June 2nd, 2009
06:47 PM ET

Q & A with Lisa Ling

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/06/02/north.korea.detained.journalists/art.lee.afp.gi.jpg caption="Euna Lee has been in North Korean custody since March, when she and another reporter were detained. "]


Editor's Note: The families of two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea made public pleas for their release as their trial and the threat of years in labor camps loom. The women, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, are to go on trial Thursday on spying charges. The family members of Ling and Lee sat down with Larry King on Monday night. Tune in tonight for Anderson's interview with Laura Ling's sister, Lisa on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Larry King: How well do you know Euna?
Lisa Ling: Not at all. Her husband.
Larry: He’s here.
Ling: and their four year old daughter are parts of the family. It’s been difficult for all of us.
Larry: what were they doing there?
Ling: They were on the border working on a story about trafficked women along the border and…
Larry: Women from where to where?
Ling: From both sides, really. And the details of what happened the day they were arrested are unknown. I mean, the only people who really know what happened were Laura and Euna but what can say for certain, you can ask any member of our family, when they left the United States, there was never an intention to cross the border into North Korea. We expected that they would be back in a couple of days and so that’s what we can say with certainty and if for some reason they did cross over, then we apologize profusely on their behalf.
Larry: Do you think they could have accidentally crossed over?
Ling: We don’t know. There is a possibility that they could have crossed over but if they did, I don’t believe they did it for long. Maybe a couple of minutes but I can’t say.
Larry: You know they had no intention. We are looking at a map of the area.

Ling: Absolutely. We are told that at this time, you know, it’s a very vague border. The river, the Tumen River is frozen. But again, we don’t know the specifics.

Larry: Mary, we understand you got a letter from your daughter.
Mary: Yes
Larry: Would you share part of it?
Mary: Okay. I hope I won’t break down.
Larry: this is not easy.
Mary: Yes. I just want to read the last paragraph that she wrote. She’s a very caring, selfless girl. She wrote, I am thinking about you all constantly and how fortunate I am to have such an amazing, loving family. Stay strong. And please take care of yourself. That is my biggest request. Know that I am doing okay. And dreaming about being reunited with you all again.


Larry: Now your sister called you last Tuesday, right?
Ling: So last Tuesday
Larry: How did that happen?
Ling: It was so unexpected. My husband and I were sitting at home and at 11:00 at night, I got a call. And I picked up the phone and I heard this little voice say, Li, It’s me. I need your help. And the call lasted about four minutes and it was extremely emotional. I’m surprised we got the words out but in the course of the four-minute conversation, she said that the only way she may be able to get released is if our two countries communicate and why we wanted to go public, to encourage the government to do so.
Larry: How did she sound?
Ling: She sounds scary, Larry. I mean, she sounds absolutely terrified. You know, it’s been almost three months and communication with her has been so limited, we got that one phone call that was the first time I’d heard her voice in two and a half months and gotten one letter and her husband got one letter and then that’s it. The only people who have seen them outside of the North Koreans and Swedish delegation.
Larry: Do you have faith this country is doing all that it can?
Ling: I know that our state department is working hard on the issue. We communicate with them every single day. But because our two countries don’t have a diplomatic relationship, communication has been so limited so we hope that they can start talking about this issue on humanitarian grounds. I mean, the other issue is a far larger issue that we can have input on nut on this humanitarian issue we beg both countries to talk.

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Lisa

    This is such a horrible story. I know President Obama wil make every effort to get these women home, he's a wonderful leader. BUT at some point we Americans need to stop putting ourselves in these situations. Go nowhere near ANY border where the neighboring country is so hostile. Al Gore, this was your baby- you need to get going and do what you can do.

    June 8, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  2. rick cotter

    Mary, I am praying everyday for the safety and well being of Laura. I am glad Lisa,ian and you are speaking out and making this high profile as possible
    WE think of you daily.

