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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 twelve 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. She speaks movingly about the emotional toll inflicted on her by her incarceration, including the measures she took to protect her sources and her fears that she might never see her family again.

Lisa writes about her unrelenting efforts to secure Laura and Euna's release. Offering insights into the vast media campaign spearheaded on the women's behalf, Lisa also takes us deep into the drama involving people at the highest levels of government, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Senator John Kerry, and Governor Bill Richardson—intense discussions that entailed strategically balancing the agendas and good intentions of the various players. She also describes her role in the back-and-forth between North Korea's demands and the dramatic rescue by former President Bill Clinton.

Though they were thousands of miles apart while Laura was in captivity, the Ling sisters' relationship became a way for the reclusive North Korean government to send messages to the United States government, which helped lead to Laura and Euna's eventual release.

Told in the sisters' alternating voices, Somewhere Inside is a timely, inspiring, and page-turning 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.

Published: HarperCollins on May 18, 2010
ISBN: 9780062010711
List price: $10.99
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Good book to understand a little about North Korea, though it is poor in literary terms.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I have been a huge fan of Lisa Ling ever since she was on The View. In fact when she left I pretty much stopped watching it. I liked how she would bring stories to our attention that I never knew were going on. When the story of how her sister Laura Ling and her colleague, Euna Lee had been captured and were being held prisoner in North Korea broke, I was surprised to learn that she had a sister in the same field as she. I was very concerned for Laura and Euna Lee and prayed for them. The two were working on a documentary about North Korean defectors who had fled the terrible conditions in their country only to end up in some terrible situations in China. While near the China- North Korean border the girls were captured by North Korean soldiers and dragged into North Korea where they were imprisoned. The book is told alternately through both Laura's eyes and Lisa's eyes. Laura tells of her ordeal in prison and being tried in North Korea. She was determined to survive and find a way out of what seemed to be a no-win situation. Lisa tells of what it was like waiting and wondering and how she diligently worked to find a way to bring her sister home. I don't think two sister's could be any closer to each other. You will want to hug your sister tightly after reading this book.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
On a very frigid morning in March, 2009, Laura Ling, Euna Lee, and Mitch Koss crossed a frozen river from China and spent a few minutes on the North Korean bank of the river before turning back to China. Their purpose was to produce a documentary about the defectors fleeing North Korea into an uncertain future in China. Before they reached the Chinese bank, they were chased by North Korean soldiers. Mitch escaped. Laura and Euna spent 5 months detained by the North Korean government, not knowing what would happen to them. This is Laura's story of her imprisonment alternating with sister Lisa's story of her struggles to bring the prisoners home.Many of us know some of the story because of the media coverage. Now we can know much more of what really happened and the behind-the-scene struggles. I found the book fascinating, as entertaining (to use a word inappropriate for the gravity of the situation) as any spy novel out there, even though I knew how this one was going to end.There was little in the story about Euna because she and Laura had a few days together before they were separated. Neither knew what was happening to the other. They didn't know what would happen to themselves, whether they would be released, go to a work prison camp, or be executed. After the violence at the time of the arrest, Laura was not treated viciously or violently, but that is certainly not to say that she was treated well. Still, in some respects, they were treated better than the average citizens of the country.It seems hopeful that with the few people Laura met on a frequent basis, such as her guards and her interpreter, there was eventually a grudging kinship, person getting to know person, rather than governments with opposite agendas. There were unexpected kindnesses.I was amazed to learn of all the people who wanted to help, from bloggers to many people in government, to celebrities. Michael Jackson, just before he died, learned that North Korea's leader Kim Jon Il is a fan of Hollywood movies, and Jackson offered to go to Korea if it would help. In a rough part of Los Angeles where gang warfare is a part of life, both a “working girl” and a homeless person told Lisa that they were praying for Laura. Throughout, the strength and meaning of family was an unbreakable bond.One very minor problem in the writing for me is the use of “girls” to describe Euna and Laura. In one case, it was a strategic move, entirely appropriate, but in the others, it seemed a little flippant.There are people who given this book very low ratings because they believe that what this team did was wrong. While I respect that point of view, it does not lessen the impact the book had on me. Yes, the team broke laws. And they caused our government to be put in a very touchy situation. Crossing into North Korea was stupid, even if their guide, who apparently set them up, said it was safe. And the outcome might have been very different if the Lings didn't have friends and connections in the proverbial high places. Nevertheless, I am grateful that we have journalists who are willing to go that extra mile to report the controversial, hidden stories, and I am grateful that we are able to hear and read and see those stories.read more
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Good book to understand a little about North Korea, though it is poor in literary terms.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I have been a huge fan of Lisa Ling ever since she was on The View. In fact when she left I pretty much stopped watching it. I liked how she would bring stories to our attention that I never knew were going on. When the story of how her sister Laura Ling and her colleague, Euna Lee had been captured and were being held prisoner in North Korea broke, I was surprised to learn that she had a sister in the same field as she. I was very concerned for Laura and Euna Lee and prayed for them. The two were working on a documentary about North Korean defectors who had fled the terrible conditions in their country only to end up in some terrible situations in China. While near the China- North Korean border the girls were captured by North Korean soldiers and dragged into North Korea where they were imprisoned. The book is told alternately through both Laura's eyes and Lisa's eyes. Laura tells of her ordeal in prison and being tried in North Korea. She was determined to survive and find a way out of what seemed to be a no-win situation. Lisa tells of what it was like waiting and wondering and how she diligently worked to find a way to bring her sister home. I don't think two sister's could be any closer to each other. You will want to hug your sister tightly after reading this book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
