Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Not exactly the lifestyle of a North Korean refugee

With Laura Ling and Euna Lee now back home readjusting to California life, the bidding war for the first interview with the two heroines has reportedly reached ‘the mid six figures’. Book publisher HarperCollins is said to have offered a cool $1million for a ‘warts and all’ account of their life during 140 days ‘behind enemy lines’. A movie deal will surely follow.

Afterall, with all the press focusing on two California girls, the story has all the ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster. Two girls in peril, an evil North Korean dictator holding them captive and, riding to the rescue former President Bill Clinton.

The Daily Mail inserts a touch of humor, quoting a Democratic Party insider that “the joke in the White House was that the girls were safer in North Korea than on the plane going home with Bill”.

The paper suggests that the women's ‘ordeal’ appears to have been far from tough. According to Professor Han Park, an American academic who was visiting North Korea at the time, they were housed in a guest villa designed for foreign visitors outside the capital of Pyongyang. Professor Park said that Korean officials laughed at any suggestion that the women were receiving harsh treatment. ‘We are not Guantanamo,’ he was told.

The women were allowed to receive daily letters from their husbands and parcels from home. Laura’s husband, Iain, said he sent her “things she loved, like dried squid and beef jerky”. And they were able make international phone calls while living in their guest house.

The Clinton confidant said: “Most people in North Korea would be lucky to be treated the way those girls were.”

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