    June 5, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  3. Donna

    This is exactly what North Korea wanted, , they have been begging to be in the spot light, for some time now. Maybe people need to, and I mean Journalists too , need to stay "completely" away from their territory. North Korea is not to be played around with, they are a very dangerous Nation whom believe in treating people Cruel, to say the least.
    I'm sure by having 2 American's as their prisoners, they feel quite powerful, and are gloteing over their recogition, whether it be negative or not, they enjoy having Complete Control.
    Why is the U.S.A not doing more to free these women?

    June 4, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  4. Pilar Carreon

    I offered mass and prayers for their safe return.

    June 4, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  5. koreanbeacon.com

    The North Koreans are using these ladies as leverage in their nuclear standoff with the world. The world needs to come together and communicate with North Korea. There has to be a peaceful way out of this confrontation.

    June 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  6. Darin


    June 3, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  7. Josh A.

    I wouldn't be surprise if the North crossed over to get them.

    I pray for their quick release. Hopefully we will put enough high-level pressure on them (like Saberi's recent release from Iran) to get these ridiculous charges dropped and see their safe return.

    We cannot just let the North Koreans do whatever they please. Look how long they held those poor Japanese abductees. By the time they came back the whole world they knew had completely changed.

    Apply pressure!

    June 3, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  8. ronvan

    Also hope this turns out well. However, it continually amazes me that people can put themselves into bad situations. We have heard about N. Korea & how they act for quite some time now. So my question again, is why put yourselves in a bad situation? How do you cross the border my mistake? As a ret. Army Vet I served a tour in S. Korea. I cannot state that I saw a distinctive "border" throughout the entire country, but, in the area I was in you could have been blind & could not have crossed into N. Korea!

    June 3, 2009 at 9:57 am |
  9. Lori

    My Thoughts and Prayers go out to the families, and for North Korea to let Euna and Laura come home

    June 3, 2009 at 1:29 am |
  10. lauren s

    i thought this was going to be a channel 1 reunion =) you are both (3 including mr king) amazing reporters! thank you for keeping the integrity in journalism

    June 3, 2009 at 1:17 am |
  11. Joyce Gray

    I wonder what N. Korea's real intent is. What are they really wanting.I pray for the girls saftey

    June 3, 2009 at 12:02 am |
  12. Oh My

    Thats terrible and how scary!!!

    June 2, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  13. lisa

    what these two family are going through is very heart breaking an sad I've watched lisa an all her documentaries an those of her sisters an I doubt that she would have put her self an Euna in harms way I pray for their safe return an every one write,email,call up your representative an let them know this is unjust an negotiate some way to bring these young ladies home to be with there family

    June 2, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  14. Janet

    My prayers go to both families. This is so sad. I pray the U.S. can work this out and bring them both home asap.

    June 2, 2009 at 10:01 pm |
  15. Sherry Collins

    I pray for them and their families.

    June 2, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  16. Carla

    Situation sad..think POTUS should made trip for peace talks and release of both women.
    There doesn't seem to be much communication that our citizens ae aware of. NKorea should be considered an upcoming problem to all nation,armed a d dangerous!
    Bless the famlies and women for strength fir a speedy release.

    June 2, 2009 at 8:35 pm |
  17. Becky Bradley

    Great interview with Larry. God bless all of their families. Waiting for news must be tiresome but at least there has been contact and as Al Gore and Bill Richardson mentioned there is positive hope. Our thoughts and prayers go out to these 2 young brave women and their families wishing a safe return back to the United States.

    June 2, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  18. Isabel, Brazil

    Analysts say the North Korean regime sees journalists as part of the bargain to boot concessions of the US

    June 2, 2009 at 7:50 pm |
  19. Anthonia

    This sad news I hope her sister comes back safetly

    June 2, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  20. Annie Kate

    I hope the government can get these two women out of North Korea. If the border where they were is as uncertain as Lisa says then if they crossed over it could have been an innocent mistake. I can't imagine what they are going through but I'm sure they feel very lonely and frightened and would give anything to be able to go home. I hope for the best for them and hopefully CNN will get to report on their homecoming very soon.

    June 2, 2009 at 7:10 pm |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.