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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. Bill - From Chicago

    Larsen – you are wrong and way off base here! I would agree that we are all subject to the laws of the nations we visit, but these reporters were not in North Korea when they were kidnapped – get your facts straight before you start spewing anti-american trash!

    June 9, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  2. K

    BY the looks of these girls i think their sentence will be 12 years of on their back labor not much more then that.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  3. larry h

    This is a response to TOM WHITMAN
    You are probably one of the more ignorant Americans out there. Did you really say that we shouldn’t consider the two journalists as American? What are you stupid? She’s just a Korean with a US passport?
    Do you consider an African American as just an African with a US passport? What about our current President Obama? His father was African. Does that make him an African with a US passport?
    I have great pride in being American especially considering the diversity in our society, but hearing ignorant comments like that makes me feel ashamed that we still have people like you in our society. I completely agree that you can have whatever belief that you want, but your comment only shows your ignorance. Whether you are white, black, brown, yellow, green, or blue, I believe that if one is born in the United States and truly believe in our system, they are just as American as you are. So please lets not say ignorant and quasi-racial comments such as “she’s just a Korean with a US passport”.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:32 pm |

    especially john roberts and his guests have the most credibility on TV today.


    June 9, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  5. Gavin


    at what point were my comments hateful?

    you are a true moron. i never once said anything remotely hateful or about "bombing" anyone.

    i guess it is hateful to support what bush did by protecting this country by means such as GITMO?

    you fail to realize that bush didn't go murder thousands of innocent people...these ruthless, hate filled people MURDERED thousands of innocent americans on 9/ you tell me what side you are on?

    lets be passionate and "fair" to terrorists who killed innocent people from our nation, and instead trash and hate on our former leader who has prevented another terrorist attack upon our people.

    i do not know what i was called "hateful" for by you, but if i am hateful then you are completely twisted and un-american.

    that being said, the bottom line is hopefully these women are returned home safely and nothing more comes out of this mess

    June 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  6. Really

    Did they or did they not break N. Koreas laws. If they broke them, then they need to take responsibility for their actions and suffer the penalty. If not, we need to continue to push for their release. A lot of comments are typical liberal comments in "it is not my fault" or the lack of personal responsibility.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  7. JC

    Reading the comments here (and in other articles) is further proof that we as a country need to ensure more dollars are spent (not cut) from education.

    Nuke 'em? Bomb them? Are you kidding?

    Unfortunately people need to realize that life is not black and white. May seem to some of you that these situations have a simple answer but they don't. You criticize Obama but please note that Bush also could not pull the trigger on North Korea - they were the one country in the AXIS of EVIL that actually had nukes yet Bush spent all his time in the Middle East. Why? Because the North Korea situation is extremely tricky.

    You have China (who holds the vast majority of US debt) right above them who would not be happy about an attack on their neighbor/ally. You have South Korea right below them which will undoubtedly be the victim of a conventional or nuclear attack by North Korea if the US attacked North Korea; note the vast majority of intellectual/influential people/companies in South Korea are in Seoul which is throwing distance from North Korea; one attack on Seoul neutralizes all of South Korea. You have Japan which would also take some damage from North Korea flailing if the US were to go in. I'm sorry, but it's not as simple as just bombing them.

    And to Mr. Wittman:

    Just because they look Asian you throw out a bunch of racist garbage. One of them isn't even Korean. And I believe both were born in the US. Do you even know what you're talking about?

    June 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  8. Danny

    Japan was threatening to act militarily if North Korea finishes with its nuclear program (including delivery system). Why not let Japan go with their F-16's when the time comes. Chinese government? Screw them too.

    I'm feed up with this "dear leader".

    June 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  9. Andy

    Probably fortunately for these two women, North Korea does everything it can to prevent contact between their citizens and foreigners to prevent their citizens from learning about life outside Korea. In fact, it's a crime for a North Korean, other than those who deal with foreigners as part of their job, to have any contact with them.

    So these two women will probably spend their time either in isolation or together, but not with a work gang. Because North Korea will want to trade them for someone or something, they will probably get a reasonable amount of food – maybe even more than the typical North Korean, who is chronically underfed.

    And to those idiots who suggest nuking NK, grow up! Regardless of our disagreements with their government, we have no issue with the NK people.

    It won't be pleasant or easy, but they are probably better off than the Korean inmates.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  10. Not Subject To Elizabeth II

    Note to "Love The Great White North Eh?":

    Does your supreme leader Her Majesty the Queen of England (And England Jr...Canada) know you are making posts on foreign news sources and violating her Royal Perogative on Canadian foregin affairs? She may revoke your right to buy maple syrup schnapps at the state liquor store if she finds out.

    Why is not surprising that a guy who is subject to a foreign monarch's rule would have such a repressed view on international freedoms and would need to make this an America bashing issue instead of an issue of NK sovereignty vs. freedom of the press. Sad. Everyone tell "Love The Great White North Eh?" how sorry we are for him and tell him it's ok to be Canadian and still not turn every story about American's into an "ignorant Americans" post.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  11. Laura in Boston

    Russ, I'm sorry for your loss and experience but it's hardly appropriate to group all journalists into the same package. Suzanne, everyone has allies, if we bomb North Korea then we have issues with China and Russia. We can't use them, nor can anyone else. It makes the world far too unstable. Kevin, you can ask McCain about torture and how far it got the Vietnamese when they tortured him. I believe he gave them a football team's front line when they asked for names of people in his unit. Martini, we aren't completely sure what the circumstances are surrounding their capture. North Korea's government is incredibly volatile and unpredictable. They could have crossed the border and captured Ling and Lee. They are CRAZY!

