I can’t stop thinking about how insane it is that journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean labor camp for committing a still undefined crime. President Obama has promised to stop at nothing to get them released, but still—if I ever took my freedom for granted, I won’t anymore. What did these women do? Did they cross the Chinese border into North Korea illegally? Were they being used as bargaining chips in a U.N. debate? All we know is that they were chasing a human rights story for Current TV. Now the details of the story they were tracking are finally starting to emerge.
Ling and Lee were exploring the lives of the rapidly growing number of North Korean women who flee to China. While these women are treated as sub-humans in North Korea, constantly living with the threat of hunger, oppression, and violence, things are certainly not peachy for them in China, either. Most of these women are intercepted by traffickers and sold like animals to Chinese farmers to fulfill the role of wife, indentured laborer, and baby machine. Some women go through this degrading cycle three or four times before they become infertile. To make matters worse, they are not recognized as refugees or citizens by the Chinese government, so they have zero rights. Most shocking? Most of them find this to be a better way of life than in North Korea. If they should cause trouble or get caught they can expect a swift deportation back to North Korean and a labor camp sentence.
Let’s hope Ling and Lee are released soon and are able to tell us the full story. [MSNBC]