US Journalists sentenced to 12 years hard-labour in North Korea 11Jun09

In case you haven’t heard about this, two American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were recently sentenced to 12 years in ‘hard-labour prisons’ in North Korea for “the grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing.” (According to North Korean State Media). Please take a few moments and sign the petition for their release….

They were working for Al Gore’s current TV making a film about the plight of the North Korean people as they flee into China – a subject which I investigated recently for the Channel 4 film The Great Escape (full details) – click through if you’d like to find out further information about the issues and the subject. I was reporting in the same area as Laura and Euna and it’s an incredibly difficult and dangerous place to try and investigate what is really going on. Who knows what really happened on the day they were arrested by North Koreans – but the results are now clear – there are not words that can publically published to tell you what I think of the North Korean regime, what they continue to do their people and how they try to elevate their position on the world stage. Please take a moment and sign the petition:

Join the Petition:

Further Information at the Facebook Group: “Detained In North Korea : Journalist Laura Ling and Euna Lee, please help”

Further information of their sentence: on CNN

21 Responses to “US Journalists sentenced to 12 years hard-labour in North Korea”

  1. Carmen Says:

    When I heard a few days ago that they had been sentenced to 12 years in hard labor prisons, my heart sank so low I felt sick to my stomach. It literally to my breath away. I think I was a little shocked, although I guess I shouldn’t have been. I just pray that now that the song and dance of the trial is over that Richardson, Gore, ANYONE!!! can get in there to work (plead, beg, bargain) on their behalf. My heart just goes out to these two women and their families. I cannot even begin to imagine how terrified they must all be and the shock that they must all be going through.

    The situation in North Korea seems to be getting scarier and escalating on a weekly basis. It seems to be something new every few days or weeks. Do you think this is all grand standing because of the fact that they have now announced Kim Jong Il’s son as his successor? It’s almost as if they want to stir things up and cause a little “excitement” to rile people up for the transition of power to Kim Jong Un…. I could think of better ways.

    Thanks for reporting on this, Olly.


  2. lissa Says:

    Hi Olly,
    I was stunned when I learned of the Ling-Lee sentencing early this week! As you mentioned, no one really knows what happened when they were arrested, but no matter which angle one looks at it, 12 years in hard-labor prison doesn’t justify the crime. Having watched your “The Great Escape” report makes me fearful for them both.
    I’ve been following their story closely especially when their families started speaking up. It was gut-wrenching to see their love ones on television pleading for their release. Euna has a 4-year old girl, – I thought of what would become of her – if her mom would serve her sentence? They won’t see each other till she’s 16. The women’s husbands – what would become of them? 12 years of being apart is unbearable, but I truly wish that their marriages would stand the test of time. Lisa Ling and her parents – just thinking about what they are going through really makes me teary-eyed.
    Laura and Euna are now political pawns. I wish them strength and courage and to never ever give up! I wish for their families not to lose hope. And for all of us who are watching their story unfold, I suggest to include them in our thoughts & prayers and ask for their immediate release, and sign the petition if you haven’t done so yet! Really how thoughtful of you, Olly, to put a link on your website. The last time I checked only less than 2,500 signatures are needed for “The Push for 50,000 Signatures” to help free Laura and Euna. Common fellow bloggers sign up and recruit people you know to do the same! The least we could do.

  3. Martin Says:

    I cant imagine what is going through their worried minds right now, my prayers go out to them and their families and I pray they will make it through this difficult time and be given their freedom. I have followed Lisa Ling for years now ever since she was a reporter for Channel One News in my middleschool to her seat on the View.

  4. Reena Says:

    Hi Olly,

    The only thing I want to say is please keep yourself safe.
    We are greatful for everthing you do but keeping yourself safe is more important.
    You were at the same place as those two journalists and I am praying for them.

    Wishing you health, happines, love and wealth.

  5. julie Says:

    Hi Olly,

    Is the reason “journalists” get themselves into dangerous situations because of the story or is it more the desire to help those in need?
    I understand that there is risk in alot of occupations, I suppose this isn’t any different.
    Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, these poor ladies, my heart goes out to them. They are definitly are being used as an example for the rest of the world, sounds like a typical bully, picking on a weaker victim to prove to everyone how completly “tough” they are. So sad.