    June 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  12. Adam

    Remove the dictator? More sanctions? Most powerful military in the world?

    All great talk, but the only way to remove a dictator in the way many people are talking is war. Which i can guarantee with not be fought by anyone on this board who actually makes comments like that. People talk a big game but when it comes down to it.. you don't mind going to war again cause its not you or your family who will be killing people and getting killed.

    There is a diplomatic solution to this.. just because one has the largest military doesn't give one the right to rain down destruction on anyone for travesties that can be talked through. You can still have a strong hand with a soft touch.

    Unfortunately there is no easy solution to this.. more sanctions, especially weapons and weapon technology related blockades could be taken as an act of war, food and energy sanctions would effect hundreds of thousands of people, possible millions. Of course not all of them can be 'innocent', but the vast majority are.. its a toss up, 2 journalists lives for the untold suffering of thousands.. Either way you look at the situation, there are very few good outcomes for both sides. And even then those can only be reached by discussion ( which includes posturing, militarily and economically).

    Whoever made the comments about using Nuclear weapons is ridiculous, you would start a nuclear holocaust that would kill millions for two American journalists who knew the risks? Since when did one American life equate to millions of any other country?

    June 9, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  13. Bachel

    I agree with the Michael. POOR REPORTING!!!

    June 9, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  14. drew

    Suzanne Lee i agree with you alot of people do deserve to get nuked and that means us so let North Korea drop a nuke whereever you live u idiot, no one deserves to get nuked, i dont care if North Korea, Iran, Libya or anyother country as nukes they have the right to protect their country and not dumb enough to launch a active one to another country cause the know whats going to happen

    June 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  15. John

    Re 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."

    Last year in my city a drunken cement truck driver killed a family of 5 when he ran into them. This particular driver should be drawn and quartered, but I don't think all cement truck drivers are bad. How can you wish this on these two women for the mere fact they're reporters?

    June 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  16. Robert

    Finally, a country who knows how to secure their borders. I bet another American doesn't try to cross their border illegally any time soon. 12 years is a little harsh, however they could have also been shot while crossing. Maybe we could learn a lesson here...

    June 9, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  17. joe

    North Korea enslaves and works to death approximately 2 million of it's own citizens every year. Being worked to death (starvation) is one of the "milder" punishments they mete out. These women won't live more than a few months if the sentences are actually imposed. The world has been "Talking" with N/K for 50 years. It was wasting it's time after the first 5. Incenerating the 98% who would die to get their families out? Just as insane as the megalomanic who runs the place. I think the best plan may be South Koreans, many who have family trapped there. And cut off the arms trade, which funds the N/K government. N/K is a huge exporter of weapons and hardware. If the world was serious about "Change" in N/K, a multinational arms trade embargo would be easy to enforce.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  18. Paul

    Is this sad? Yes. Horrible? Yes. Is North Korea held by a government that we find disgusting and inhuman? Yes. But they're a sovereign nation, recognized (if loathed) by the international community- and in fact, we've been technically in a state of war with them since the Korean War started. There was no "peace", only a truce.

    So you have two foreign nationals who ID themselves as being from a nation you're at war with, who have crossed your border without permission and are questioning your citizenry. Think about what the good ol' USA would do then. Hint: Take a look at what we did in WWII.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  19. ND

    This WTC survivor applauds the closing of Gitmo. If we can't afford to give our enemies the rights our founders enshrined in our Constitution, then those rights are no longer worth defending.

    Seems to me that the real reason people oppose closing Gitmo is that they are afraid to have terrorists locked up in their own back yard. To those people, I say: grow a set. I thought Americans were made of stronger stuff than that. Guess I was wrong.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  20. Crystal

    It is amazing to me that so many people here would believe North Korea, a horrible communist country that threatens us every day, over our own respected journalists. Look it up, N. Korea has repeatedly kidnapped people from China and claimed they were illegally crossing the border. These are rural parts of China, not blocked off by military. It happens ALL the time.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  21. Fred

    If they were called Paparatzi instead of Journalists, would any of you feel different? If they truly invaded N. Korea to get a "big story" regardless of the consequences to themselves, their loved ones or their country which now has to deal with their safety, then they commited an act of personal espionage against N. Korea and are being dealt with according to that countries law. Why should they receive special treatment over N. Korean residents just because they broke into the country. Twelve years for espionage is pretty normal I think, even if the espionage was for personal reasons. I don't condone N. Korea's current behaviour with the Nukes and the missiles, but, that and the reporters being tried and sentenced are really are two separate issues and the fact that their prisons are harsh and probably inhumane is actually a third issue.

    Also, Kumar was probably not the person to talk to here. His double talk – "This we did not compile over a year or two. We have been investigating it for the last couple of years" – indicates that he is pretty much uniformed about the matter.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  22. Callysto

    This is the bottom line. You don't go traversing into hostile territory or unknown territory and then expect preferential treatment.

    They weren't invited to report on or in china nor on or in north korea by any of those 2 governments officially. So they have no business there.

