American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
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. Joel

    You know, sooner or later China is going to get tired of this puppet regime flaunting weaponry to the world. If I was in the "inside" of North Korean politics, I'd be more worried that China would crush the country like a bothersome roach than I would about the Western governments.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  2. Heywood Jablome

    How many people on this site who said "just nuke them" can find North Korea on a map?
    I'd like all of you who said that to find some historical footage of the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. Look at what that did to the people, innocent pawns like most of us here.

    It's the powers-that-be (such as Kim Jong II) that create these issues – bring back political assassinations!!

    (Now, if you just said "Yeah, right!" and didn't notice the tongue planted firmly in my cheek, then we're in deeper trouble in this country than I thought!)

    June 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  3. John

    Does a journalist/reporter's pass/ID give you the right to enter any country illegally?

    The punishment of 12 yrs' hard labor is harsh but consider it lenient since the two were accused of spying & harming the PRK. They could face the death penalty too.

    On the political front, the only language KJI understands is military force. Remember that when the US went into Iraq, KJI diappeared for a few weeks because he was concerned that PRK was in line for an invasion & one of those playing cards had his picture on it.

    KJI received all the aids from South Korea & Japan, then continued (secretly) with his neuclear ambitions. When will the free world, particularly US learn?

    June 9, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  4. dave420

    I feel that we must approach this situation in a strictly diplomatic manner (no nukes) since these reporters must have known about the possible consequences from their actions. This may unfortunately include letting the prisoners serve their 10 year sentence.

    We must regain trust and respect from the international community as a world leader that follows proper protocol even if it involves dealing with a nation with a mentally challenged leader.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  5. willdizard


    Do you even know what "international law" is? There's a thing called "international human rights law" and North Korea breaks it every second of every day of every year.

    @Everyone disrespecting journalists, especially Chris

    Do you understand the irony of your telling people not to risk their lives to bring you the news when you're on a website whose reporters do that very thing? And has done so for the past 30 years? So Edward R. Murrow in London during the Blitz or Dan Rather in Afghanistan or Anderson Cooper in Iraq shouldn't have risked their lives to exercise their rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? And for what reason should they have just stayed home? It's bizarre how many people who proclaim their pride in the United States, a pride I too share, at the same time brazenly neglect to respect its most sacred founding principles.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  6. denver dan

    What everyone is forgetting is that they broke the law! We have no problem imprisoning people here in the United States for what our law defines as a crime, which can be vastly different from what another country does.

    In North Korea if 2 idiots "snuck" (debatable) into the country and get caught, it is a crime. They knew it was a crime when they went in. But because they are US citizens, all you idiot liberal human rights activists think we need to make this a national issue? They broke the law, no difference than the US detaining people here.

    Personally, I feel N. Korea should be eliminated from the face of the earth for threatening the US again today, by saying they would launch nukes if threatened, and for continuing their testing of long range missiles.

    Bottom line: You break the law, you pay the consequences, this should not be a white house problem. If we want to go flexing our muscles over something, how about the long range nukes they are testing, that according to Secretary Gates; "we have a high chance of being able to knock out of the sky". A “high chance” is not good enough for me... Let's pick fights over weapons that can end the world.. Not two journalists.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  7. Dale

    serves them right

    June 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  8. Linda

    I have read all the posts and have attempted to satisfy everyone with this reccomendation: let's roundup all politicians, illegal aliens and emepty GITMO and out prisons send all of them to NK in exchange for the two journalists. In addition send all KFC, and McD so we can get rid of fat from our diets and improve our health. The NKs can use some fat in their diets. Any other suggestions. I perfer this to sending nukes.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  9. Scott - Puerto Rico

    Why are people comparing Gitmo to this situation? It does not matter how nice the prisoners have it at Gitmo, they are being held by America without representation! The 2 journalists in North Korea did not use good judgment by entering the country, however how would we know what is happening in North Korea if journalists did not risk their lives to tell the story? We need to hope that something can be worked out so they are released and deported back to the United States. My thoughts are with them and their families. It is also time for America to stand up once and for all to North Korea as the sanctions we have imposed on this country do not hurt the government but the people of this country. It is also time for American troops to finally leave South Korea so we can close this chapter in history and save tax dollars.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  10. Larry Scott

    In Cheney's world we should have invaded North Korea and many other soverign nations a long time ago, but we have not. Why is that?

    I will tell you why: No oil!

    And why is oil so important to Cheney and pals? Because the idea was to be kings of the world following a catastrophic pole shift they were warned about. But they were tricked into invading Iraq early.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  11. The Truth

    This highlights American ignorance. North Korea is a sovereign country, no matter wether it is right or wrong they can do anything they want in their own country to whomever they want to. American rules do not apply in other countries. International rules only apply if you agree to follow them. These reporters should have know about this before putting themselves into their current situation. Did they think North Korea would not jump at the opportunity to sieze and use them? I hope they come out ok, but its like taking a walk into the wrong neighborhood, you shouldn't be touched but how stupid are you for going in there.

    Also another fact about American ignorace. As a former member of the Armed Services that was trained in rescue operations. The government has absolutely no obligation to rescue any American citizen from any country unless the government actually put them in that situation (ie military, contractor, embassy staff etc). If you put yourself into the situation you have get yourself out of the situation. We should cut off any and all trade and aid until they are released, but not start a war over it either.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  12. pt

    >Micah McCartney
    >Easy to talk when you’ve never risked your life for anything.

