Patricia Wellingham-Jones — The book Somewhere Inside by Laura Ling & Lisa Ling (William Morrow, 2010) is about two American women who were captured while working on a documentary and held in North Korea for months while a sister worked every angle she knew to bring them home.
In March 2009, journalist Laura Ling and translator Euna Lee were filming a documentary on defectors from North Korea at the border between that country and China when they accidentally set foot on the forbidden soil of North Korea. They ran across the frozen river toChinabut were stopped, dragged back toNorth Koreaby guards and brutally beaten. Thus began five months of captivity in the most secretive Communist state in the world.
The memoir is written in two alternating voices: Laura Ling describes in riveting detail her imprisonment, interrogations and eventual trial (a first in history); her big sister, journalist Lisa Ling, tells of her unrelenting efforts to gain Laura’s and Euna’s release. She tapped colleagues in the media, former Vice President Al Gore, the US State Department including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, politicians, anybody anywhere who might help, and finally wrote a pleading letter to President Obama to approve former President Bill Clinton’s trip to negotiate the women’s release. This happened while the North Koreans were testing nuclear devices, to the world’s dismay and disapproval, further complicating the rescue.
Along with the geopolitical tale unfolding, the book provides a long and loving look at the deep bond between sisters. Whether you approve or not of the lengths journalists will go for a story and the help they require when they get into trouble, this true tale is a fascinating read, full of rich details about a culture we little understand and the hope that grows when enemies stop being faceless and become individuals we get to know and care about.
About the Author
Patricia Wellingham-Jones is a former psychology researcher and writer/editor with an interest in healing writing and the benefits of writing and reading work together. Widely published in poetry and nonfiction, she writes for the review department of Recovering the Self: a journal of hope and healing and has authored ten chapbooks of poetry.