Sunday, April 05, 2009

Back to the North Korean refugee issue

With the G20 no longer center stage in world news, and a news vacuum available, Kim Jong-il and cronies apparently felt it was time to launch.

Now with the satellite come and gone, perhaps the focus will again return to the two imprisoned American reporters who were scouting out a story on North Korean refugees, and indeed to the North Korean refugee problem itself?

Korean-American Euna Lee and Chinese-American Laura Ling reporters for former Vice President Al Gore's San Francisco-based online media outlet Current TV were taken into custody early on St. Patrick’s Day morning in the Chinese-North Korean border area.

Chun Ki-won of the Seoul-based Durihana Mission, that helps North Korean refugees seek asylum, had met the two women in Seoul who hoped to report on North Korean refugee situation. The women later communicated to him they were in the Chinese border city of Yanji and were heading toward the Yalu River near the Chinese border city of Dandong. The Tumen and Yalu rivers are frequent crossing points for both trade and the growing number of North Koreans seeking to flee their country.

The two women could be facing charges for espionage, a felony that could result in a minimum of 20 years imprisonment in North Korea, but hopes are that they will be released as a goodwill gesture on the part of North Korea. In the meantime, they are getting a personal taste of the conditions they set out to cover.

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