    First, thank you for the personal attack against an opinion. Secondly, excellent reading comprehension skills you have there.

    You know nothing about what I have done for a living. I'm an RN and have volunteered my services in Africa, SE Asia, not to mention other dangerous areas. Put myself in many dangerous situations.

    When did I say anything me being resilient? I simply said if I took a known risk, and got into a bad situation like they did, it is no accident. I'm also not denying these women were courageous. In fact, I fully admit they are very brave.

    Doesn't change the fact that it was extremely bad judgment on their part to be even near the NK border doing an expose. It's not like Ling hasn't done exposes on China as well. The end result is now everything the world had been doing to bring down the NK regime is set back.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  13. Still Laughing

    This is my favorite response to these types of situations: "well, they shouldn't have been there in the first place. Americans need to learn to stay in Ah-mer-i-ca. Everyone knows this is the best country in the world, why would you ever want to leave?!?!"

    I am absolutely positive these responses come from people without passports. Probably never even been outside of their own county. Boy, if no American journalists ever went abroad to do investigative reporting we would have to depend on (gasp) foreigners for all our world news! How much more isolated can we get?

    June 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  14. RickyMartin is HAWT

    Bombing NK is not the answer. Why don't we go in like we did in Iraq and over throw this tool like they did in Team America, F#^*# YEA!!!

    No but really, these journalists knew that they were treading in dangerous waters, and elected to push thru with their journalistic opportunities. How they were picked up or where, is now a moot point. They are being held, so sad. There are bigger issues at hand here, and unfortunately, women are pawns everyday all over the world. Stay in your own country and don't tresspass into your neighbors. I have rosey colored glasses and Ricky Martin is HAWT.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  15. Jim Bob

    Your comments are becoming boring.

    I want Russ back!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  16. Ann

    Mark...those unfortunate people who are so miserable that they find it necessary to swim across a river or sneak under a fence to get into the U.S. are not garbage. You just happen to have been lucky enough to have been born here. How about a little compassion.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  17. DRS

    Mr. Man: Before making asinine comments online, you might want to open up that dust covered grammar text and look into what constitutes a complete sentence. That way you don't reveal what an illiterate moron you are before we ultimately make that conclusion early on as we read your drivel. Better yet, instead of embarrassing yourself online, you need to give the US military your address and an exact time when you anticipate being home so they can drop a tiny tactical warhead right down on your pointed little noggin. We citizens of the United States don't really need any more unappreciative and uninformed enemies than we already have. What a waste of fresh air you are.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  18. Jeff

    I agree completely with Michael. CNN has certain amount of leverage and influence over politics by sharing accurate information about this event. CNN has been known to focus heavily on humanitarian issues. Have they become so corporate or ignorant to the hideous and devilish conditions of North Korea? A large majority of their own population is living poverty. average height of North Koreans v. South Koreans (same culture of people) is nearly half a foot due to malnutrition. Thousands of children have cataracts and remain untreated due to an elitist-only medical community – and even that's third world! If Kim Jong Il is willing to brainwash and treat his own people in a notorious and sadistic manner, imagine what happens when he calls up Ju-che philosophy on American reporters. the internet and other investigations are replete with labor or concentration camp. I'm sorry, this interview failed to accomplish its intended goal because of journalistic ignorance. This situation in North Korea is not one you can treat like a serial thriller and keep viewers in suspense. these are Americans and the one news source that has championed this type of event has accomplished nil in term of educationing the masses on North Korean horror.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  19. noni

    Sorry – correction – meant to say North korea is a rogue nation.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  20. Grant

    Sure, nuke North Korea and wipe out South Korea in the process from the fallout and really piss off the Chinese with their nuclear arsenal. Real, real smart.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  21. Bill - From Chicago

    Could we send the Gitmo Terrorists to the Work Camps in North Korea – we would pay them for the use of their services and their facilities – we would kill two birds with a single stone here.....

    We would solve our Gitmo delimma and at the same time, forge a friendship with Kim Jung IL – the great leader.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  22. Joseph

    I don't agree with all the people who said to nuke NK, they can also nuke us and that would just be udder destruction.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  23. noni

    I am a long time immigrant who is always amazed at the paranoia expressed when things like this happen. Suddenly its dangerous everywhere other than the US. Its ironical that when I first came here I was warned by my countrymen about crime/gun related activities to watch out for in the US since their own experiences werent happy ones. Sure enough I was mugged in NYC in the early 90's. So in many countries there are 'safe' and 'unsafe' zones and unlike many eastern countries guns are freely owned and easily obtained under the constitution in this country and not always to defend.
    Korea however is a rogue nation and cant be compared to most other countries.
    Regarding the journalists – yes they should have known better than to wander so far but its done. Now a solution has to be worked out and taking a cowboy atitude when the ruler of the country is a madman with one finger on a nuke or biological weapons that can blow up the world in seconds or destroy livelihoods (many countries depend on farming and livestock for survival), bringing devastation and major health issues (remember chernobyl?) for generations in many countries for years to come is not the answer.
    And where exactly would you aim the bombs you want to drop? What about north Koreans who are suffering already? Should we just ignore their misery? Have we not already made the world a more dangerous place with our foreign policy and actions?
    my thoughts and prayers are with the families of these 2 journalists at this very difficult time.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  24. Royce