On a very frigid morning in March, 2009, Laura Ling, Euna Lee, and Mitch Koss crossed a frozen river from China and spent a few minutes on the North Korean bank of the river before turning back to China. Their purpose was to produce a documentary about the defectors fleeing North Korea into an uncertain future in China. Before they reached the Chinese bank, they were chased by North Korean soldiers. Mitch escaped. Laura and Euna spent 5 months detained by the North Korean government, not knowing what would happen to them. This is Laura's story of her imprisonment alternating with sister Lisa's story of her struggles to bring the prisoners home.Many of us know some of the story because of the media coverage. Now we can know much more of what really happened and the behind-the-scene struggles. I found the book fascinating, as entertaining (to use a word inappropriate for the gravity of the situation) as any spy novel out there, even though I knew how this one was going to end.There was little in the story about Euna because she and Laura had a few days together before they were separated. Neither knew what was happening to the other. They didn't know what would happen to themselves, whether they would be released, go to a work prison camp, or be executed. After the violence at the time of the arrest, Laura was not treated viciously or violently, but that is certainly not to say that she was treated well. Still, in some respects, they were treated better than the average citizens of the country.It seems hopeful that with the few people Laura met on a frequent basis, such as her guards and her interpreter, there was eventually a grudging kinship, person getting to know person, rather than governments with opposite agendas. There were unexpected kindnesses.I was amazed to learn of all the people who wanted to help, from bloggers to many people in government, to celebrities. Michael Jackson, just before he died, learned that North Korea's leader Kim Jon Il is a fan of Hollywood movies, and Jackson offered to go to Korea if it would help. In a rough part of Los Angeles where gang warfare is a part of life, both a “working girl” and a homeless person told Lisa that they were praying for Laura. Throughout, the strength and meaning of family was an unbreakable bond.One very minor problem in the writing for me is the use of “girls” to describe Euna and Laura. In one case, it was a strategic move, entirely appropriate, but in the others, it seemed a little flippant.There are people who given this book very low ratings because they believe that what this team did was wrong. While I respect that point of view, it does not lessen the impact the book had on me. Yes, the team broke laws. And they caused our government to be put in a very touchy situation. Crossing into North Korea was stupid, even if their guide, who apparently set them up, said it was safe. And the outcome might have been very different if the Lings didn't have friends and connections in the proverbial high places. Nevertheless, I am grateful that we have journalists who are willing to go that extra mile to report the controversial, hidden stories, and I am grateful that we are able to hear and read and see those stories.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Engrossing read about the captivity of Laura Ling in North Korea and the efforts of her family to have her freed. Laura and her colleague Euna were doing a documentary on the horrible living conditions in North Korea- hunger, extreme poverty, no medical care. The women were captured by the North Koreans and imprisoned while the North Koreans were doing nuclear testing and there are NO diplomatic relations with the United States.Makes you wonder about other political prisoners who are not fortunate enough to have the connections of the Ling family.
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Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home is a memoir of Laura Ling's time spent in captivity in North Korea and her sister, Lisa's, efforts to gain her release. This news story captured my attention as it was happening and I read this book to understand more about what had happened behind the scenes both in North Korea and here in the US.The book alternates between Laura's story in N. Korea and Lisa's perspective from home trying to get information about her sister and working to win her release. The chapters alternate between each sister's point of view; each sister's story has it's own font so it is easy to tell whose story is being told. It is clear that the sisters are very close - they each relate the story of their childhoods living with parents who fought constantly and how that drew them closer together as siblings with older sister Lisa protecting her "Baby Girl" Laura. They don't explore the past in any great detail except to provide context for their relationship - the focus of the book is the period between March 2009 and August 2009 while Laura was imprisoned by the North Koreans.As you would expect, Laura's part of the book recounts the time she spent in North Korea from when she and her fellow journalist, Euna Lee, were captured after stepping briefly over the border between China and North Korea, through their trial and sentence to twelve years hard labor and finally their release which was brokered with a visit by former President Bill Clinton. Lisa's chapters told the story of what was going on at home while the events unfolded in North Korea - she spoke of the impact Laura's captivity had on each of her parents, on Laura's husband Iain, and on herself. More interesting to me, however, was the detail on the media campaign and political wrangling that took place in an effort to release the two journalists. Lisa determinedly pursued every avenue politically to try to win the girls' release and it was fascinating to read about all the personalities and egos at play in the effort. It did make me wonder, however, whether if Lisa Ling had not been so well connected in the media and political worlds, if her sister and Euna Lee would ever have been released. She had a level of access to political figures not available to most.Overall, I liked the book - I read it to learn more about what happened behind the scenes during the incident and I certainly got that from the book. The one thing that didn't sit well with me was the relative lack of emotionality present in the book. This was obviously a very trying time for both sisters but it seemed as if emotions were addressed with a level of detachment that made it difficult to really feel what they were going through - it was subtle but defintely there. That being said, however, the book still delivers the story of two amazingly determined, intelligent women caught in the middle of a geopolitical firestorm - makes for a interesting read!
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This was an excellent book--very well written.
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