I read an article today on CNN.com about Laura Ling and Euna Lee being released from a labor camp in North Korea, and I cried. I'm not really a crier, but this story has been one that I've made a point to follow. I wonder why this story out of the thousands has captured my attention? Perhaps it's the intrigue of North Korea- the fact that the little we know of the country comes from aerial images from Google Maps. Or maybe because I've been in a few hairy situations in Asia- ones where I wasn't sure how the law would fall, and who might be watching. I think there's a hope when you're an American traveling overseas that there'd be a diplomat on the other side of the pond that would work on your behalf, if something went wrong.
After seeing the movie Brokedown Palace (about two Americans in Thailand) in high school, I wondered what it'd be like to be in jail in a foreign country. It would take the language and cultural barriers to an all new level. I love that Bill Clinton was the diplomat and that when the two ladies flew back into the US, he had them go first to be reunited with their families. He silently followed, minutes later, and didn't say anything to the press. For all his faults, if I were in a North Korean labor camp with a 12 year sentence, I'd want Bill Clinton to be the guy chatting with Kim Jong Il for my release.
The article ends with journalist Lisa Ling discussing her sister's return to the States. From CNN.com:
"She said her sister was looking forward to eating fresh fruit and food for the first time in four months, after many meals of rice that often contained rocks.
"I can tell she has gone through a lot," Ling said.
"My sister has an amazing, amazing spirit, and she's a little bit weak right now, so I think it's going take a little time for her to gather up her wits and be able to talk about what she experienced."
No doubt that Ling will be writing a book in the next few months, among some counseling and plenty of media interviews. I'll be picking up a copy, and interested to hear about her four months in North Korea. Note to self: Don't get 'lost' in China and wander into a country that Bush labeled in his "axis of evil"... there won't be a warm reception.