    Reading over these comments, there seems to be a large amount of ignorance, sadly. "Bombing" or "nuking" N.Korea is definately not the answer. There are hundreds of thousands of people being held there against their will, in camps that can be compared to Jewish concentration camps. Also, killing N.Korea's citizens is not the answer- they are all basically brain washed into worshipping Kim Jong Il's regime. It's sad, and I've seen it first hand. I've visited the DPRK once.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  25. Bill

    They got what they deserved. Pompous Americans always thinking they can go into another country and do as they please. It's not like they were heading to downtown Dallas to do a story, they knew what they were getting into when they flew into a communist nation and then breached the borders of a very reclusive communist regime. North Korea did not go into China and kidnap these two ladies; they obviously crossed the border being overzealous.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  26. anwr

    do you think ANYONE deserve what goes on in these prisons? (except the people who perform these atrocities..)

    June 9, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  27. Bill - From Chicago

    You know, maybe we are too paranoid about what China and Russia will do should we take military action against the North Koreans.

    They have done nothing to intervene thus far – even when NK detonates Nukes underground, they do nothing – maybe it is time to do a little testing of our own here. I say their Yellow – let's find out!

    Nuke option off the table, but maybe a little Army Ranger / Marine Recon or Navy Seal mission is in order – I would love to read the paper and see those headlines – stick it right up North Korea, Russia and China's backsides.........hummmmmmm So much for my liberal agenda, time for action baby!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  28. topper68

    The sentence for illegal entry into the USA can be up to 10 years in a federal prison. Not hard labor...and not in a North Korean prison. Does the crime fit the punishment. No. Is there a precedent here in the an extent. Are they being used as pawns in a larger political situation? of course...but to what extent.
    Who has the answers? No one. Who knows what "Dear" leader is thinking if he is at all at this point? No one but him..and possibly his appointeted/annointed posible successor...another more virulent version of Kim...his son. Who by the way also was in another country under an assumed name to obtain the education necessary to become the next in a succesion of dictoators in this country who has technically been at war with S.Korea since the 50's. It's 2009. They have been at war since about '53...approx 56 years. When will that end. When was the last war in this world other than the 100 year war that has been allowed to go on for this long by a world community that supposedly prizes peace and prosperity?
    Please support these two reporters and all like them that were performing in the service of the 4th estate to effect a change that is beneficial to the world..not just one or two people.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  29. carol

    i dont think the north koreans will seperate the issue and as long as the us try to keep it seperate there will be no release. I hate to say it but I would not be supprised if the girls do not make it our alive. It is sad to say and dont really want to think about it but with the way North Korea has been acting lately I think the will try and make US jump thru a lot of hoops and in the end do nothing to release the girls alive

    June 9, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  30. me

    The North Korea should should them on camera and make an example out of them. They have no business going into a country without permission.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  31. Chris

    We should send a representative to march right over the border into North Korea alone and demand the immediate release of those women!

    Rush Limbaugh would be perfect.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  32. Gavin

    Dan McLean:

    America is doing "bad" things to who have murdered or hope to murder innocent people out of shear hatred...

    most of the people in these north korean labor prisons are innocent people who maybe spoke out against the regime, took part in a minor crime, or like these two women who illegally crossed the border...

    the crimes of the people in these labor prisons is no way close to the TERRORISTS at GITMO.

    i love it how some people still, even after reading numerous posts on this blog, cannot get that simple fact through their heads

    June 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  33. Mariel

    So many opinions out there on those who made harsh and ignorant comments. But thats what makes thw world go round. Its a balance in life. U.S. cannot go to war with N.K., people you forget that China and them are buddies. And regardless of the fact, they will back them up. We have much history with china as well, and losing them would mean that we lose trade among other things as well with them. There are a lot of countries that do not like us. Imagine a WWIII. I believe we would lose. What we have Japan, a small country, South Korea... who else... Some countries would not want to join the war. A lot is at stake, I feel for these women and my heart goes out to them always. And those who still think we are not the most powerful country in the world... guess again. We may be in recession, but we are very powerful. And regardless of the situation... the U.S. is a great place to live. And those of you who down on your own country who fought for your freedom.... leave why stay in a place you don't like!!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  34. Sup3rman

    This website censored/omitted my first post.

    It was a post in favor of giving the North Korean Governement what they want, War.

    I am tired of waking up everymorning and listening to their rhetoric.
    Lets hit them before they hit us.

    Let's get our girls back.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  35. The Voice of Truth

    What's amazing to me here is that there are alot of people that are trying to impose the American freedoms on the whole world. Everyone in the world does not have the freedom of speech! Although I'm glad I have it, I don't think everyone should. I actually sometimes wish we didn't. I'm sick of hearing the crap coming out of the mouths of stupid people. Most of them are "journalists" who think that it's their God given duty to tell everyone about everything. They believe they should be able to go anywhere & do anything in order to get this info. 12 years isn't enough...

