Current TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee write, for the first time, about their reporting, capture, and detention in North Korea:

We tried with all our might to cling to bushes, ground, anything that would keep us on Chinese soil, but we were no match for the determined [North Korean] soldiers. They violently dragged us back across the ice to North Korea and marched us to a nearby army base, where we were detained. Over the next 140 days, we were moved to Pyongyang, isolated from one another, repeatedly interrogated and eventually put on trial and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor…


We didn’t spend more than a minute on North Korean soil before turning back, but it is a minute we deeply regret. To this day, we still don’t know if we were lured into a trap.

After being detained, write Lee and Ling:

[W]e furtively destroyed evidence in our possession by swallowing notes and damaging videotapes. During rigorous, daily interrogation sessions, we took care to protect our sources and interview subjects.

And, while they realize “people would like to hear more about our experience in captivity,” they hope to “redirect this interest to the story we went to report on, a story about despairing North Korean defectors who flee to China only to find themselves living a different kind of horror.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.