- Posted June 4, 2009 by
Santa Monica, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
U.S. journalists freed
Los Angeles Vigil for Laura Ling and Euna Lee
It was an emotional night in Santa Monica, CA for the families and friends of Laura Ling and Euna Lee. The two American reporters being held in North Korea face their trial today, at any moment we could learn the fate of the girls. I don't know the girls or their families, most people at the vigil tonight did not, we all came together tonight to show the Ling and Lee families support and send strength to the girls in North Korea. My passion for journalism was sparked by Lisa Ling (sister of Laura). I first saw her reporting on Channel One when I was in Jr. High School. She inspired me to learn more about the world and dig deeper into stories, to grab my camera and capture images when I felt something needed to be seen or heard by the masses. When I heard about her sister, Laura and collegue Euna being detained my heart broke. I have been following this story since day one and I knew I needed to be at this vigil tonight to support the families and join together to send positive thoughts to the girls in North Korea. On my way to the vigil this evening I called my dad, he was in the army in South Korea. His job was to patrol the border to make sure the North Koreans did not kidnap people in order to make political statements, it was happening daily there. Is that what is really going on here? A political statement?
What I saw tonight was a family in pain. Lisa Ling is one hell of a journalist, with nerves of steel, tonight, I saw her break down in front of hundreds when she talked about her sister. I saw Laura Ling's father marching amongst all of us with a look of worry on his face that I have never seen on a mans face. I saw Laura and Euna's husbands absolutely beside themselves, almost lost in a sea of thought. I decided this evening, I would have been fired if I was a working journalist as there was one person I couldn't click the shutter on, that person was Laura's mother, Mary Ling. The pain, hurt, and concern in Mary's eyes was heart wrenching. I felt it would be disrespectful to capture those moments in a single frame. I have no images of her, except the one in my mind. After the vigil I went up to Mary to express my sympathies and I couldn't put a sentence together. I immediately started crying and said “I don't even know you. Your story has touched me so deeply. I am so sorry.” She pulled me in and gave me a huge hug and said 'thank you'.
These are good people and they are in pain. There is no doubt in my mind that these girls are good people too and they were just there covering a story, they did not mean any harm, they are not spys. If this is a political statement North Korea is trying to make, this isn't the way to do it. If there is any compassion in the hearts of these North Korean officials, release them. Let them come home.
To find out how you can help:
If nothing else, today, the girls go on trial. Please keep them in your thoughts.
In the photos: Lisa Ling, Doug Ling, Michael Saldate, Iain Clayton