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.
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