The Dear Reader: DPRK Observations & Musings


Mapai Marks the Spot

Some of the more salient details about the Laura LingEuna Lee saga have been reported, logically, by foreign-language outlets only. Such is the case with regards to the exact spot where the two @Current journalists, in the company of producer-cameraman Mitchell Koss and a Chinese-Korean guide, crossed the border on March 17th.

According to four separate Chinese sources and Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV network, the quartet ventured into North Korean territory via the village of Mapai in the town of Yueqing. It’s an area 10.5 kilometers south of the larger city of Tumen, where more than half the population is Korean and a large detention center houses refugees set to be deported back to North Korea.

If you pull up this satellite map of Mapai, zoom in a few clicks and pan to the right, you will get a chilling look at the spot where it all began. Notice the two large sand embankments at this juncture of the Tumen River; one of those is almost certainly where the quartet was intercepted. (And if the group ventured to the island sandbank surrounded on all sides by a bifurcated Tumen River, perhaps they thought somehow that they were still in Chinese territory.)

Although a refugee and labor camp survivor recently told @latimes that the frequency of North Korean border guards has been increased in some spots from every-100-yards to every-10-yards, this was likely not the case with the Mapai village stretch as it would have led Ling and Lee to not even consider the excursion. The aforementioned Phoenix TV network sent a crew to Mapai last month to interview some of the locals familiar with the LingLee incident.

Chances are that in the near future, travelers who visit Tumen’s riverfront restaurant area to gaze across at North Korea will make the extra pilgrimage to this soon-to-be infamous spot.

P.S. Extra thanks to follower Spelunker for pointing out the info referenced in this blog item. As always, his insights and guidance are much appreciated


Filed under: Euna Lee, Laura Ling

3 Responses

  1. spelunker702 says:

    Nice work, my friend! Thank you for adding the satellite map of Ma Pai village as well.

    I sincerely hope Yueqing and Ma Pai are not included in the next edition of Lonely Planet’s China guidebook.


    • liberatelaura says:

      Every reference to Mapai I Googled spelled it as one word. Is that wrong, or is Ma Pai the Chinese (slightly different) spelling?

  2. spelunker702 says:

    Yes, in English it would be Mapai. I separated the Ma and Pai for the sake of pronunciation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Twitter Feed

%d bloggers like this: