lee now.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  21. Tim

    At least they weren't sent to Gitmo, right?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  22. Dr. D

    i agree with all of you. The U.S. always looks like a pushover because we're too nice. We close Gitmo. for what?! we need that and we need harsh interrogation tactics. In any other country if an American violates their law we get punished. We even get our heads cut off and it's video taped for the world to see. Over here we treat the captives like freakin babies because they got their picture taken. We can't be harsh because they have rights. B*lls**t

    June 9, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  23. LS

    Wow, such judgment, fellow citizens. All without knowing the facts...that's right–since you have one bad experience with a journalist all journalists deserve to be punished for your pain caused by the one. Gitmo is a country club because you've clearly been there and experienced it. And these 2 journalists are so stupid because you believe that they did what North Korea says they did? Wow.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  24. aileen

    We don't know the story of how they got arrested or how they ended up in the North Korean territory, do we? Let's not jump to conclusions about that and further, do we value the stories of the North Koreans that these two women were attempting to tell so little?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  25. Phil

    If the island wasn't half-filled with law-abiding South Koreans, I'd sink that island.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  26. sam

    It is certain that they actually even crossed into North Korea – they were likely captured by overly aggressive border guards while they were in China so that they can be used as bargaining chips. This is awful and unjust. And Gitmo is not a country club. The stories of torture are horrendous. You people should be ashamed of yourselves and your comments – torturing anyone and imprisoning any innocent person is never okay.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  27. allen

    the way you guys talk is that you totally believe that they were there to do hostile acts against korea. they were there to do a report and were kidanpped but some of the craziest people in the world. the only crime they committed was being of another country and entering that communist crap whole. they need to be freed and we need to go in there and kill all the a-holes that want to defend that crazy racist govt. we need to take them all and throw them in the desert and have them dig trenches in the 120 degree heat in death valley ca. f em all!!! lets go get our people and kill kim jong il and he crazy koreans!!!

    June 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  28. Walt

    A couple of thoughts come to mind:
    1) If Cuban reporters were to sneak into this country and the authorities were to believe they were fomenting sedition, how would the US treat them? Oh yeah, we have Gitmo.
    2) Suzanne: We have long known that nuclear power is a double edged sword. Notice that it hasn't been used since WWII. The reason is that using a nuke the first time would be like the crack in the dike. "Hey the US used them, why can't we?"
    3) Kevin: While there are many places that are far worse than Gitmo, I would offer that the US is supposed to be better than those offending countries. By torturing, holding without trial, isolating prisoners we lose the moral high-ground that we have claimed for years. So is the US better? Are we morally more enlightened?
    4) Now finally I do feel sorry for the families of Lee and Ling, and I pray they will be returned soon. But if they DID cross over into NK and were caught, what were they thinking would happen?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  29. Jessica

    Martini– As far as anyone knows, these women did not intend to cross the border. They were covering a story near the border and wound up on the wrong side. They are, in fact, very intelligent. Smart enough, I'm sure, to read all the facts before calling someone they don't even know stupid. Take a lesson.

    And Russ- these two women did not sneak into your friend's funeral. They were doing nothing wrong. And they certainly did nothing to you. Not all reporters are heartless just because you had a bad experience. They don't deserve this.

    Have some compassion, people.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  30. Brian

    Stupider is not a word.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  31. Jeff

    We liberals "whine" about Gitmo because we are better than N. Korea, not equal. Holding people in perpetuity without trial is in some ways even worse than the N. Korean labor camps.

    "So many people need to be nuked these days," might be the most ignorant comment in a long line of ignorant comments. Yes, by all means, let's start nuking innocent people in countries whose governments we don't agree with even though we are not at war. Would that you were born in a different country you warmongering truss.

    What in God's name is wrong with you people?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  32. Chris

    My comments are directed are Russ by the way. I echo Suzanne's coments.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  33. Mike Conroy

    I'm a liberal Kevin and I'm not whining

    June 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  34. shawna

    The punishment should fit the crime. No one deserves to be treated like a slave. For all practical purpose these two women have been sentenced to death. Community service, fines, deportation or perhaps a combination of all three, but not digging mines and breaking rocks. Sounds like a Nazi mindset.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  35. Vince White

    I'm surpised at these comments, yet again, i'm not.

    Suzanne Lee: If a nuclear holocaust is what you are looking for, then you are in the wrong country. North Korea is waiting for your citizenship application form. Let's see you talk like this after NK bombs your little town and kills american civilians.

    Kevin: Liberals cry about Gitmo because it does not respect the American humanitarian vision. We are intelligent enough to know better than take human rights away from prisoners, whatever the context. As the leaders of the world, we should not reduce ourselves to the level shown by totalitarian nations.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  36. Mike Kim

    The sentencing of these two journalists is tragic and of course everyone hopes for their immediate deportation back to the US, but I completely agree with the decision not to conflate this issue with the larger much more dire nuclear one. The two journalists assumed the risk of entering NK and they should not expect the US to lose any political leverage with NK for the sake of their timely release.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  37. Richard

    Auschwitz, Buchenwald and North Korean labor camps... will the human race ever learn?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  38. David

    It is because of the U.S. system of rendition, secret prisons, secret trials before military commissions, and public disgraces such as Guantanamo Bay and U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan that we as a nation have lost our privilege of complaining about other countries abusive justice systems.
    How do we expect to hold other nations accountable when we perform just as badly or worse?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  39. stan

    russ, that is the stupidest correlation i have ever seen. basically, you are justifying every form of racism there is. just because you had a bad experience with two idiotic reporters does not mean that these women's lives should be forfeit.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  40. J Baker

    These women are journalists; not two nitwits who happened to skip acrossed the border. They were reporting on defectors. There is no chance that they didn't know they had crossed the border. They were in a North Korean village just across the border interviewing people who had been detainees. You mean none of the villagers knew they were living in North Korea and therefor didn't tell the journalists where they were? Not likely.
    I DO think 12 years is ridiculous but I doubt there will be a reduction given the hard stance that North Korea is taking with international relations of late.
    I hope Mr. Gore is able to negotiate their release as he has great respect world wide.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  41. Jack Phoeninx,az

    That sentence is a death sentence for both of them. They are using them as human shields , when we attack North Korea, which we will.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  42. jennifer

    russ: and your point is?
    suzanne: i think the issue is more complex than that
    kevin: go and read Fox – we don't want you here
    Martini: remember no details of the arrest were given, or charges. Perhaps they accidentally stepped across a border. Is there a giant fence?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  43. ufisher

    Hi Suzanne Lee, Interesting comments, I had to LOL, I think the reason we don't use them is that it will set off many countries to use them as well, we built them as a deterrent of the USSR, no intent on using them, just to let the USSR know that we could, if needed, destroy them.

    Although, I too feel like we need to crush the DPRK, or better known as North Korea, it will not happen unless they make the first move. China will have none of it either, China likes that buffer and is on first name basis with North Korea.

    What NK is doing is outright wrong, but hey, they have manipulated every administration since the Korean War and technically we are still at war with them since no treaty was every signed at the close of the war.

    So perhaps we should finish what was started back in 1950, but it will have to be done conventionally and the US will have to be ready for millions of Koreans on the offense towards them, on the other hand, perhaps they will lay down their arms, but I suspect not as they have been brain washed for over 50 years now!

    June 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  44. Brodie

    russ your comments, though very opinionated, are ludicrous in nature. Im sorry for your friend who passed, but c'mon, a 12 year sentence might as well be death, have a heart. imagine if it were you, clearly you can't. Suzanne you have nuclear weapons to defend yourself, not use them, you sound like the dictator to me. How could you possibly want to use nuclear weapons, do you realize if the United States were to use a nuclear weapon on any nation that you would see your beloved country fall quicker than a house of cards..... Bottom line these journalists should be returned to their native country and i pray that they do not have to endure a sentence in a North Korean prison. I pray that no one ever does, but maybe i'm crazy.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  45. kevin

    serves them right. don't go into a country illegally. and then expect the world to drop what its doing and save you.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  46. Alan

    Suzanne Lee – you are either ignorant or just plain stupid. Do you know what Nuclear Weapons do?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  47. Ryan

    To Suzanne Lee

    I have to say that I feel bad for the journalists, they are in a spot they don't deserve to be in. the reason they are there is because the US has infuriated yet another nation. And I hate to break it to you but you are not the most powerful nation anymore. You need to get off your high horse.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  48. Rodney

