In an interview given to @Reuters by Robert Park shortly before he wandered across the North Korean border on Christmas Day (video of interview here), the Tucson, AZ Christian activist – who had previously been ministering to Hermit Kingdom refugees along the Chinese border – had harsh words for Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
“As a result of what happened to the journalists, a refugee friend of mine said it was one of the best things that happened for North Korea‘s liberation. This was shortly after it happened and they were freed [August 4th]. But now it has become worse because the journalists have not spoken out about the human rights crisis. They were ransomed for a lot of money and they went home and wrote a book.”
Though Bill Clinton was shown arriving in Pyongyang with a suitcase, and our friend Spelunker speculated it could be full of money, that notion has never been corroborated. Similarly, no book about the Ling–Lee ordeal has yet been written; towards the end of the year, Euna signed a deal with Random House‘s Broadway Books and is currently working on her tome. Finally, albeit quietly, Ling and Lee have both been urging people to support the New York-based refugee charity LiNK (Liberty in North Korea).
Park would have been better served to embrace the actions of the @Current duo. Like the 28-year-old Park, the then 32-year-old Ling and 36-year-old Lee were trying to shine a light on the same general story that isn’t being told. And, if you believe the account publicized just before Park‘s crossing by the two border guards who apprehended the American reporters, the guide who shepherded Ling, Lee and Mitchell Koss across the frozen Tumen River on March 17th did not set them up.
In other words, if true, it means Ling, Lee and Park all voluntarily stepped into the glare of one of today’s most dangerous humanitarian heartbeats.
Though speculation about Park‘s fate is all over the map, the consensus guess is that he will be deported from North Korea after a relatively brief detainment. If and when that occurs, Park should make a beeline for Ling and allow her to be the first person to interview him about his upside-down ordeal.