A MinD in MoTown

12 Years…
June 8, 2009, 12:52 pm
Filed under: News Girl, Poli...what?

That was the sentence handed down to two U.S. journalists from a high court in North Korea. Twelve years of hard labor for supposedly illegally trespassing into the country and acting with “hostility toward the Korean people.”

For more information on this, check out my blog post from last week, “Waiting for a verdict.” Also, via Yahoo! News, you can read “N. Korea sentences US reporters to 12 years labor” by the Associated Press.

Previous news reports stated that Euna Lee and Lisa Ling – who were in China, near the North Korea border, filming a report for California’s Current TV about the trafficking of women – faced up to 10 years for their “crimes,” although it’s quite unclear whether or not these two women actually crossed the country’s border. Clearly those in North Korea claim that they did. However, I’ve repeatedly read that it’s possible the reporters never stepped foot into that country, yet were arrested for doing so regardless.

And now, with 12 years each to serve, the women are expected to become political bargaining tools as North Korea faces repercussions for its recent nuclear testing.

Nobody seems surprised by the sentencing, myself included. And unfortunately, despite a strong lack of diplomacy between the United States and North Korea, our country will likely give this communist state exactly what it wants – leniency – in return for the freedom of these two women.

Although I love journalism and stand by the fact that these women should not been found guilty for their actions – or the lack thereof, naturally – I’m not entirely sure how I feel about securing their freedom by merely slapping North Korea on the wrist for launching dangerous missiles against sanctions forbidding their usage. We are, in essence, providing communists with the power to do whatever they choose if it means a safe return to the states of our citizens. I realize the importance of this, yet nothing whatsoever feels good about seemingly negotiating with terrorists. After all, isn’t that exactly what they are in this scenario?

I’m seriously on the fence here, completely indecisive about my opinions on this matter. Clearly I want Lee and Ling to avoid 12 years of labor in North Korea. But what are we, as a country, sacrificing as a result? Are we putting ourselves at risk? Are we allowing the testing of nuclear weapons that could potentially be used against us? Are we opening up a can of worms that may lead us straight into nuclear warfare? What kind of jeopardy does the state of Alaska – within range of North Korea’s missiles – face in the future if we continue to let them test their devices?

…As horrible as this is to say or even consider, at what point does this become a question of the importance two lives possess versus providing increased nuclear freedoms to a communist state?

All of this remains far too serious to think about on a Monday and reminds me why I avoid politics altogether.


9 Comments so far
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It’s definitely a delicate balance, and I’m so glad that it is not my decision to make.

Agreed. I’d be stuck somewhere in between helping these women escape 12 years of hard labor and wanting to protect the country from war by imposing harsher sanctions on North Korea. Such a tough decision. But from what I’ve read, United States officials are ready to do whatever necessary to guarantee their freedom.

Comment by Ronnica

i really hate how they’re basically being used as pawns.. 😦

Isn’t it ridiculous? And so very sad…

Comment by floreta

Isn’t this whole thing so sad and frustrating all at once?!?! I just want to punch something.

Ditto. CNN was on while I was at the gym last night, and I think it was making me work harder – filled with frustration and anger – as I watched them discuss this story.

Comment by Kimwithak

My heart breaks (into a kabillion pieces) for their families. Euna Lee has a four-year-old daughter and I can’t even imagine the toll of all of this is taking on everyone.

I know. That poor little girl, living without her mother for 12 years! And to make matters worse, so many sources say they might not have even crossed into North Korea. Being wrongfully punished for this crime is so sickening.

Comment by thatShortChick

Times like this I’m reminded why I never ever wanted to be a politician. I’m just happy our government is willing to negotiate for their safe return.

I want these women back just as much as anyone – who isn’t their family, of course – but I’m scared of what these negotiations may mean. It’s great that our country wants to make that effort to obtain their freedom. That speaks volumes for what Americans mean to this land. But this nuclear missile testing at the same time? For some reason, that gives me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach for what negotiating could cost us.

Comment by Kendall

Things like this hurt my head… and my heart.

Don’t they? I have to write about something light and fluffy soon. I’ve been too serious, making everyone sad…

Comment by LiLu

I agree with you but I’m just putting myself in their shoes…no one wants 12 years hard labor in North freaking Korea.


So very true, which is why I was struggling with how I felt. On one hand, it’s immense compassion yet anguish that they’re stuck there with hard labor as their future. On the other, it’s uneasy to consider what danger may arise from lessening North Korea’s punishment for violating the United Nations sanctions. ::Shrugs:: is right.

Comment by nina

This whole thing just completely wrenches me. I can’t help but feel devastated for them and their families, but you’re right. If N. Korea is willing to use them as pawns now, what’s to stop any future atrocities? Who is going to be the next pawn?

Excellent question. Where does it stop if we give it to North Korea now? What will they want tomorrow, or the next day, or the one after that? At some point – hm, maybe when they start testing nuclear missiles…wait, they already did that – shouldn’t we draw the line?

Comment by Elizabeth

Totally agreed. It’s a very scary situation.

I really hate that N. Korea will probably use them as bargaining tools for their wrong actions…

Worse yet, they are likely punishing these girls for something they didn’t actually do. Such a crappy situation all around.

Comment by Cee

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