    They get what they get. Stupidity has a high price indeed. and if they felt they were on some higher mission from a higher path serving a higher cause, then 12 years of hard labor should be a small price to pay and pass by quickly.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  23. eddie

    The ideal situation would be an extradition agreement with the U.S. in which they could serve the remainder of their sentences in humane conditions....of course the chances of this are slim to none.....

    June 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  24. Bill - From Chicago

    You are all nuttie if you think that WWIII will be started over a couple of women who got imprisioned in North Korea. We can not nuke them (by the way, you kill a lot of innocent children and women) becuase if we Nuke North Korea, China and Russia will respond – they will Nuke the U.S., South Korea or Japan. The Arab nations will have a field day with us taking an extreme action like Nuking another nation and all nations will denounce our actions – seriously, the only way we can Nuke North Korea is if they Nuke Japan or the South – and even then the missles might have to come from China or Russia.

    Also, all you republicians stop making this into a Bush – Obama issue. Bush was an idiot – history will show that, so stop looking back and start looking forward – seriously.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  25. Larsen

    Anybody who suggests that these women need to be returned to/by the United States are the worst kind of bigots. Who are you to assume that you know better than the government of a soverign country? You assume that the way you were raised is the best way in the entire world. The fact is that these women are now subject to the laws of the lands they decide to visit. The fact that you do not agree or like these laws is your problem, not theirs. The intelligent decision is to stay far far away from places that have laws you do not agree with.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  26. James

    I can't say that I'm surprised by the ignorance displayed in most of these posts. The government of the DPRK has proven time and time again that they are willing to cross legal borders to take prisoners for their own politcal gain. The journalists knew of the dangers they would face by shedding light on this important issue. We cannot take what the communist dictatorship releases as fact. Remember, this is the same government that claimed their ICBM test successfully put a satellite into orbit when every international space agency has proven that they did not. The poor people of North Korea are given only information that the oppressive government allows them to have. It is part of the North's information warfare strategy. has been proven that North Korean information specialists leave pro-DPRK/anti-US remarks on sites like this. They are very crafty propoganda artists.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  27. Al Gennari

    I feel for the plight of these two women and I hope that for their sake a diplomatic release can be arranged. That said, I question the sensibility of them illegally entering a totalitarian, paranoid and antagonistic nation such as North Korea to conduct investigative journalism (effectively spying as far as this regime is concerned) and not expecting the worst if they got caught. Let's not forget, they knew (or at least should have known) what they were getting into. I also question the morals and judgment of their bosses, who either tacitly or actively endorsed such a plan to begin with. What earth shattering new information could these two possibly have uncovered to make such a risk worthwhile? Some may choose to call this courageous, but I think it was foolhardy.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  28. CK9

    to Tom Wittmann: First of all, Lee is Korean and Ling is Chinese. Second of all, those are ethnicities, not nationalities. Third, the nationality of both women would be American.

    I agree with SS... if these were white journalists, there'd be no hesitation to level with N. Korea.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  29. Gee

    People, people, people. I believe that our Lord taught us to have mercy and compassion for everyone. Even if someone has made a mistake in judgement, let's not turn cold hearts to their plight. We must be empathic, compassionate Americans or we are no better than these leaders without hearts and souls.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  30. Corey

    @Suzanne Lee

    You fail to realize that the most fervent supporter of despotic regimes in the late 20th and 21st centuries is the United States. As long as they support US interests, then they are are allies. Pinochet, Noriega, and Hussein (before he was no longer useful), all garnered huge US support, and all were tried for war crimes. Even the Khmer Rouge, whom genocided at least a million people, was vindicated by the US government, because of its conflict with Vietnam.

    The reason the US terms North Korea and Cuba as "tyrannies" is that they are not our economic allies. The crimes committed by these governments are no greater than those committed by our allies.

    These tyrannies will continue to exist, and moreover, be strengthened until US citizens recognize their role in their creation.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  31. pwo, jr.

    I am confident that our armed forces can and will destroy the current regeime in the DPRK. The reason why, I think, that the US will not go to war w/the DPRK is because Seoul in only 35 miles from the DMZ. Just across the DMZ are approximately 1 million trained psychos w/artillery equipped with biological and chemicle agents pointing south. Seoul would be destroyed, thus displacing c. 10 million resdients.
    The best way, I think, is to show N. Korea total isolation and not worry about where they will find energy or food. Korea is very cold in the winter; trust me, I was stationed there for a year. Let the DPRK rely on Kim Il Sung's theroy of juchea (sp?) and let them figure it out. I think you very well may see a groundswell of reform and see the brainwashing reversed if they are completely hungry and freezing to death. It will not be an overnight thing, however. Also keep in mind, hungry soldiers do not fight that well either.
    My $.02.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  32. sukhera

    Nick Robertson 's report on prison conditions In North Korea is useless and based on hearsay from Kumar. Why CNN could not find Ex Inmates and report their experiences in the prison. Their interviews are lot more credible than Kumar's statements. I am sure CNN can do a better job than this report.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  33. S. Britchky

    The comments here are really deep-type insights, as always. I don't see how I could improve on the wisdom, improve on the wisdom.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  34. clemsonpolitico

    How can you people say that this is a just and dignified sentencing? You say that they get what they deserve and should have known better, but we don't even know if they actually entered North Korea. NK is a ruthless nation and if any of you Americans think that two foreign reporters are justly sentenced to 12 years of torture for simply reporting in another country, then you aren't the lucid thinking Americans that you should be. good grief.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  35. Bomber

    Being russ is cold hearted and mean spirited, I assume he is a Republican. What is it about Republicans that they are so cowardly and mean?