    June 9, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  36. subtlesubtitles

    i feel great shame in america that the only way people would care about this if it were to white journalists. just when i think ignorance might be waning, something like this happens and i get to read classic idiotic remarks.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  37. gary

    Tom: "I am of the belief that once you leave the USA borders, you are on your own". Congratulations! You have officially destined yourself (albeit with a little help from American propaganda) to be ignorant for the rest of your life! I'll wager that you come from many generations of passport-less rednecks. And "send in some Delta force"? Are you 12 years old? Please send me your "infiltration" plan. I'll make sure it gets to the proper authorities and possibly director Michael Bay.
    Wesley: I believe you are missing the point. Perhaps several points. The first is that in North Korea the majority of inmates are imprisoned for "atrocious crimes" such as stealing food to feed their starving families or being caught in possession of a cellular phone. And in regards to you "country club" comment, the U.S. has some harsh prisons and it has some "mellow" prisons but you should understand that it has little to no affect on the surrounding crime rate. Take a look at foreign prison systems vs crime rates. With the exception of authoritarian regimes, most countries with lower crime rates also have relatively hospitable prisons.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  38. LPL

    I just need to clarify that this is NORTH KOREA, and not SOUTH. Second, I feel bad for the journalists and their families for going through this. However, why go there if they know how risky it is to cross the boarder? Don't they realize that NORTH KOREA is messed up and desperate for attention?

    June 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  39. John H

    The guy being interviewed says we supposedly don'tknow that much about what goes on inside the NK prisions.

    Not true. Former prisoners and even former guarcds have testified before the US Congress and have told their stories extensively elsewhere.

    Paste these links into your browser:

    June 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  40. Robert

    Russ, you need to separate the two events.

    The two reporters who have been sentenced to hard labor in NK, deserve our sympathy and our help.

    The other reporters you mentioned did a reprehensible thing to your friend but their actions do not make all reporters comparably guilty.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  41. Jody

    Wow. This is crazy.

    Opening Argument seems to be that they were actually in DPRK. I will humbly change my views if that is different. While we should encourage other states to respect the freedoms we hold dear (freedom of the press included), those young ladies may have to suffer the consequences for thier actions: "You pays your money, you takes your chances," as the saying goes. That is why SECSTATE is talking to the Koreans, to encourage respect for a free press, but the reporters may have a long 12 years ahead of them.

    Why is GITMO mentioned here? Yes, it is significantly more humane than any DPRK prison. No we are not torturing people there (BTW, waterboarding is not torture. It isn't pleasant, but not torture. If it's so bad, where's the outrage been for the past 20 odd years we've been using it on our own troops for training?) The folks held at GITMO were found pointing a gun at us in foreign countries. As far as I know, Non US citizens waging war against the good ol' US of A while overseas isn't something you can be tried for in US courts. So we treat them like we would a POW, even though they are not uniformed troops of a foreign country, so they are not POW's. Hence the "Enemy Combatants" label.

    Truthfully, I don't even know why I'm wasting my time writing on a message board. All of the comments are so filled with uninformed rhetoric where there is no actual dialog. Just schpewing comments into cyberspace. I guess I should find something more productive to do at work than try to read news articles...

    June 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  42. Alex Ayala

    Come on people, this is a classic political strategy between the U.S. and a dictator. Neither journalist will ever place one foot in their secretive prisons. They will be treated well until, through some political or economic incentive, our government manages to get them out. We just have to give them time and have to play their game. I'm sure they'll be out in less than 5 months.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  43. Cookie

    Al Gore should go over there and bring these women back home. I'm sure he can pay off Jong Il with the millions he made on his global warming tour. C'mon Al – flex those muscles!!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  44. YaWi

    To Mark Primavera:

    People like you make me sick! You call other people "garbage"??? If I am not mistaken, European immigrants poured into America because noone wanted them in Europe or because they wanted a better life for their families. So you deny those people the same possibilities your ancestors demanded for their families (unfortunately, including you)? Also, those people work for a living (a bare living) by cutting grass but they do not take away the land of the people who lived here first (go to a reservation and learn, stupid).

    To the issue: Yes, I believe the two ladies are stupid since it is known that NK is not a friendly country and one has access to some information about the living standards there; therefore, they played knowingly with fire and got burned. I believe the US will have to pay a hefty price for their release which the government sholuld demand back from the two journalists in one form or the other (there was no need to expose yourself to this risk).

    Again, Mark Primavera, you make me sick!!!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  45. Michael

    Air Strike! Nuff said.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  46. dale

    These two women deserve what they got. What makes them think that just because they think they are journalists that they can break laws for the sake of a story. I will pray that god keeps them from harm, but they desrve what they got. As far as North Korea is concerned, just let them know that any act of aggression on their part and their country would be wiped from the face of the earth. In reality we dont have a politician alive who has the balls to do what it takes to win a war or stomp out terroism. Of course the USA as a whole is not saint either, just look at our moral decay, low ethics, and corrupt big business.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  47. Tim Wall

    Thank you to all my fellow level headed Americans who responded to the hateful, shortsighted, and ignorant comments made by others, who I won't name.
    Our respect for the rights of all is what sets civilized people from sociopathic barbarians like Kim Jong-Il.
    Maybe the attention focused on Gitmo and Korean prisons will encourage us to look at our domestic prison system and it's rampant violence, gang warfare, rape and other attrocities.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  48. woodyablo me

    homy don't play dat'

