Current TV Will Air Documentary on Ling-Lee Incident

You know, I was just thinking that it’s been a while since we’ve had a nice flame war over this.

The network announced Sunday that Laura Ling and Euna Lee will tell their story in a 30-minute episode that will kick off the fourth season of the documentary series “Vanguard” on May 19. The journalists, both staffers for the series, were held captive by the North Koreans for more than four months after they briefly entered the country by crossing a frozen river at the Chinese border in March 2009. They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor before their pardon and release was negotiated with the help of former President Bill Clinton.

At the time of their capture, the women were working on a story about human trafficking. Their detention created a tense international incident that drew in top White House officials and sparked vigils around the country on their behalf.

The special, “Captive in North Korea,” features interviews with Ling, Lee and their producer, Mitch Koss, who have until now not spoken on camera about their experience. The episode, reported by fellow “Vanguard” correspondents Adam Yamaguchi and Mariana Van Zeller, will also include footage of their emotional reunion with their colleagues. [L.A. Times, Show Tracker Blog]


  1. Oh dear, I think we should all not watch this 30 minute piece of rubbish about some obsolete women cashing in on the misery of North Koreans. Let me guess, this feature will proably try to suggest that these two soppy teabags didn’t do anything wrong, were brutally abducted, only had beans and rocks for dinner and missed out on four whole months of shopping.

    Really people, it will be more interesting to read the local phone book for 30 minutes than watch this piece of cretinism.

    Und Madame Li & Ling, please let me know when your book can be bought for 25 cents at Walmart as it then will be more cost effective for me to burn the stove. Can I also suggest to consider more rudimentary tasks rather than walking into NK, like cooking, as burgers don’t flip themselves.

  2. I had always assumed that Mitch Koss has never said anything in order to “save it up” for the eventual TV show. Smart thinking. I’m sure that everyone will be completely satisfied with his comments.

  3. Theresa wrote:

    Let the flames begin!

    Don’t look at me. I’ve already shot my wad.

    I am totally gonna watch it!

    I actually will, too. And I will get a hold of the book, too, to read it for where it addresses my concerns. I’m planning to borrow it from the uni library, but I told Lisa Ling by email that if she sends me an advance copy, I’d donate her half of what I would have paid at Border’s to LiNK.

  4. Perhaps the women were sufficiently chastened by the mixed reviews their actions received that they will give the lion’s share of the limelight to the refugees they purported to cover.

    But who watches current tv and where? I’d never heard of it until Ling-Lee.

  5. slim wrote:

    … that they will give the lion’s share of the limelight to the refugees they purported to cover.

    That is addressed in the link I provided above, but she says clearly here:

    First of all, though I am a co-author on Somewhere Inside, I am not making a penny from the book sales whatsoever. I am donating my entire portion to LiNK, CPJ and RSF.

    However, she has given no such indication that her sister will do the same (or won’t, for that matter), saying she doesn’t speak for her sister.

  6. I will bet a souvenir North Korean stone that there is absolutely no mention of the details involving their capture by North Korea on March 17. However it’s worth noting that Mitch Koss, who escaped capture by North Koreans, has nothing else to contribute aside from his version of what happened on the Tumen River and his brief arrest in China. If Mitch’s cameo is only when they sappily (I mean “happily”) re-enact the emotional reunion at Current’s studio (he wasn’t at the airport hangar) then we won’t get the truth about which side of the border Laura and Euna were actually captured on.
    I still want to hear Laura and Euna say on camera that more than one year later they still don’t know if they were lured into a trap by their ethnic Korean guide. Of course Adam and Mariana will likely be more interested in inquiring about the warmth of Bill Clinton’s hand rather than any heated questions about their initial intentions.

  7. Even if the women wish to focus on refugees, I expect Current TV producers would rather promote the journalist’ own experience because viewers will be more interested in the imprisonment and freedom of two young American women in a scary foreign land than an obscure human rights issue like North Korean refugees. The audience enjoys a story more when they can relate to the characters, and Americans have been conditioned to expect a happy ending.

  8. Complete rubbish! Current TV lied to us!
    This show only featured Laura Ling being interviewed by Mariana. Host Adam Yamaguchi said that Euna was not ready to speak on camera. During the half hour show there was only very brief mention of Mitch Koss and he was not interviewed at all.

    Compared to Larry King’s interview of the Ling sisters, which preceded this show, Current TV’s “Captive in North Korea” only succeeded in making us feel like prisoners of this stupid network.

    In the Larry King interview we learn that Current TV’s objective at the Tumen River border area was to give viewers a sense of the terrain. (Keep in mind that all of the North Korean defectors/refugees interviewed for this story were in Yanji) Laura said they wanted to film the icy river that serves as a thoroughfare for defectors to China.

    In my view it’s possible to film this area without leaving the safety of China’s shoreline. The Current TV crew had absolutely no business setting foot on the ice, but they followed the ethnic Korean guide when he motioned them to follow him across.

    Larry King asked about this guide: “Was he a con man?”
    Laura said “I don’t know; I don’t like to speculate.”

    Probably the most fascinating revelation came from Lisa Ling, who mentioned a secret mission proposed to her by some American paramilitary consultants representing former JSOC operatives (Joint Special Operations Command). For a fee, this JSOC team claimed they could “get eyes on my sister” using an underground network in North Korea. Lisa said she did not accept their offer and instead diligently pursued diplomatic channels.

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