    June 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  36. Greg

    So sad. I don't think North Korea cares at all about reports of the prison conditions getting disclosed upon their release. I honestly don't think they intend for them to leave the prison alive. Those poor women. Their poor families. My heart aches for them.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  37. Sarge in Florida

    You know I'm so sick of hearing about North Korea and their mentally deranged leader. And Gavin your comments are so hateful. You sound that you supported Bush and Cheney. I say for the USA to Nuke that Commie and get it over with. That will also show the rest of the world if you can't make peace then all evil empires will be destroyed.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  38. Mike

    Before everyone condemns the women for what you feel were unwise decisions, please be aware that these women were working on a story on human trafficking in China, very close to the North Korean border. Its possible, as they have done before, that NK border guards overzealously ventured into China to kidnap the women. We don't know the entire story, and until we do, please reserve your judgments of their judgments.

    What you heard from the KCNA is most likely completely false.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  39. jojo-bob

    Don't feel sorry for these nit-wits.

    They wouldn't be there if they didn't do what they did. Period.

    But they did and now they must face the consequences. Just like Foreigners must do in the US. Fair is Fair. Did they think this was a sorority prank and the worse that could happen was suspension. It's N. Korea you twit-heads, not University of Sunny Cal.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  40. Olivia

    Thses 2 women had no business being in North Korea. The United States should not get involved. It would be very different if they were on ally territory and kidnapped. However, they took it upon themselves to place theirselves in a county that is not accepting of their circumstances. Journalist continue to push the line for a story. When they get caught in these countries they expect to be bailed out by the United States. Why should we put our skilled soldiers in danger of losing their own lives to save these girls that made the choice to be where they are? They knew what they were doing and now have to pay the price.

    "Life is hard, it is even harder when you stupid."

    June 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  41. stuff

    did anyone ever think that n korea is lying. the journalists may have not illegally crossed the border at all, or done anything wrong at all. or do we just trust that n korea is telling the truth. they are pretty honest after all, not!!!!

    June 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  42. Skyhigh

    These reporters deserve what they get for snooping in dangerous territory. On the other hand I can just see the Navy Seals doing something to rescue them in short order. Just watch.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  43. Billy

    I agree with Kumar about North Korea using these reporters as leverage in the nuclear talks. How far will those talks go?

    The key negotiating tool is, what exactly do we have to offer the North Koreans if these two reporters are released. A prisoner exchange? Remove a few sanctions? Plead their case due to a humanitarian cause? Let us build and test nukes and then we'll release the reporters? The North Koreans will break any promise they make and they have proven that in the past.

    I have a bad feeling that we will never see those two reporters ever again.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  44. Really?

    Really people? Are we going to say they don't deserve the US's help because of their job title or the timing of there visits overseas? How can anyone that actually blogged on here say we condemn reporters? We are in fact on a blog in response to a story orchestrated by the very profession some are wiping their hands of and saying, “Oh well, they deserve it”. If that’s the stance you take, then shame on you for viewing the news, shame on you for reading the magazines, and shame on you for reading these articles and replying. That is comparable to saying “Down with Drug Dealers, excuse me while I take a toke”. Give me a break! If this were your child, your grand child, your wife, your sister, then it wouldn’t matter WHO or WHAT they did, you would want the force of God and Armies to reign down on that nation and protect her/them. They are one of us, Americans! They killed no one; they didn’t put any lives in danger other than their own to get “the story” just like those that you log onto CNN everyday to read. They weren’t taking shots of celebrities or some other mind numbing, desensitized subject such as “Who made the most money this year”, or “Worlds Most Beautiful Anorexic Woman”. The US needs to use what’s at their disposal to protect these women, they’re American’s, and they deserve that protection. I’m certain there’s a way to do this while dealing with the Nukes at the same time. Our government is capable of things far reaching our comprehension.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  45. kang

    Wow Phil, you think Korea is an island? Seriously? Are you SERIOUS? Your right to comment has now been revoked. Please dont post here again.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  46. AG

    People don't seem to realize that North Korea previously made a a regular habit to kidnap people from countries like Japan and SK for 15-20 years. The fact that they would grab someone just over the border in China can't be too shocking.

    Also, China and N. Korea aren't BFFs. China is the closest thing to an ally that NK has, but they aren't really allies. China likes the counterbalance to democratic South korea, but really just doesn't want to have to deal with millions of refugees trying to get into northern China if the North Korean leadership is destabilized. The Chinese don't much like what's going on up there, either.

    And if you people will read, Russ apologized in the sixth or seventh comment. As I see it, he realized that he had made a mistake in his first posting.

    And to the people throwing around the nuke you think that South Korea, China, and/or Russia will happily accept the idea of radioactive fallout blowing into their countries along with the refugees?

