Current TV’s Laura Ling and Euna Lee went to Asia this spring to investigate a chilling situation: the plight of women who cross the border from North Korea into China to escape starvation, only to fall prey to human traffickers. Then, suddenly, the journalists became the story, arrested for stepping into North Korean territory and thrown into jail.
[….] “Laura and Euna’s commitment to expose a terrible situation led to their arrest,” says Clothilde Le Coz of Reporters Without Borders USA. “But we depend on women like them to make sure the truth gets told. And that truth is brutal. “Refugee women are sold like livestock,” forced into prostitution or to be the wives of peasants, says Lee. Adds Ling, “They’re trading one horror for another.
[….] I hope Laura and Euna’s experience propels people to address the humanitarian crisis of trafficking. Laura Ling wants no sympathy, just change: “To take risks to draw attention to these women is part of our job. It’s why I do what I do. [Glamour Magazine]
Risks to your own safety are one thing; I can’t accept such a glib justification for risks to the safety of the vulnerable people you’re reporting about. (And yes, how quickly we forget — it’s the governments of North Korea and China that are the real villains here, and if refugees died because of this incident, it’s because the North Koreans killed them with an assist from China.)
Maybe this isn’t the time or the place for another “sorry we endangered peoples’ lives.” The womens’ apology, the interest of the greater humanitarian cause, and the support both women have offered for LiNK since their release dictate that my criticism is probably counterproductive. My admiration for Lisa Ling is undiminished; I’d have done nothing differently if I found myself in her place and had a loved one in North Korean captivity. But I don’t think I’ll ever get over my deep ambivalence about Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
It’s good to see them bringing attention to the issue … but at what cost?
Hat tip to a friend.