    June 9, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  49. RICK R

    We better do something (america) about this before its too late!
    No good can come out of this

    June 9, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  50. Joshua

    In reply to Suzanne Lee, if we go around and just start nuking every country we want when will we be next. Do you even know how many countries have nukes? By the time we launched our first bomb we would be next. And that's not even the biggest issue that we all should have a problem with, what about the everlasting effects on the people of the nation we nuke and the innocents that would suffer and die for the sins of their government. You make Americans sound ignorant and conceded. You really should reconsider your words before you speak.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  51. Raymond Lee

    RUSS: You don't seem mean, just idiotic.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  52. pleasereadthis

    Please this fully:;col1

    "Revisiting the Korean: tree-trimming incident"

    June 9, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  53. Steve

    North Korea's taking of journalist as hostages, regardless of nation of origin, is ominous. However , the level of thoughfulness reflected by some of the above comments is even more of a concern. The suggested use of nuclear weapons is insane. Blaming the hostages is simply perverse reasoning. The less the U.S. says and does as a nation, the more responsibility will, by necessity, be assumed by Japan, South Korea, China, and perhaps Russia. They have much more to lose/gain by the actions of North Korea.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  54. Karl

    I like the fact that no one notices over the years that when nukes are tested that there are earthquakes that happen 2 days to 1 week after, hmmm push rock and it has to go somewhere........

    June 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  55. Kath

    We can all criticize, complain, and offer up all kinds of solutions. But, if we were the family of these 2 journalists, or we were the ones in charge, I'm certain that it wouldn't be half as easy to solve as we'd like to think. I would never want my children in harm's way because of a nuclear holocaust that we started. Let's face it, there is nothing that's easy about solving this situation with the North Korean government. They are the devil's problem. I'd like to stay to hell away from them and keep with our allies that feel the same as we do. Strength in numbers! In the meantime, I hope the 2 women are freed. That's the humane thing to consider in all of this.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  56. Sup3rman

    To WOW,

    Give me a break, "10-1"- the army of china has nukes.

    No. 1) Do not be frieghtened of the chinese, I think in the case of North Korea threatening nuclear attack, we can count on the Chinese and the Russians for help in dealing with these guys.

    No 2) Just so you know, the chinese have a limited asenal and couldn't hit nevada on clear day.

    No3) Lets say the army did out number us 10-1, they still have to cross the pacific ocean. Mighty hard to do when it is glowing in the dark.


    June 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  57. Dan McLean

    I love how people criticize Obama for not condoning torture by saying that North Korea is really bad too. As if "Because North Korean prisons do bad things so America can and should too". How moronic an argument is that? As intellectuals, you lose by default.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  58. A.Louise

    All of you who think that they shouldn't have been over there at all ... do you not care about the truth? Do you not care about what is happening in other countries? Who do you expect to learn the truth from if not from journalists?

    Maybe if the news you read is about Brittney Spears' latest thong or whatever Paris Hilton is doing today YOU don't care about the truth. I for one am glad that someone is willing to dedicate themselves to something bigger and more important.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  59. ES Blofeld

    People, we still have no idea whether these journalists were even IN North Korea when they apprehended. DPRK soldiers have in the past crossed into China to arrest photographers on the Chinese side of the border.

    Plus, these reporters weren't even investigation the DPRK regime- their story was on human, specifically women, trafficking. These women aren't ambulance chasers or political provocateurs, as some commenters seem to think.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  60. Bobb

    Assuming these two journalists did cross the border illegally I believe that they took a risk and we aware of what could happen. I do think that a federal investigation should be done. If it is determined that the journalists were not inside the Korean border illegally something should be done. With all of the nuclear tensions with Korea I have one word and its not sanctions.....Korea right now is laughing at our sanctions......I think we should do a total blockade. Dont let anything in or out.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  61. Gavin


    100% agreed with you that they should be freed.

    Unfortunately though, we are dealing with a maniac on the level of Castro, Stalin, Hitler, I have a feeling its not going to be a simple and happy ending solution

    June 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  62. john

    Don't worry I'm sure that our president will use every diplomatic option available and talk, threaten and negotiate for twelve years when he will finally win their release. This will be proof that diplomacy works! Oh, I forgot, he will also be sure to apologize for all of the evil things the US has done to North Korea.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  63. Jim

    China could end this in 5 minutes. NK gets everything from the Chinese. The good news though is that China holds our debt and does not want to see us attacked.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  64. Doug

    Nuking North Korea isn't an option. I served 40 months on the Island of Okinawa and have many friends there. My wife's family is there as well. When we consider attacking North Korea, we must think of our allies who live in the neighborhood. Okinawa is minutes away from that Idiot in North Korea as the missle flies. I wish North Korea was an isolated small island somewhere so we could just sink it and be done with it. Kim Jong sicko will get his in the end.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  65. Micah McCartney

    And I beg to differ, "pt." No matter how tough or resilient you think you are, 12 years of hard labor straying to close to a border would rub you the wrong way. Easy to talk when you've never risked your life for anything.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  66. Teana

    i hope the States do something about these two women...maybe it was all a mistake, if they didn't know the territory very well and they were into thier work and got caught on the wrong side big deal...let them come home where they belong..They have served the U.S. now let the U.S. serve them..Get these women home!!!!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  67. Lisa

    Almost all of you people are under the impression that these 2 young woman should serve the 12 years in prison...It is almost a definite possiblity that they will DIE before the 12 years is up!! I'm sorry but their crime does not equal death while imprisoned. Add to the fact that (as already stated above numerous times) that not ALL the facts are known. The truth is we can all speculate and theorize until the the cows come home but until we get all of the facts (which may never happen) then we have no right to judge anyone.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  68. Micah McCartney

    Most of you guys are all ignorant and have no idea about North Korea's foreign policy (Juch) or human rights (ie: suggesting we annihilate thousands of people over the actions of a regime they have no say in).