    June 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  47. Barry-O

    People – we need not succumb to these atrocities such as are being perpretated upon Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee. When I was a boy, sitting on my great uncles lap listening to his tales of freeing American soldiers from the the dispicable hands of the Nazis all the while learning the Quran and at the same time surfing in Hawaii, while being persecuted for being a black man, a black muslim educated man, a humble servant to not just America but to the world community, a community seeking to bring this once great nation back up on its feet to stand beside each other in hopes of renewing again ,,,,, scuz me homie ,,,,,, yeah you in the back ,,, I think you dun jumbled up dem two speeches I had and put dem on de same tele-pr-momp-eter ,,,, now we's all dots to starts dis whole ting ober agin

    June 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  48. Grant

    What you tolerate defines you as much as what you fight and what you cooperate with. We use China for manufacturing labor and North Korea is the direct product of the Southeast Asian political machine. We are no more going to nuke North Korea than throw away our TVs. Not to say both don't deserve it. Now it would be impressive if the US just removed them from the country. Obviously, this would be a forceful military action. The US is not obligated to do this though because these two did decide to mess with North Korea in the first place. So it is not really reasonable to think the US is obligated to rescue the reporters, so, as I say, it would be an impressive gesture if we did do it. At any rate, I think this incident demonstrates the nature of N. Korea and anyone who wants to deal with them should be ready to kill.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  49. Proud China, Stupid US

    while no one dares to threat China, US has been played by North Korea. Poor, scared US leaders, get rid off them...

    June 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  50. Linda

    John, you are so right and in addition they allowed themselves to become pawns. I am sorry for their families. I have traveled the world. I do not ASSUME my government will rescue me at all times. I do not take any deliberate risks. I do not travel to areas the government suggests I do not travel to. I try to be aware of local law and customs and follow both. Perhaps the reporters boss should be held accountable if they were on assignment. I donot feel the entire country of the United States can go to war over the risks taken by two people or one company. As heartless as that may sound, that is the reality. To risk the world for the foolishness of two young woman who did not weigh the consequences of their actions would be folly.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  51. Michelle, San Francisco

    I am sorry for the girls but let's face it, they looked for it. This was sheer stupidity – I can't believe Al Gore is behind this. We have enough problems in this country and enough to worry about right now, we didn't need this aggravation.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  52. JabbaJaw

    So why is the US looking so weak allowing these two journalists to be imprisoned in Nazi like camps? Come on USA. You have the power to go into North Korea and free all the prisoners. Please drop bunker buster bombs on Kim Jong-il's palaces and end this game.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  53. warren

    I know I'll sound like a moron for what my opinion is: I believe that we
    ( U.S.) has covert-op's going on not only in n.korea,but also in iran,
    and a couple other thorn in the U.S. side.Get The female journalist's
    out,and as surgical timing at its best,simultaneous "Big,I Mean Big
    Preemptive Strike at the Thorn's" The Administration,previous administration,the one before that all dropped the flippin BALL..LETS GET THIS ONE RIGHT!!!!!!!!!

    June 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  54. mikej133

    I agree with Michael. I've always thought of CNN as a non-biased network, but they can do better than this. This guy gives a very light version of what actually happens in these prisons. Why wouldn't CNN look at the U.S. Congressional Testimony by Ms. Soon Ok Lee, North Korean Escapee who oversaw the accounting for multiple factories. Her account depicts the brutal and grotesque reality of what happens in these "reformation" camps. From the systematic killing of babies and people drowning in "fecal pits", to the rancid living conditions and unbelievable torture methods, stories like hers is what Americans need to hear. I thought after the holocaust we vowed "never again". This country's population is dying because of its selfish government. Can we do nothing?

    June 9, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  55. James

    Call the boys in blue from Strategic Air Command and tell them where the vermin are holed in, they will take them out. Find the sicko father President and his sicko son and put them in a cage so physically close to each other that they will get any respite of peaceful sleep and turn against each other.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  56. Dominick

    I feel for them and their families but......what are they doing there anyway. I mean come on, play with fire you get burned. Maybe the US should take notice to what happens when you sneak over another countries border. We here send them to work at construction sites and landscapers and can't figure out to stop them from crossing. Try to guess how many people wil try to cross the NK border today knowing what will happen to them......Zero ! Many call it barbaric, and in a way it is. But guess what the crime rate is compared to our lovely jail system.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  57. Renee

    Russ, you are an idiot....These two reporters specifically address issues of inhumanity around the world and work for Al Gore's Network. They also swear they did not cross the border; the camera man who escaped says they were "seized". Know your facts people, know your facts, or be quiet. Explain to the four year old girl who cries out for her mommy, why she may NEVER come home, that IS tragic and these women put their lives on the line to deliver US the news of what's really happening around the world. However, it is obvious, many do not know, don't care and even when given the news, can't comprehend it properly......

    June 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  58. Mike

    Whats the problem?

    BO has portrayed the US as the torture capital of the world, didn't you know?

    June 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  59. Mike

    Keep your eyes on the ball. It is the North Korean gov't, not the reporters, who are not thinking straight.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  60. Bruce McLaughlin

    June, The U.S. is strong. One Trident submarine can destroy the entire world (200 plus warheads).

    June 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  61. Jane Smithington

    If the prisons in the U.S. were like that, maybe there wouldn't be so many criminals. The money we use to feed/board said criminals could go to causes such as the sick children at the Shriner's hospitals that may be closing.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  62. Harvey

    I am sure that the USA will do everything possible to obtain their release. My thoughts and hopes to their families. Just thought of a possible solution to obtain their release. Exchange them for one stupid human being named Russ.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  63. Jake

    A brief comment.

