"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring her Home by Laura Ling and Lisa Ling

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Summary: Lisa Ling recounts her struggle to bring home her sister Laura Ling from North Korea while Laura narrates her time under North Korean jailers.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher. 

North Koreans guards dragged these two injured frightened women back across a frozen river onto North Korean soil. Laura and Euna tried to grab bushes, rocks, ice anything to keep them on Chinese soil. Finally, all they could hold onto was each other, but they were soon forced apart.

I called my sister tonight just to confirm that she would do everything she could to bring me home if I'm ever in a North Korean jail.

The love between these two sisters is amazing. Lisa Ling's powerful love for her sister is expressed through everything Lisa did to bring her sister Laura home, navigating the tricky world of American politics as well. When a homeless man calls out to Lisa, "I'm praying for your sister!" I teared up.

I avidly followed the story of two journalists -Laura Ling and Euna Lee- working for Al Gore's network Current and cried when they made it home safe and alive. I'm always a little suspicious when Americans are captured on foreign soil and then claim they didn't know the boundaries. (The hikers currently imprisoned in Iran are from Minnesota). But that's more because I'm a conspiracy theorist and believe that the CIA and NSA are smart and tricky. Plus journalists tend to have free access and are nosier, so who better to be a spy than a journalist? It sickens me a little to think that I have the same train of thought as a North Korean interrogator.

Laura will narrate her version of one event and then Lisa will narrate the same event from her perspective. In addition to have each sister's voice be a different font, this style lets them tell a complicated story with ease. It didn't annoy me the way it did others; it helped me.

Carefully spoken messages and scanned letters simply don't tell Laura's friends and family what is happening. Laura's health issues prevent her from being sent to the hard labor camps, but she's suffering from such ill health, they can't send her. Laura's retelling of her un-anesthetized endoscopy made me wince. Plus Laura has to try to give the North Koreans a public apology by some established American and make that American publicly apologize. Meanwhile Lisa is juggling the offices of John Kerry, Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton (who made the first public apology and then was mocked and insulted by the North Korean government), Al Gore, Bill Clinton and the White House.

I'm so grateful that we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. I also plan to read The World Is Bigger Now: An American Journalist's Release from Captivity in North Korea by Euna Lee and Lisa Dickey. Euna was separated from her husband and young daughter and kept in a separate area from Laura Ling.

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