    Their presence in North Korean had to been a calculated risk that they or their editors were willing to take. I admire their dedication for their profession but at the same time it's just good common sense not to flirt with dangerous countries and situations. Yes, the media world can benefit from the information but at work cost? The risk that things might go wrong has real world consequenses. Daniel Pearl paid the highest cost. It's terrible. I wouldn't go there without military protection myself. I hope they are returned home safely. Soon.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  49. nancy

    so the full story wont be displayed why say anything at all then people dont wanna hear half a story but thats how reporters are they only tell the public what the media wants them to hear..... the full story should be told if your gonna make a report

    June 9, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  50. Tony

    Plain stupidity on part of those reporters. They just created, knowingly or for fun unnecessary problem in already difficult situation.
    Now it is going to cost us an arm and the leg to get them out. What's kind of idiotic reporting is this? Who is responsible for their action and who allow this to be taken place? Gore?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  51. Henry

    They knew exactly what they were getting themselves into and opted to do anyways to gain recognition. Guess what? Mission accomplished. Their pictures and names are now plastered on every news publication, website and broadcast. BRAVO!

    June 9, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  52. Donna

    You know, why do people insist going where they are not wanted.
    Stay in America, do not go overseas, especially these countries that will never be anything but trouble. God bless them, and I hope the best for them, but I see them spending alot of time in that prison.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  53. Dave

    So you're not "scared" to the end lives of scores of innocent North Korean citizens, as long as we "nuke" Kim Jong-il? Maybe you ought to hand-deliver the bomb to Jong-il (and all of the other North Koreans you'd kill) personally!

    Nice logic. If there's one prison that's worse that Gitmo, then therefore Gitmo is a country club. But then, what else would I expect from the mind of a conservative besides a simplistic, black & white view of things...

    June 9, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  54. Annette

    Martini DiWarren and Kevin: your comments are out of line. I'm sure they did know what consequences to expect on being captured. Kevin, this is not about liberals versus non-liberals. Two brave women are in a very bad situation and your comments are petty and mean. Not all reporters are jerks. We should all be grateful for reporters like these two women who work and put themselves at risk to get information out to regular people. It is because of investigative reporting that regular people stand a chance against powerful, corrupt governments and organizations. Freedom is what the USA is about. Reporters who help us to be free by providing information about things that may threaten our freedom or the freedom of others should be appreciated. You both sound like a couple of armchair generals who have no idea about the harsh conditions people face to keep us free. You owe a lot of your freedom to brave reporters like these women.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  55. Bill

    The Gitmo prisoners are treated better than the North Korean citizens by the North Koprean Government. As for the prisons, they are essentially concentration camps. Per ABC, former guards have explained that not only is the person put in these camps for minor crimes, but the family (children as well) are put there too as part of the persons punishment. Why don't we help these people and stop complaining about Gitmo which has been a convenient political platform instead of the true prison. Gitmo can have it's day but for now, let's focus on the real issues. These people in North Korea need help.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  56. Sancho "the other guy"

    They were reported as captured in China across the border, not in North Korea. They were also over 100 miles apart when "captured". So the consequences DiWarren is contemplating are inexistant and that statment barely needs to be dealt with further. Yes, compared to just about every other country's prisons ours, including GITMO are easy streets: TV, free access to communication, weights, free time, books, FOOD and MEDICAL care. The unfortunate case of the journalists is just another step in the increasing proviocations of the North Korean regime. kim Jong-iL is in his death throes, and I believe he knows it, he is attempting to consolidate power and see through his and his father's dream of "powerful state. It's funny as every totalitarian regime needs to either acutally be IN a state WAR or PRETEND it is. This allows the governing body to make decisions while subjugating the needs of the people while placating the people's thoughts because they think they are in war time conditions. Really KJI is following the old "legalist" tradition of government with some of the latter brtual Taoist elements. The US' methods of engagment and sanctions are such a far cry form the asian style of interaction it is laughable. Just getting rhem to the talijg ntable is seen by the other countires as a good sign. The whole 6PT concept needs to be rethought and revamped.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  57. JJ

    Does not North Korea realize that if they fire one nuclear missle toward another country we will wipe them off the face of the earth with a thousand nukes.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  58. Fred

    The United States needs to do something rather than just sitting around. Ok, I know the government has pride but we need to get these 2 women back on U.S. soil.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  59. PARKER

    These two women knew the risk if they crossed into North Korea without legal permission that they could get caught. They made their choice and when they made that choice they risked there families emotions, marriages, ect... It is sad to see and hear the pain the families are going through at this time we must pray for them and for each other, but they have to pay for their actions and it will be horrible for them to endure 12 years of hard labour. The best thing to do is give your worries to the Lord and leave it in his hands and move on with your lives. God be with you all.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  60. Mike

    Oh nice Russ, I'm sure your best friend would be all about you being an idiot and comparing these two.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  61. Christian

    The lack of empathy on this blog is unfortunate...

