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What Were Laura Ling and Euna Lee Reporting Before They Became the Story?

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August 12th, 2009

By Guest Blogger Tristin Aaron

One week ago today, journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling stepped back onto American soil after being detained in North Korea for over four months. Their safe return was covered widely in the American media, and rightfully so. Yet their reason for traveling to North Korea has been all but forgotten in the media reports on Lee and Ling.

Euna Lee and Laura Ling were reporting on the trafficking of women from North Korea into China. As Ji-Yeon Yuh notes in, “What Were Laura Ling and Euna Lee Looking For in North Korea?“:

Of North Korean women and girl refugees in China, an estimated 80 to 90 percent are victims of trafficking. This is likely the highest percentage of trafficking in a single population… Estimates of the number of North Korean refugees in China range from the Chinese government’s low of 10,000 to activist organizations’ high of 300,000—some 70 percent of them women, aid workers say.

Further, these victims of human trafficking are treated as criminals by North Korea, and as illegal immigrants in China. Writing for the Women’s Media Center, Ji-Yeon Yuh highlights a gap in the media’s coverage not only of the story Euna Lee and Laura Ling were reporting, but of coverage of North Korea in general:

The wider world takes little notice of these victims, with mainstream media closely focused on the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

For more on this story, read the full article from the Women’s Media Center.

Guest Blogger Tristin Aaron is the Media Director of the Women’s Media Center.

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