    June 9, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  69. pvenrt

    "Ok ok ..Kim Jong Il here's your million barrels of oil, thousand tons of rice, 2 bottles of Chivas, and Bring It On 2 dvd. Now send em back."
    "And you two ladies, when you're hocking your backgrounds on the $22,000 per event speaker circuit, post-pulitzer, remember to give back to the country that covered your loss when you played a game you thought existed called heads-I-win-tails-you-mean-I-can-actually-lose?."

    June 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  70. Stan

    Why isn't Al doing anything? Because he's got no moral fortitude, that's why. Some years ago, I remember employees of Ross Perot were similarly captured. Now, Mr. Perot knew how to obtain the freedom of HIS employees. Unfortunately, Mr. Gore is still trying to figure out what to do with his "lock box". We'll soon see if the CinC has the fortitude to do what's necessary.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  71. pt

    First off, Lisa Ling is an American Born Chinese, not Korean. To the ignorant person who posted that she is Korean.

    >>The lack of empathy on this blog is unfortunate…

    On a human level, of course I feel sorry for anyone locked up in NK and their families.

    But on a purely logical level, what they did was not only a danger to themselves, but also partly selfish. The US had been trying to advance diplomacy in bringing down the NK regime and it was working. Now thanks to these two, the US (and the world) is set back many steps. Basically, these two handed KJI an ace card when he was runnin gout of cards.

    This was not an unfortunate accident. If I chose to go near NK to do an expose and I was kidnapped, or to Iraq and landed on a mine; I really wouldn't expect anyone to feel sorry for me.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  72. Mike@INW

    Who is to know if these 2 women were even in NK, Kim Il boneheads record of kidnapping and abductions speaks for itself. I feel for their families and Euna's little daughter. Military action is the easiest thing to think of but it will condemn south korea, they are in a bad place. I want more help from the Chinese and Russians: after all they helped create this bastard. 5 years after WWII, helping the chinese get rid of the japs and creating the 2nd front russia so desperately needed to defeat hitler on the motherland, this is how they repaid us. The Korean conflict, been paying for it since 1950. What a joke, that is the UN for you, where are they now? Lets see if the new administration has the guts to play hardball and get his hands dirty.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  73. Brett

    Nuking North Korea as was suggested by some of these less than educated commenters is ridiculous. Most of the people in North Korea are innocents who fear for their life. If anyone were to speak out against government policy, they would find themselves in a Hard Labor Camp, as well.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  74. Bill - From Chicago


    Though I do appreciate your very intellegent and well stated response to my remarks about Bush being the reson for all the made me realize that I was wrong – what I should have said was that he in no way did anything to help build respect for our values across the globe – he was like the fuel on the fire.....but enough about him!

    This is about the two journalists – do we at least agree that they should be freed?

    June 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  75. observer

    As I read this, it is very easy to tell which ones are written by the Democrats. Why are all of you so angry? I was surprised at the rude, denigrating, hateful remarks posted here. Most posts couldn't seem to complete their comments without name calling. Where are the Democrats I used to be so proud of?

    As a registered Democrat, who voted for Obama, I can't remember the last time I was this disappointed in someone I voted for. Bush certainly didn't win any awards for his foreign policies and has strained world relations. However, now that Obama has returned from his "Apology to the World" tour, I think we can safely say he hasn't done anything to mend those fences; nor has he done anything to help the economy. Anyone who thinks 8 years of President Bush harmed the economy, might want to take a close look at what 4 1/2 months of Obama has done.

    I guess my only choice now is to denounce both parties and become an independent.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  76. Wyatt

    Russ, Suzanne, Martin, and Tom Wittman are all racist. Would they say those comments if the reporters were white female. Annette, you redeem Latina's from some negative comments among Latinos. They are still alive so there should be no condolences.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  77. Phila, PA

    KOREA! – this country is the one that doesn't have any oil, but is certainly more deserving of military intervention that those oil-rich clowns in the Middle East.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  78. tom

    Don't you worry, our crack leaders are on the case. Both Clinton and Obama have stated they won't stand for this. Of course they sed the same thing about N Korea regarding missle and nuke tests with absolutly ZERO action.

    I am in good hands with my Washinton leaders.

    I AM being sarcastic.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  79. Leslie D'Amico

    The comments on this story are the price we pay to live in a free country, the time I and all other veterans spent in the Army is the price we paid to defend freedom of speech. It is too bad that these reporters got caught while doing their chosen bit to enlighten the world about the North Koreans. I hope that our government can resolve this issue sooner rather than later. In the meantime while I don't agree with "Russ" and others, it is their right to voice their views. It is the hardest thing in the world to defend someone's right to free speech when you don't agree with it. But that is exactly what free speech is about.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  80. Jabba

    If I remember correctly, the border where these reporters were arrested is very debatable. I think NK is going to use this capture to its maximum benefit which means getting some type of concession from the US.