    The two women won't survive. Their captivity will be similar to the Nazi captivity of slaves during WW II. They will succumb to starvation of too little calories and too much energy expended.

    But, again, WHY do the two women get special treatment from the US Government ? The response by the American Feds does not happen with the thousands of other Americans who find themselves "locked up abroad" each year.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  64. Chris

    Truman should have allowed MacAurthur to drive the communists out of Korea. We would not be in this mess now.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  65. watching

    I like the part where the person being interviewed remarks that they don't have the "full story".

    Why even start talking about it then?

    The media is set up to trick people with lies and half truths.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  66. Education

    haha I would say that 60% of the people that commented on this never graduated from high school.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  67. Chris

    Suzanna Lee, I read your comment and feel I need to respond. I understand that maybe what you're saying is out of fear, because I too worry for the safety of all citizens of the world. But, killing hundreds of thousands of people to protect "our interests" is not the answer. I still feel terrible remorse that our country is the only country that has utilized a nuclear weapon against another nation and so many innocent people lost their lives because we could not be the better person. For this act alone, I do not blame the rest of the world for "hating us". That aside, there are many, MANY people that wish no harm to Americans, North Koreans or anyone else. But when we have times where a handful of desperate, or greedy people in power can commit such a horrible act with the switch of a button the whole world needs to be careful. In the end, I want so badly to believe that we're better than this as people, but even if 98% of the people in the world are good global citizens all it takes is a few people of power to threaten the welfare of all.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  68. Michelle

    These are journalists...they aren't there to help the people in either China nor N. Korea. They are there to make their names and faces famous for a story. We are going to nuke a country with millions of suffering people because of them? Please! And anyone who thinks our nation will survive if we ever nuke any other country is crazy! There is a long list of nations that will be happy to unleash their nuclear weapons on us.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  69. walter


    We build nuclear bombs so we don’t have to use them. We build them to keep generations of American young men from being drafted and thrown wave after wave into battle as their grandfathers and great-grandfathers had to endure.
    Remember America is the only country to detonate nuclear bombs on enemy targets during a war, and Stalinist tyrants around the world are quiet aware of this fact and hopefully that knowledge will keep us safe.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  70. Joe

    The report from Kumar is similar to what I had seen and been in a prison of a communist country. The US should stop provide humanitarian needs to that bs country. All they want to do is to rage wars against its own people and neighbor countries.

    A nother note, if someone wants to lose weight, just spend four weeks in those prisons, you'll see amazing outcome.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  71. gold

    These two women played with fire and got burnt. I feel horrible for them but they should have been nowhere near the North Korean border. SHEER STUPIDITY. Laura Ling's sister Lisa Ling did a National Geographic special on the horrors of North Korea. And then went on TV to plead for her sister's release. Laura Ling is being punished for her sister's documentary as much as her own actions. It was a given North Korea would treat these so called journalists harshly.

    They are pawns in a global battle, and we all are worse because of their irresponsible actions.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  72. Gavin

    Ok first things first...

    1) Gitmo and these NK labor camps are not on the same level whatsoever. Gitmo holds terrorists who have or have plotted to kill innocent people...i feel no sympathy towards them and honestly don't care what is done to those ruthless killers. NK labor camp prisoners are generally innocent people, who have spoken out against the regime, committed some minor crime, or in this case, two reporters who made a stupid decision to cross the border. By no means are these places similar simply based on the nature of the prisoners in each, so cut the crap with any Gitmo whining.

    2) Some comments asked if they "accidentally" crossed into NK. it was no accident unfortunately. the borders surrounding NK with South Korea and China are loaded up with land mines and all sorts of military blockades, so while it is unfortunate, these two women knew what they were doing and the risks involved.

    3) that being said it is absurd the charges brought against them and god willingly they will be rightfully released home sooner rather than later.

    4) you cannot simply bomb North Korea because 90% of the people living there are innocent, oppressed people who have nothing to do with the lunacy governing that nation. ONLY IF, NK ever used a nuke in an offensive manner would there be that kind of retaliation on them

    In closing, I am a extremely conservative person, but in these blog comments i saw the worst come out of both liberals and conservatives alike.

    to the idiot with the first comment (Russ)...grow up honestly

    to suzanne's comment: you are just plain stupid

    to the liberals whining about Gitmo: obviously you don't know people who died on 9/11 in the world trade center, because if you did, you would appreciate everything that Gitmo serves and stands for, because it just one of many steps taken by our former president to protect all of you from another brutal attack where the most innocent people passed away.

    thank you for you taking the time to read this if you did.


    June 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  73. Bruce

    I think what needs to be addressed here is CURRENT TVs lack of transparency on the matter.
    It will soon come out the truth about this all and how Current has lacked the GUTS to take full responsablity but has chosen the route of hiding behind there own iron curtain.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  74. Gwang

    Mark Primavera, do you want the U.S to be like North Korea?

    June 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  75. Reporters We Need

    If you believe these reporters should not have been there and deserve their fate- then watch one of their episodes on Current TV. Probably the only true reporting where viewers hear first hand accounts from the people on the streets who are suffering around the world and what their governments are doing to help or destroy them. Without these types of reporters the American public would be even more isolated and misinformed by the larger news networks who push biased reporting and sensationalized crap about reality TV. My prayers to their families, andhope they come home so they can help our country better understand the global world we live in today.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  76. Walt

    Okay it took me a while to find the link. But let's look at a strong desire for journalist to make a name for themselves. We will never be sure if these two journalist actually crossed over into NK or not. But there is precedence:

    Last year a journalist from was able to sneak some film out of North Korea. Think this aggravated NK? Sure it did. Did it make them less willing to be tolerant? Not sure, but would make sense. Now this is only one story, but there have been others.