    June 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  62. Fred


    Your friend hated you and always thought you were a prick.
    That has nothing to do with these women.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  63. Anon

    We need to tell NK that they need to wake up and smell the coffee. They are a little nothing country going against nearly the entire world. If they continue to give us an attitude, we need to bomb them into the stone age. We have the capability to turn every square inch of their country into rubble WITHOUT using nukes and WITHOUT committing ground forces. Why do we put up with these idiots?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  64. JJ

    Anyone going near North Korea or Iran have to know what they are getting themselves into. Stupid is as stupid does.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  65. Eric

    The amount of heartlessness in these comments is disturbing. Russ' comment specifically about feeling somewhat vindicated because someone of a the same profession once did something bad to him reflects some of the more ignorant and ugly human tendencies one can conjure up. These people just got sentenced to some of the worst environments imaginable and for what? For courageously trying to create more transparency in the world so that regimes like North Korea's have a harder time existing. To every person who left some ignorant comment about assumed risk or what-have-you. I say shame on you.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  66. lou

    Let the nukes fly! The world is going insane and maybe a little attitude readjusment is what it needs. Oh I forgot we have the messiah Obama and he wants to break bread with Jong, Castro, Ahmedinejad, Chavez and any other petty dictator.

    Scary aint it......

    June 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  67. Hennes

    Whether they strayed into North Korean territory or were close enough to be abducted by North Korean border guards isn't known yet, and whether they "deserve" their fate is debatable. North Korea is not just America's problem but also that of the world. Nuclear long-range missiles aside, a major accident at one of the plants can be catastrophic. I believe it's only a matter of time when this hornet's nest falls out of the tree. Do we, as in America together with other countries, take action now or wait for the hive to explode?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  68. beevee

    It is high time that the international community unite solidly to teach the North Korean government a lesson and change the government if necessary. I am tired of their bullying tactics and the rest of the world does not seem to be able to do anything to stop them. What a shame.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  69. chris

    This is the same situiation as a mountain hiker or a skier. They know the risks involved, do it anyways and then want to be rescued when things go wrong. If they actually entered N. Korea illegally, then it is on them,enjoy the 12 years.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  70. jamesb

    jeez. is cnn running some contest for dumbest remarks today?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  71. Tom Wittmann

    I agree with Russ. The US must deal with North Korea dangerous and reckless policy basing on their disastrous record only. Trying to include this episode in said record would help N.Korea to dilute the issues.

    Please do not call these women "American". They are Korean with an US passport, continuimg to be active in Korean politics and a Russ implies, the North can
    make a case by somewhat justifying their actions.

    The State department must warn new US citizens to abstain to continue being involved in the politics of their original country, and not to try doing so under the in such case not available umbrella of the US

    June 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  72. tracy

    in my opinion they should drop a nuke or atomic bomb on north korea.. or @ the very least assasinate the leadership of n.korea. i understand that the us wont go military on them because of china but something has to give with this worthless country called north korea.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  73. Viola

    What's done is done. Don't be harsh and judgemental towards these two journalists. I'm sure they are in such fear and turmoil. I hope they will be released and definitely it's all political. Pray for their well-being and sanity. Oh, I can't imagine how devastating the families are now.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  74. Mark Primavera

    You play with fire you get burnt, North Korea is not like the US. You just cant sneak under a fence, or swim across a stream and cut grass for a living. You want to sneak into someone else's country you pay the price. Too bad we don't do the same with all the garbage from Mexico and Guatemala.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  75. Jagan

    Im really worried about those two journalists, i personally think its ridiculous to sentence them for 12 yrs in prison for an illegal entry. As T.Kumar said this is just a starting move for the much bigger game, USA have to focus on that and deal with this more appropriately. North korean government should be advised to properly treat the two journalists.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  76. Ron

    I do not share Russ' lack of remorse. Let it be his sister or daughter imprisoned without due process, defense, or assistance, and he would be camping out on the State Department's lawn. These two reporters are pawns, and NK should consider the fact they are locking up, a communication venue to the Free World, at a time they are posturing and sending out strong signals and messages.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  77. billy

    Typical insightful comments that I've come to expect here. Reporters snuck into a does that relate to slave labor again?

