The Dear Reader: DPRK Observations & Musings


The Celebrity Factor

So far, the biggest names to get behind the free-LingLee movement are @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) and @lisaling’s former @TheViewTV colleague @StarJonesEsq. The pair’s messages of outrage and heartfelt support have helped spread the word, and if North Korea was a country with actual Twitterers, might also have stoked local grassroots outrage.

Instead, Kutcher and Jones’ tweets, much like the family pleas, diplomatic entreaties and public vigils (the next ones are July 3rd in Denver and July 9th in Chicago-elsewhere), fell on deaf North Korean ears. Still, that doesn’t mean the tactic shouldn’t be tried with the larger country on the left.

Were China to urge its wonky neighbor to release a Chinese American (Ling) and Korean American (Lee) on purely humanitarian grounds, North Korea might pay a little more attention. Already, there is an Amnesty International letter template that people are using to urge China to do just that.

A collection of more famous Chinese Americans signing their names to a similar plea for Chinese help might not be the magic answer. But surely boldface such as Vera Wang, Jackie Chan, author Amy Tan, Yo-Yo Ma and Michelle Kwan couldn’t hurt.

Update07/02/09: There’s also the separate option of dispatching 2009 NBA Finals MVP Kobe Bryant to Beijing, per this @WSJ 6/30 article.

Update07/05/09: Per follower @leon_fan, Michelle Kwan will be in South Korea next month for a gala with Kim YuNa. She is a State Department PR envoy, so it would be nice to see her make a humanitarian plea for LingLee asap.


Filed under: Euna Lee, Laura Ling

11 Responses

  1. Pat says:

    Haing S Ngor is dead & has been so for awhile. So before calling someone out make sure they are alive. RIP Dr Ngor.

    • liberatelaura says:

      Thanks, that reference has been removed. This is a one-man, volunteer show, so sometimes stuff slips through the cracks.

      Another follower suggested that “big” Chinese/HK movie stars might have more leverage, but not sure since they’re not U.S. nationals how invested/willing to risk they would be.

      • Pat says:

        I understand. It’s a frustrating situation but I think having celebrity voices may get more media attention and you are on the right track. I wouldn’t limit it to to Chinese or Asian descent celebrities though. Why make it racial if Shaq or Johnny Depp or anyone will come out in full fledge support it would be an amazing coup for us.

        Plus the the Great leader’s son is supposedly very into basketball so sending an athlete as a good will ambassador may be more intriguing to him for the humanitarian cause.

        Anyways keep up the good work.

  2. StephersLA says:

    interesting…not sure that NK would bow to celebrity pleas, but maybe China would listen to economic power of hollywood?

  3. Spelunker says:

    For what it’s worth, actress Kelly Hu has a brief YouTube video plea filmed while doing a promo for a film called “Dim Sum Funeral” inside a Los Angeles Chinatown restaurant.

    • liberatelaura says:

      Do you think that if Ling-Lee-Koss had stopped filming when so ordered by NK guards, that they would not have been arrested? rh

  4. spelunker702 says:

    Of course it might depend on where Mitch Koss, who I assume was holding the video camera on the morning of March 17, was standing when told to stop filming. I think the North Korean’s order to “stop trespassing” may have preceded the command to “stop filming”. If Laura and Euna were already on North Koran territory then it makes no difference if Mitch was filming or not. Yet the post-trial report mentions a conficated video in which Current TV’s crew is narrating their own trespassing, so by the time “stop filming” was somehow conveyed (likely in Korean, which only Euna and the guide would understand) it was likely already too late anyway.

  5. spelunker702 says:

    Your mention of Kobe as a possible US envoy brings to mind the famous exploits of New Jersey entrepreneur Bobby Egan. He befriended North Korea’s UN representatives in New York and also was good friends with the New York Giants.

    In fact Bobby Egan actually used players from the 1994 New York Giants football team to try and get release of a US helicopter pilot (Bobby Hall) who was being held prisoner in Pyongyang. I found the link from the Vanity Fair article published a couple years ago:

    Perhaps it’s time for Giants quarterback Eli Manning to now help negotiate the release of Euna and Laura? Bobby Egan was profiled by the media again this week, with an article by the BBC published on July 2: “Spare Rib Diplomacy in Pyongyang”


  6. spelunker702 says:

    You’re not going to believe this, but I’m posting it here anyway:

    One of Michael Jackson’s last wishes was to free Laura Ling and Euna Lee because he thought Kim Jong-il might be a big Michael Jackson fan.

    Michael said he had seen some pictures on the internet of the Dear Leader. “You’know, he wears jackets like mine.”

    “Please,” Michael responded without hesitantly, “because maybe if he was a fan, I could help get those girls home.”

    Here’s the link:

    • liberatelaura says:

      The idea of Michael Jackson interceding on behalf of Ling, Lee is in some ways more outlandish than any of the possible saviors that have been suggested in various blog postings here.

      Over his lifetime, MJ visited South Korea four times and expressed at one point a desire to travel to North Korea. Too bad Gotham Chopra was unable to find a way of conveying MJ’s wishes to NK/Kim Jong-il.

  7. Dream says:

    Chopra is such a fame whore that I can’t take anything he says seriously.

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