    Keep safe Olly, and SAFE travels,


  6. Tan Says:

    Thank you, Olly, for put the petition up on the web. I do not know what else to say about the North Korea. Sometimes thing just does not work out the way we all hope for but I do still hope that something good would come out from it. I am praying for Laura, Euna, and their family to have hope and faith. Olly, take care of yourself and stay safe. Tan

  7. Tolani Lawrence-Lightfoot Says:

    If the tragedy at Tiananmen Square and the recent incarnation of Laura Ling and Euna Lee can teach us anything it is that we as citizens must stand up for what we believe to be the rightful knowledge of all. In pursuing this we artists and intellectuals must have eachother’s backs. We are the storytellers. We are not alone. The students at Tiananmen will not rest in vain or alone and The 12 years hard labor to be served by our Laura Ling and Euna Lee will not be served alone as we are with them. But suffering without them as a journalist silenced is a story frozen in time Musicians, writers both journalistic and other and visual artists are so very responsible for the upholding of truth and values in almost every culture. As well they are responsible for the telling of stories. Our stories and our truths!.How else will those after us know what shapes them and the path they stand on in the present.These are people who gave and are giving their lives and reputations for the sake of both physical and intellectual freedom. Although a bit late to the conversation,I will never forget 1989! and will do all I can to insure a safe return of our missing journalists. The punishment does not fit the crime and my head cannot wrap itself around all the sacrifice that goes into being one whom travels and makes a daily sacrifice of their own time and safety to report the sometimes very dangerous truths that are all to prevalent in our world. Truths that have harsh consequences for being brought out into the light Why are these truths so dangerous? I am a visual artist and have many stories to tell myself. Some may offend some may not. Would I put my freedom at risk to protect my right to tell them?You betcha! but it still scares me. This recent “unlawful” imprisonment is heart wrenching and horrifying. Let us all gather together in creative protest so that the world can see we are not afraid of their fictitious and intellectually faulty borders. Perhaps there will be a day when we as intellectuals and artists can be free to hold up the mirror in the face of whatever society we hail from and not be fearful that should the mirror reflect an unsavory image we will be fatally flogged or forgotten.

  8. Tan Says:

    Hello, Olly
    Hope you are doing find and keep yourself safe where ever you are right now. It has been a whole month since you last wrote anything. Start to get worry, please let us know that you are alright, just a line or two. Hope you doing ok. Tan.

  9. Jennifer Couvillon Says:

    Great news to hear that they were released! Guess a little diplomacy goes a long way.

  10. Tan Says:

    Hi, Olly
    I’m glad that your web-site is back on, it was out of service for a while. Anyway, I guess you heard the good new about Laura and Euna are back home safe with their family. Thank God they both safe, look a bit thin but safe. I guess a lot of people are praying for them and did not lost hope. I hope you doing ok. and safe wherever you are. Just want to share the good new. Best wish and stay safe, Tan

  11. Renata Says:

    Oi Olly,
    After a couple of months I couldn’t resist I had to check back on your web site. I was very happy to hear the return of the journalists to the US. Like you pointed out there are no words that you publish to express the felling we have for that kind of regime. It’s also important not to forget the population of that country that are not as lucky as the US journalists they don’t work for the former vice president of the United States, and can’t arrange a visit from the former president. They don’t voice or a say about their life’s. I do have a question. What do you think is the golden chip that they are after? I understand that the Kim Jong-il is by definition insane and he wants to be recognized in the international scene as a big player, but what status is he looking for? He is crazy but he knows he can’t start a war, or would be suicide right? Does he want to play the blackmail game as long as he can or he has real goals he would like to reach?
    On a side note… Do you twitter? You would be someone I would love to follow.

  12. julie Says:

    where is Olly??????

  13. Tina Says:

    Probably working. They usually film from July through October.

  14. Carmen Says:

    Just thought I’d drop a line and say “hi”. It’s been a long time and summer’s winding down here, feels like fall at the moment actually. Not sure when you’ll be back from your latest adventures, but I cannot wait to see what you’ve got up your sleeve this time. I hope you had an exciting, interesting and rewarding experience.

    Take care, Olly, and please give us all an update when you are able. Thanks!

    Carmen :o}

  15. Lissa Says:

    For anyone who hasn’t heard, Laura Ling and Euna Lee recently made their first statement on Current TV’s website, “Hostages in the Hermit Kingdom”. In it they revealed the events that led to their capture in North Korea and shared why they went in the first place. If interested, please click on either of the links below. The first one includes a link for Laura and Euna’s Thank You video.


  16. Martin Says:

    I sure hope Olly surfaces soon, I will be so thrilled if he is shooting another “Living with the…..” for the Travel Channel. WE MISS YOU OLLY!!

  17. Tan Says:

    Ok. it October now and fall break just started, hope Olly coming back soon with a new adventure to share. Hope you doing ok Olly, we miss you!

  18. Martin Says:

    Olly would do great with some Asian tribes that would be an awesome show, or travel to Africa somehwere. I have my fingers crossed that he is going to come on here any day now and make the announcement!!

  19. Lolita Says:

    Dear Mr. Steeds,
    Where the hell are you? Many of your loyal fans are looking for updates on your lasted adventure. Is there no WIFI where you are?
    We all hope you and those with you are well.


  20. Jason Says:

    Hi Olly, I just wanted to thank you for going through such hardships ,just so we can see how other trbes live.
    I really miss the show and I can’t wait to see what comes next!
    Thank you for bring a little bit of culture to TV!

  21. Fernando Says:

    Let the girls go they were just working on a film. Obama
    help them out please!

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