    What really needs to happen is for China to step in and set them straight. The US can't do it without NK losing face.

    For all those wishing we'd nuke them are idiots. Do you really think it would end there?

    NK's economy is in the crapper. They don't even have enough food to feed their population without outside help. If we continue to further embargo NK, they might not have a choice but to go on the offensive.

    And starting a bombing campaign won't help either. They have hundreds (if not thousands) of artillery pointed at South Korea. They'd probably level Seoul before the whole conflct even got off the ground. If you think the economy is bad now, think about what would happen if a conflict started.

    And did you forget that we're already fighting two fronts? If we open a third, where do you think we're gonig to get all these troops from? Will you be volunteering? Let's see how much you want the US to start a conflict once they draft your ass and throw you on the front lines.

    Let's hope the Dictator's son is not as crazy as his father.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  81. Sup3rman

    I don't care wich side of the border these two American Citizens were on. 12 Years ??????????
    North Korea couldn't be sending us and the rest of the world a clearer message. It is obvious that if tentions werent what they are right now that these two girls would have received a much lighter sentence (probably deportation) .

    Norht Korea intends to use them as a bargaining chip in a bid to reduce sanctions.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  82. Tammy Gail

    I think that the political games being played by North Korea is rediculous on all counts. They are "pushing their limits" to see how far the U.S. will allow them to go ...We tell them not to test missiles and the do, We ask for the freedom of these 2 journalists, they give them 12 years hard labor – I for one believe in America – If they are going to continue to be defiant to the the international team...then why don't we just level the place? Yes, innocent people's lives will be lost, but that is all apart of life when it goes to war. I don't feel that giving these 2 gals 12 years is justice for war, but the intentional defiance they have continued to show is. Take care of business and stop messin around...Keep waiting and it'll be US that they surprise , instead of the other way around.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  83. DW

    Good point Don...all those beer dinking idiots....Bush caused all these problems....he sent those poor reporters over there....he developed the swine flu.....he started the viet nam war....he cancelled Married with Children....hate, hate hate! said Russ is full of hatred...better take another look in the mirror, sounds like you have a problem with beer drinking, Texas hedges?!?!?!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  84. DK

    Wow... the comments on these boards really bring out the bias, vitriol and short-sighted un-intelligence from people.

    1 – Western journalists have no protection going into hostile environments... particularly when they are in a country illegally. I have compasion for these 2 young ladies, but they knew the circumstance when they went in there.

    2 – I'm already OVER the idiot right wingers trying to blame Obama for everything. You had the previous 8 years to screw everything up and did a wonderful job at that. Now SHUT UP.

    3 – If you are a proponent of using nuclear weaponry against entire cultures without fear of reprisals from the international community, you are an idiot. Not to mention the toll on our environment. Go see the movie Wall-E. Yes, it's meant for children, but there is an underlying message that even narrow-minded adults should be able to understand. Our world is fragile as is the human race. Respect it.

    I feel badly for these journalists, but our country can not continue to try to fill the role of world police. It is that, ultimately, that will bring the empire that is the USA to an end eventually. And that's sad because our freedoms and civil liberties will crumble as part of the process.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  85. Ryan

    Too political for me..

    I think its all just a propaganda hoax for Kim Jong Il to use as a bargaining tool. Im sure they will be released the same way the girl in Iran was.. I wish them luck!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  86. Bill - From Chicago

    Let's get something straight – these two American Journalists could never get a fair trial in North Korea – also, the alleged crime does not fit the punishment. It is like saying FOX news is fair and balanced and actually believing it – come on people. Really, fair trial, Really?

    They should be let go yesterday....

    June 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  87. Jon

    Oh yea, and about economic sanctions...don't any of you remember why Japan really attacked Pearl Harbor? It's because of OUR economic sanctions which cut off their oil supplies, which led to them initiating a war of aggression to capture countries that can provide them with oil. What do you think will happen if we instill economic sanctions that will cripple NK economy/military? They'll throw a temper-tantrum, cry it out and then say they're sorry? Quit acting like you know everything, because obviously you don't.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  88. Judge Smails

    After reading the aboveand in particular A. Louise, perhaps NK will read these and release them. Knowing some of the above vote is by far a harsher penalty....

