One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home
On March 17, 2009, Laura Ling and her colleague Euna Lee were working on a documentary about North Korean defectors who were fleeing the desperate conditions in their homeland. While filming on the Chinese/North Korean border, they were chased down by North Korean soldiers who violently apprehended them. Laura and Euna were charged with trespassing and "hostile acts", and imprisoned by Kim Jong Il's notoriously secretive Communist state.
Kept totally apart, they endured months of interrogations and eventually a trial before North Korea's highest court. They were the first Americans ever to be sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in a prison camp in North Korea.
When news of the arrest reached Laura's sister, journalist Lisa Ling, she immediately began a campaign to get her sister released, one that led her from the State Department to the higher echelons of the media world and eventually to the White House.
Somewhere Inside reveals for the first time Laura's gripping account of what really happened on the river, her treatment at the hands of North Korean guards, and the deprivations and rounds of harrowing interrogations she endured.
Told in the sisters' alternating voices, Somewhere Inside is a timely, inspiring tale of survival set against the canvas of international politics that goes beyond the headlines to reveal the impact on lives engulfed by forces beyond their control. But it is also a window into the unique bond these two sisters have always shared, a bond that sustained them throughout the most horrifying ordeal of their lives.
©2010 Matt Ridley (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
I've been reading all sorts of books on North Korea lately, having lived in South Korea. After reading the excellent Nothing To Envy by Barbara Demick I downloaded this book. It was read by the author and I had seen the special TV show about Li posing as a doctor in order to get inside information on North Korea.
This book however, is devoid of any interesting facts. Ling is trying to get a taste of her sister's journalism skills and breaks the law by crossing the border illegally. She's caught and then treated fairly well. She whines about some important figure to get her free.
The whole story reads as one big whiny narrative. Luckily for Long, she has enough connections to get Bill Clinton to get her out. Had anyone else snuck into North Korea, no doubt the US government would leave them. Instead we read about a privileged woman doing something illegal and then getting treated very well for a North Korean prisoner.
In an attempt to get published, King then writes the narrative. It is generally devoid of any facts on North Korea. Also, since Ling was caught and brought to prison she doesnt have any inside stories of what North Korea looks like. She can only write about her cell room.
So what you end up with is a story about woman that complains about breaking the law, and seeing a prison room. There ewewas much better books about North Korea with actual facts, research, and inside information. As I mentioned before, Demick's Nothing to Envy, Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. A Kim Jong Il Production by Paul Fisher and Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea by Jang Jin Sung all offer better narratives from people who actually lived, suffered and escaped North Korea. In comparison, Ling breaks into North Korea, is caught, treated well, and gets privileged people to get her out. Skip this book!
Lisa and Laura recount their experience from both sides of Laura's capture and imprisonment by North Korea in a language that is easy to relate to. The look into the North Korean culture and mindset is accurate - and priceless. We see a part of North Korea that few ever have the opportunity to view through the people that Laura meets - her guards, the translator, etc. The political aspect of freeing a U.S. citizen from North Korea is fascinating, and not bogged down by too many details. I will be listening again!
Sticking to the subject of the plight of North Korean refugees rather than self promoting.
Stop talking about themselves!
This book should be titled " Somwhere inside the mind of two sisiters in love with themselves. "
I read nothing that is popular.
Lisa Ling's side of the story is more compelling than her her sister's story about being captive in North Korea.because it was more interesting what her family went through in the United States and the democratic process of trying to get the journalist back. You would think when Laura decided to write her experience of being prison in a communist country, she would had written more insight about her prisoner treatment from the North Koreans, but Laura give very little detail about her time.
It almost feels like that she is holding back from telling us the real story on what happened to her, in fear of retaliation, if she told the truth. Instead, she tell us about the negotiation for their freedom and who they wanted the White House to send to visit their country in trade for Laura and Euna Lee.
I have read Euna Lee's story, "The World is Bigger Now" and her perception of being in North Korea for almost 5 months, is more human than Laura's view because we get to know more about their captivity. The Ling's book is better written and much more detail on what went on behind the scene and the United States and our efforts to get our citizens back with their families.
Initially (even though you know the outcome), I couldn't listen for long periods (I found myself scared along with the characters. . .but as the book went along, I could not put it down. I loved the girl's reading and their fear, concern, and love resonated throughout the book. I great summer read!
I'm very glad I read this book. It's very well done and a real insight on North Korea. The two sisters voices are very similar. Listen carefully to know which one is speaking at times. Easier to tell after the abduction due to the subject matter. Very well written and informative. I'd recommend it to everyone. I wish our detained hikers in Iran had been as lucky as Laura and Euna.
I found this book dull and not very compelling. There are much better books out there about North Korea - "Nothing to Envy - Ordinary Lives in North Korea" for example. I thought there was too much name dropping from Lisa Ling and not much enlightening reflection from Laura Ling in this book. The way that Lisa Ling refers to her sister and Euna as "the girls" seems quite condescending and gets really old. They're not girls - they're professional women and Euna is a mother!
Also the audio version is read by Lisa and Laura and their voices sound quite similar so sometimes it's a bit hard to tell who is telling a particular story or anecdote.
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