Those who pay attention to the Chinese calendar know that we are at the tail end (pun intended) of a Year of the Ox, which began January 26th, 2009 and ends February 14th, 2010. However, over the past few days, formerly imprisoned reporters Euna Lee and Laura Ling have been doing their best to embrace a new year of the X-O-X-O-X-O.
On Friday, January 22nd, it was confirmed that Laura has ended her five-year professional association with Current TV, citing as one of the reasons a desire to focus on starting a family. Meanwhile, a day later in Chicago, Euna told an audience at an @AACChicago event that the hardest thing about the specter of a North Korean labor camp was not knowing whether she would be able to survive the ordeal so as to eventually reunite with her husband Michael Saldate and daughter Hana. For both women, understandably, what counts most in the wake of escaping the clutches of Pyongyang (beyond perhaps good health) is the importance of loved ones.
Intriguingly, the man who was put in the hot seat by Laura and Euna‘s actions at the Chinese-North Korean border on the morning of March 17th, Barack Obama, was born in a previous Year of the Ox – 1961. This despite the fact that a description of traits shared by Ox Year people, offered up by the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, makes Obama sound more like the Dear Leader: angers easily, has a fierce temper, is extremely stubborn…
On the other hand, it seems perfectly fitting that Kim Jong-il was born during a Year of the Snake (1941), not to mention that the man beckoned to Pyongyang by said slitherer to rescue Ling and Lee, Bill Clinton, bears the mark of the Dog (1946). If this were North Korea, a state-mandated glorious retelling of the tanglings of the Ox, the mighty Serpent and the Dog would probably already be on the shelves.
But on this side of the Pacific, we can look forward instead to a pair of books by Lee and the Ling sisters that will celebrate the halo of the X-O-X-O-X-O.