    June 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  78. Scott

    Get these 2 women the hell out of there. The US cannot trust that fair justice is being done for its citizens in a country like North Korea. Whatever it takes, if it's sending in special forces, or using a more diplomatic route, get them out.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  79. Joe

    Well it is a very unfortunate situation for these two ladies. I do feel that you should not travel to these horrible countries. Maybe some good will come out of this and reopen the eyes of many Americans that America is the best and will always be the best country in the world. I wonder why Al Gore is not helping with this. They are employees of Al Gore.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  80. Rick

    That was a rhetorical question, of course.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  81. WFHN

    If any harm comes to these women I call on the President of the United States to impose the full rath of the U.S. on the North Korean government.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  82. Jim

    Viral Reporters aren't legit anyway. Al should just hire a couple of new groupies from the local community college.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  83. IA Boy

    Time to nuke that sorry excuse of a nation. Start with the capital and dear leader. Once the snake is beheaded, political normalacy can flow in.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  84. Rick

    Ummm ... Russ, Suzanne, Kevin and Martini: Are you all nuts?

    June 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  85. Rob

    Now we will never be able to bomb N. Korea. They have a U. S. reporter in prison.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  86. David

    I say cut off all aid, oil, food, to NK that we give them to keep the peace. Also stop all flow of supplies from reaching them that we can get a hold of. They want to rattle their sword, let them do it with no heat, food or supplies. Why do we pay people that cant wage war in the first place.

    Im tired of that little wanna be dictator. Time to remove him from the earth.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  87. Chris

    you're quite a loser buddy.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  88. Robin

    What a hateful comment. I am sorry you had a bad experience with 3rd rate journalists, but that has no bearing on this very unfortunate situation. You are a hateful person!

    June 9, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  89. Bob

    Guess they didn't get the memo, you are supposed to escape OUT of North Korea not IN. Price for stupidity in this world is high. Pray for them but expect nothing.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  90. Chris C

    The people that protested the water boarding of 3 terrorists won't say a word. Obama is on his world apology tour. Maybe he'll come out and blame Bush for this?

    June 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  91. Michael

    You call this reporting? Why did you speak with someone who, by his own admission, "did not compile" the atrocities at the North Korean Labor camp? A quick Google search reveals hundreds of thousands of articles based on eyewitness accounts from ex-prisoners and ex-guards, which you fail to provide in this story, and whom describe in great detail what actually happens in these camps. CNN is either unwilling to report on the multitude of readily available facts that Mr. Kumar is in the dark about, or CNN is unwilling to do so. Either way, this is exceedingly poor reporting. I would expect better from CNN.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  92. russ

    Actually I thought about it for 3 more seconds and realized I'm an idiot who can't make comparisons.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  93. khurrum

    russ > You are a moron.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm |


    June 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  95. MJB

    The big bully in Korea is testing the US. People! hes had a stroke too. An certainly is not thinking. Wasn't thinking I'm sure before his stroke.
    Have to get tough with this rude, crude, socially unacceptable dude.
    We need a strong president that will not stand for his Bull S- and don;t think Obama has the B-s to do anything.,

    June 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  96. phil

    just north korea flexing what little muscle they have, and to get attention , they did and they got it , and if we want these girls back, we have to play ball . . again

    June 9, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  97. Martini DiWarren

    If they didn't know what the consequences were, they're much stupider than I originally thought they were.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  98. Kevin

    And liberals are whining like little cry babies about Gitmo. In the grand universe of world prisions, Gitmo is a country club.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  99. Suzanne Lee

    Why do we waste money builing nuclear bombs if we aren't going to use them? So many people need to be nuked these days. I'm so tired of all the sickness in this world, we're the most powerful country with the most powerful military in the world and we're scared to step on the toes of psychotic dictators...ridiculous.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  100. russ

    looks good on them. sorry if i seem mean but 2 reporters managed to sneak into my best friends funeral to get pictures and a story because of a bad accident. i have no remorse.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
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