"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said charges against two American journalists detained in North Korea for illegally entering the country are baseless and they should be allowed to return home...." (Bloomberg)
Sounds reasonable, too: from my perspective.
Another article, written an hour or so later, starts with another fairly simple statement:
"North Korea's state news agency says the country's top court has convicted two U.S. journalists and sentenced them to 12 years in labor prison...." (FOXNews)
Well, at least North Korea settled on a charge that they'd use. No sense leaving a blank spot on the paperwork, I suppose.
Yet another article gives a hint, I think, of the real reason the journalists were tried and sentenced. Sentenced, anyway:
"Two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea while covering the plight of defectors living along the China-North Korea border have been sentenced to 12 years in labor camps, the country's state-run media said Monday...." (CNN)
It's bad news for Laura Ling and Euna Lee, of course. If North Korea's government is serious about this, odds are that the two young women will die well before the dozen years are up.
I rather hope that what North Korea has in mind is using them as bargaining chips, and has just upped the ante. It may work, too.
It will be interesting, over the next week, to see how this plays in America and other countries. I've gotten the impression that North Korea may be losing what respect and stature it had, with this latest round of missile tests, nuclear test, and a "communications satellite" launch.
As for 'what should be done:' It's tempting to start a jingoistic rant about nuking North Korea. Never mind that the people we're concerned about would be killed, along with 'all those foreigners.' At this point, military action of any sort probably isn't the best course of action.
In the short term, I think that diplomacy - and a whacking great bribe - may free the journalists.
In the long term, Dear Leader is mortal, and will eventually die. When that happens, in principle, his son would assume Kim Jong Il's place as the third of that dynasty.
Or, North Korea's government may tear itself apart in a flurry of assassinations.
And, I'm sure there are a number of other possible scenarios.
Eventually, though, if North Korea does not change its habit of threatening its neighbors, I think that the country will be attacked. Whether American forces are involved, or whether another country gets fed up first, is something I don't know enough to speculate about.
- "North Korea Holds American Journalists: Let's Not Forget"
(June 5, 2009)
- "Reporters get 12-year terms in N. Korea"
CNN (June 8, 2009)
- "N. Korea Sentences 2 U.S. Reporters to 12 Years Labor Prison"
FOXNews (June 8, 2009)
- "Clinton Says North Korea Charges Against Journalists Unfounded"
(Bloomberg (June 8, 2009)