    Did such reporting by CNN and others make journalists envious of the story? Well, given the competitive nature of the business, I would say that it did.

    Does all of this make the sentencing by NK right? Of course not. No person with a conscience would believe that! Yes, I truly believe that they are being held as bargaining chips. But was the arrest justified? Lord, I hope not, but there is precedence ...

    June 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  77. kang

    Wow, most of you guys are really stupid. First off, the 2 women are human beings, going to those prisons are almost gauranteed a death sentence for them. North Korea will never want to release them after putting them in a North Korean Prison. Second, they deserve what they got? What's the difference of news reporters, and National Geographic going in to expose the truth of what is happening in N. Korea. Humanitarian needs are not being met to any extent. The common people in outlying villages are starving and dying. When there was Food being flown to N Korea, it was seized by the military. Cannibalism isn't unheard of. Homeless children are known to go missing and never be seen again. Too many, their only hope is either to flee to China or South Korea. If not that, reporters to expose the cruelties and hardships they live in, so they can recieve international recognition of their plight and hopefully be helped/rescued. Yes North Korea is still flexing their muscle... Did you guys forget? NK and the US/SK are technically still at war.
    Before you type in your uneducated redneck responses, please think, and don't post.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  78. steveg

    Phil > what island? get a map.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  79. Jake

    I view this event as multi-faceted.

    On the one hand, the U.S. Government is investing quite a bit of press into assisting the two women. Ask yourself why this might be? The U.S. Government does NOT stand up for the average American tourist who gets into trouble, so why these two women?

    On the other hand, the American media is notorious for violating law and then taking the position that they have a "duty" to investigate matters. They often get away with it on U.S. soil because of their political clout. Recently, in CA, a "reporter" attempted to sue the Highway Patrol because they wouldn't let him take photos of an accident scene as he jumped out of his car in traffic. The public wasn't allowed to be there, but the "reporter" claimed he had the right to interfere in the chaos. (The courts ruled against him, thankfully).

    In Iraq, a group of American media types found themselves in a dangerous live fire area. They called the U.S. Military to come to their rescue. So, the American Military actually did rescue them, but only at the expense of making special tactical changes in their combat operations.

    Then, notice also, how the media hypes the death of its own. They rarely mention the reporters of the world convicted of crimes, but they front page anything in which their own coworkers get into a tight spot.

    The short of it? Perhaps the "reporters" will learn that once they leave U.S. soil, nobody cares about their "duty."

    In fact, maybe it wouldn't hurt to have a few more media types sent to prison at hard labor. After all, they usually "report" the news after they saturate their material with their own political bias. Thats called brainwashing the American public.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  80. john

    Too many reporters hide behing their credentials and think they are immune to hostile arrest and think if they are, the US will bail them out. These 2 knew exactly what the consequences were but risked it all on a story that would've been no surprise to anyone.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  81. Elliot

    Suzanne, the US hasn't built a nuclear bomb in 20 years and maintains an aging stockpile. Tell me, how many people in the world need to be nuked? Give me a number – how many civilians have to die to satiate your need for nuclear holocaust? A handful of awful dictators may deserve what's coming to them, but most civilians are just as innocent as you.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  82. Me

    Jersey Dave could be right...I read a story indicating North Korea border guards grabbed the journalists from China....the US won't really know until we can speak with the journalists.

    June 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  83. Pete

    I am amazed at the lack of knowledge about North Korea's conventional military capabilities by the people suggesting military action by the US. Are you willing to sacrafice thousands of South Koreans and at a minimun hundreds of American airmen to demonstrate a commitment to these two ladies? Let alone a situation where gound troops are used. Then the figures will reach tens of thousands. First the US population does not have the stomach for such losses and the peacenics would be marching in the streets within days of such actions. The only real hope these lasies have is for the would community to come together a stand firm against support to the north. My opinion on that happening? Fat chance!!!!

    June 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  84. SS

    Gee.... I'd bet my left arm that if these reporters were white, you people would be demanding that the U.S. do everything they can to get them back.... it doesn't matter to you all that these women are U.S. citizens, whether by birth or naturalization..

    June 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  85. chuck

    Why any person on the planet who is not from North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iran would step one big toe into any of these countries is beyond me. It's like climbing Mt. Everest, getting hurt and then expecting the rescue helicopter (paid for by taxpayers) to come and get your reckless behind for free. They should be forced to pay the price for the rescue or spend time in jail. You have not only put yourself at risk, but you have risked the lives of rescue workers and the economic stability of their families when they are gone.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  86. praying

    Mark Primavera, the comment you made about Mexican and Guatemalan is so rude and inhumane. I am not a mexican or Guatemalan, but they sneak in this country to do jobs that you would not do. Jobs that need to be done so you can survive and live the American dream. No human should be called a garbage. You are moving so far from the topic at hand.

    Let us pray for these ladies and their families. WE NEED TO CALL upon JESUS Who we have NEGLECTED OVER THE YEARS.

