North Korean Government Sentences Two Journalists to 12 years in Labor Camp

In Foreign Affairs, Injustice, media on June 8, 2009 by Editor Z

Current tv Journalists Euna Lee (left) and Laura Ling (right).

Last night it was announced that current TV journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling were sentenced to twelve years of “reform through labor”. The two journalists were captured for entering the country as they were on the Chinese-North Korean border.

This is one in a series acts by North Korea, (including ending the 1953 cease fire armistice still in affect that ended the Korean War)that have caused great alarm. many observers say that this increasing defiance that borders on political brinkmanship could be because North Korea’s Dictator Kim Jung Ill suffered a stroke less then a year ago and that in his frail state he is trying to reassure the military, the people he governs, and any potential rivals that his age and health have not softened him and made him (and thus in Kim’s world the nation of North Korea) more vulnerable. Still more reports claim he is attempting to strengthen North Korea’s stance to ensure that it remains tightly in the regime’s hand, so when Kim either retires or dies, rule can be passed to his youngest son. However, the U.S having no official diplomatic ties with North Korea, intelligence on the ground, and the garrison mindset of the Kim Jung Ill government towards the world and any outside messages that might trickle in, much of this seems to be here say and speculation.

Washington Post:

TOKYO, June 8 — A North Korean court sentenced two U.S. journalists to 12 years in a labor camp Monday, as the government of Kim Jong Il continued to ratchet up tension with the United States and its neighbors.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, television reporters detained in March along North Korea’s border with China, received harsher sentences than many outsiders had expected. But several experts in South Korea predicted that talks will begin soon to negotiate their release.

The U.S. government said it was “deeply concerned.”

The five-day trial of Ling and Lee was held in Pyongyang’s Central Court, the top court in North Korea. Outside observers were not allowed.

“The trial confirmed the grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing,” the official Korean Central News Agency said. It said the court sentenced “each of them to 12 years of reform through labor.”

The “grave crime,” however, was not explained. The reporters had earlier been accused of unspecified “hostile acts.” Legal analysts in South Korea said the North Korean court might have sentenced the women to the maximum of 10 years of hard labor for hostile acts and added on two years for illegal entry.

The detention and sentencing of the two journalists has coincided with — and become entangled in — a series of provocative acts by North Korea this spring that have angered its neighbors, its historical allies and much of the world.

The international community however is still calling for the release of the two journalists. There is talk that either former UN Ambassador and Democratic Presidential contender Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM)who has cut his teeth on assignments like this with the North Koreans, and or former Vice President and Current TV head Al Gore might travel to the totalitarian country to negotiate for the release of the two journalists. It will be interesting to see if China will fold or come to our side when it comes to this matter.

In other North Korea related news, President Obama is reported to be contemplating blocking shipments by the country of what are believed to be nuclear weapons material. Lets just make sure they actually have WMD this time before doing anything hasty.



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