Two U.S. journalists pardoned and freed by North Korea did cross illegally into that country, the sister of one of the women said.
“She did say that they touched North Korean territory very, very briefly,” Lisa Ling, sister of Laura Ling, told CNN on Thursday. “It was something that they were never planning to do originally,” Lisa Ling said. “I mean, I said this before, when they left U.S. soil, they never intended to cross into North Korea. She said it was maybe 30 seconds. And then, you know, everything just sort of got chaotic.” Ling said her sister intends soon to fully tell her tale. “Again, it’s a very powerful story,” Lisa Ling said. “And she does want to share it. But I just really want to let her do that.” Laura Ling and her colleague Euna Lee, both working for California-based Current TV, were arrested in March while reporting from the border between North Korea and China. They were sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor on charges of entering the country illegally to conduct a smear campaign. “We’ve talked very briefly about it, and she definitely wants to divulge exactly what happened, and I think she’s going to write an editorial very, very soon addressing it,” Lisa Ling said.
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The two journalists arrived home Wednesday after former President Bill Clinton journeyed to North Korea at the behest of the women’s families and former Vice President Al Gore, who co-founded Current TV. The reclusive communist nation pardoned the two women and released them to Clinton. Lisa Ling said her sister, exhausted from her ordeal, has been “incredibly emotional.” “She’s been in relative isolation for months and months and, you know, she doesn’t even like to be alone,” Lisa Ling said. “Yesterday she was so exhausted and she wanted to take a quick nap. She kept asking me: ‘Are you going to be here when I come back”
Lisa Ling said emotions have run high, too, in Lee’s home. “I hear from Euna’s husband, Michael, that Hana, their 4-year-old daughter, has not wanted her mother to leave her sight,” Lisa Ling said. “She just keeps following her around from room to room because she doesn’t want her mom to leave.”