    June 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  89. Robert Mercy

    I'm impressed by the number of comments this latest Korean incident has generated. There is so little written on the psychological and cultural make up of the North Koreans, but I came across a most recently published book on the Korean War entitled I HEAR NO BUGLES. It was written by an American infantry sergeant who commanded an all Asian assault platoon during the first year of that war. The author's lucid descriptions on the sheer savagery of the NK gives us all a clearer insight on the insane brutality that these two hapless reporters will be facing. Their story-and I HEAR NO BUGLES, would make a great movie, but like most uncomfortable truths they would have a limited audience.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  90. beth

    I too think it VERY sad for the comments on this blog. First of one knows at this time exactly where these women were. So I find it very unfair to judge. Second, I'm not a journalist and probably neither are most ppl on this blog. So I don't think we understand the compassion one has for getting stories and letting the world in on what really goes on in other parts of the country. We have helped many causes in this world by journalists doing what these women were doing. I'm sure the families of these women were scared but proud of what they were trying to accomplish as I hope we would all be with our family and friends. Shame on all of you for being so negative, mean, and so uncaring. I think it really tells as to the ppl you all really are. And THAT is pretty scary!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  91. Gavin

    Bill From Chicago:

    look my friend, these people, the terrorists, have had an inherent hate for our country and our values for decades now.

    the hatred was there long before bush buddy, so don't blame him for it.

    think about what you just said for a minute...that george w. bush is the reason we are hated by islamic terrorists and he is the reason why 9/11 occurred. i'm also guessing it was GWB's fault for the WTC bombing in the 90's too...

    honestly, regardless who you support or how you think GWB was as a president, to say that he is the reason why we are hated by Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists is not only absurd, but ENTIRELY FALSE.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  92. Andre

    They knew this is a hostile country, they should be more careful when they were going in the first place ! What would happen if two North Korean reporters were caught doing same in USA? Then our media would justify their sentencing as spies.... no problem. Also, this nuclear talk is ridiculous… who are we to talk about nuclear tests? It would be the same as if A-Rod was criticizing rookies who just tried steroids. It’s a JOKE! Aren’t we the only country in the world that used A-bombs to smash two cities and kill thousands civilians and mess up generations with radiation?

    June 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  93. eamon

    Am I the only one who doesn't care about this whole situation. In my opinion these two ladies broke the law and will now pay that price. (It's a sad story for sure but it's one that plays out everyday and we don't care about those people.)

    Unless of course you want the united state to meddle in the affairs of another country and be the worlds policeman. It was my understanding that we don't do that anymore.... I could be wrong of course

    June 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  94. Randy

    My first question is why on earth did these journalists go there? They knew the consequences of getting caught. It’s their own fault and stupidity. Because of the idiocy of these two journalists, the government will have to worry besides all other important challenges that we currently face. Although I do sympathize with these journalists, this stupidity and ignorance provides a lesson that if you sit on a burning stove, your ass is going to burn. Don’t blame the stove, you idiots.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  95. WOW

    Suzanne Lee, you Madame scare me! Use nukes because we are the big kid on the block. I'm no dove and fully support force where and when needed but the might makes right ideal has never worked for me. Casual statements about who we should nukecome to easily- I really wish people understood what the statement means and what unleashing nukes could do on a large scale. Sure we could nuke the heck out of North Korea, but do you think China whose Army out numbers us 10-1 and who also has nukes will be happy about it. And surely women locked up will be freed by your ploy–freed by nuclear fire.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  96. Juggz

    Sorry, but I have no sympathy for these women. They knew the risks and accepted them. This reminds me of the Singapore incident when the guy was caned for the grafity. If you don't place yourself in a situation you won't have to deal with it.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  97. Corey

    oh and BTW, they weren't found in somewhere in the bushes, lost, asking for directions back to China...they were at a North Korean Village, with cameras and voice recorders. one of the villagers probably ratted them out in exchange for some pork chops!

    June 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  98. Linda

    I agree with:
    Bill – From Chicago ..... solution – lets send Blago and his good buddy Senator Burris over there and if they negotiate the release will clear them of all charges, and if the North Koreans take em hostage…so be it….i see that as a Win-Win!
    BUT only if they also take what was said by rjn ..... we exchange the reporters for Hillary and Nancy Pelosi that will teach North Korea what torcher really is!!!!Let’s toss in Al Gore too so he can bore them to death!!!
    As sad as it is the two women cannot risk a world to rescue them. As unfair as it may be – as illegal we may judge the acts of NK to be there is much more at risk than the life of two women who miscalculated.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  99. John

    I can't believe all the closed-minded, hateful, violent remarks regarding wishes to drop a nuclear weapon on another country–or even start a war with another country when our resources are spread so thin as it is.

    I don't think that killing millions in fiery genocide is going to solve the world's problems, guys. Take a glance at history–it's never worked before.

    June 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  100. American Alex

    I cannot believe some of the comments I just read, it's truly sickening. It's people like you that cause me to feel ashamed of my countrymen.

    I spent last summer traveling through Europe. Half my time was spent dispelling American stereotypes, not because they are untrue but because they are not representative of me and those I associate with.

    America was supposedly founded on the belief that all men were created equal, and all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or did some of you miss that day of elementary school? IMMIGRANTS MADE THIS COUNTRY – sooner or later this country's racist/bigots/rednecks/etc. will have to face that fact...although I did hope Obama's election would provide some support to this. You can't blame him for America's terrible people coming out of the woodwork, only for trying to dispel them.

    I'm proud of my country for attempting diplomacy in such an instance. It shows we are self aware, level headed, and truly take care of our own – an excellent message to send to the world right now. I can understand the precedent some are worried about North Korean negotiations setting, but I believe it is time to tell the world we are willing to talk, while unwilling to be pushed.

    As for those of you that still hate everyone who's not a white christian, I'll save you the trouble of developing a sound and original argument to my comments. I'm Jewish, a democratic and an east coast city dweller. What an evil misguided person I must be 🙂

    June 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7