    Nothing is impossible for Almighty God.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  87. Ifrit

    I can't believe the number of stupid people saying we should go to war over this. Two people went to another country and broke its laws! They are in prison, yes it is a sad situation but they literally walked into it! We can't Nuke a country just because they enforced their own laws! (even if we dont' agree with them). Whats next? "Lets Nuke Europe cuz my cousin got a speeding ticket!!!" ?????

    June 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  88. brook in Canada

    I think the Journalists were mislead and taken into North Korea by a 'rogue' Guide an then arrested so the North Korea Gov't would have something to hold against the US, saying these ladies 'trespassed' into their Country....It is a totally frightening system over their,and their 22million citizens don't have a clue its even going on...very scarey....hail to the almighty ruler or your Toast!

    June 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  89. Jouk

    Al Gore’s Current journalistic ladies,
    Came too close to Kim Jong’s Hades
    Old Kim Jong said that’s wrong!
    But, what the heck, I’ll play along.

    You’re too close to our starving land,
    I’ll need you though for my nuclear stand,
    You’ll shine bright in my darkest night,
    Before I show the world my might.

    I’ll show what my might, might be,
    And I will make Obama say to me,
    Please free Ms Lee and Ms Ling,
    And I’ll agree to do your thing.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  90. Unbelievable

    The lack of immature on this board is unbelievable. Some people are so selifsh and so arrogant. The lack of education is just pathetic, people are speaking from their mind without having any substantial evidence. What ever happened to people having compassion for one another? What if that was your mother,sister,girlfriend, aunt, cousin or next door neighbour? The tables would turn wouldn't they.

    No one really knows what happened over there and may never know unless those women are realeased.

    To russ- -I'm sorry but people die everyday, maybe you should take it as a compliment that those journalists chose to write about your friend?

    June 9, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  91. Alexis

    They should be pardoned! The sentence is too harsh! Obama or someone should go in there and start "talking"!

    Or...we should just go in there and get them out. There will never be peace on this planet, so maybe just start another war. Everyone hates us(American's)anyway. It's time this big dog started biting!

    June 9, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  92. Joe

    What did these ladies expect? Sneaking into a country they should not be in. If anything, these ladies should have known that this might happen. I'm sure they will be released once North Korea gets what they want. Then these ladies will have the story, fame, & money they want. Personally, I would not bend over backwards for these ladies. Let the North Koreans keep them for a couple of years to teach them a lesson. We should make a deal with the N. Koreans five years from now. At least make 'em spend a little time in jail.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  93. SUP

    Git-R-Dun!!! go in and get our prisoners!!!!! Uncle Sam can wipe his butt with North Korea!!!

    June 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  94. Sue

    The overwhelming evidence of American ignorance shown here is staggering. (I am an American citizen and I love my country, but I'm embarrassed by what I've read here.)
    First, before you make comments, please read as many of the news reports you can so that your comments are based on the facts.
    They did not sneak into a foreign country. These reporters may not even have crossed the border. There is evidence they were kidnapped and taken to NK which has happened before.
    To paraphrase a former US president–all it takes for evil and injustice to prevail is for one good man or woman to do nothing. These reporters, and other like them, risk their lives to let the world know about the evils and atrocities that occur around the world. Humans are being sold and traded as property - yes, slavery still exists. If the rest of the world never learns about these horrible events, how can we ever hope to stop them.
    I agree that NK is ruled by an evil man. But does that mean we should bomb and kill thousands of innocents? And what happens when countries who are friendly to NK decide to retaliate because we dropped a nuclear warhead?
    Please, these two women and their families deserve our compassion and our concern. No matter what country we live in, what political party we belong to, what dogma we believe in, we are all members of the human race.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  95. Mark

    3 Words:
    Tactical Nuclear Strike

    June 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  96. R Riley

    I am sure the Girls knew the consequences of being in such a place. I have no simpathy for any news correspondance that puts themself in harms way on purpose. They all know going in what could happen. Its just a shame that all nations can't play nicely in the sand box. There always has to be a bully to ruin the fun. Shame Shame.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  97. Nelly (kamloops, BC)

    I can not believe we are letting North Korea get away with all this. I am fed up of the North Korean's terrorizing the world with all their missle testing. WHY ARE WE LETTING THEM DO TESTING!!!!! The fact that north Korea have even thought about making these weapons the leader should automaticlly be dethroned. I dont care which country this would happen to. We can not let this happen in any country.

    WHAT IS OUR SOCIETY TURNING INTO, that we need to make these terrible weapons, to use on each other. Can the countrys leave each other alone and work together.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  98. cat

    Nothing happens by accident. Those who can help are aware of the problem.

    Mark Primavera...get a life.

    C'mon you people...pointing fingers at each other will only make the problem worse. Give your support any way you can. Even if it's just closing your eyes for a moment and saying a little prayer. Human thought is very powerful, something we all have. If you have something extra to send to assist those who can so.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  99. Chad

    Carry a big stick and give the bastards some military medicine they need. The North Korean government is too stupid and gets too much pansy treatment from lawyers running our country. We need to treat them like they expect to be treated and they will learn who is the big dog on the block. They are not protected from the other super powers like they used to be. Take 'em out. There is no other solution. This war has been going on for over 50 years, enough!

    June 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  100. June

    One more thing. The two women have NOT been brave, they were
    stupid. They knew, entering the country and spying was ILLEGAL.

    June 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
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