North Korea has detained two female American journalists, U.S. media said yesterday.
The two have been identified as Korean American Euna Lee and Chinese American Laura Ling, who work for the California-based online media outlet Current TV. Their Chinese guide was also caught by North Korean soldiers while filming in Tumen near the North`s border with China along the Duman River.
The United States is reportedly in talks with the North over the release of the two journalists.
The reporters were covering North Korean defectors hiding in China for an investigative documentary.
According to the Rev. Chun Ki-won of the Seoul-based Durihana Mission, who helped the reporters head for China, they flew to the Chinese border city of Yanji from Seoul and went to Tumen. They were scheduled to finish their coverage Wednesday morning and visit Dandong, another Chinese border city.
Though no details are known of how they were taken into North Korean custody, Chun said the soldiers might have coaxed the reporters to come near the border by promising to allow them to film Chinese trading with merchants.
Other reports said, however, that they were arrested after accidentally crossing into North Korea while filming a scene near the border.
Japans NHK TV quoted a U.S. government official as saying Monday that Pyongyang and Washington are secretly negotiating the release of the two journalists.
In 1999, the North detained Karen Han, a Korean-American businesswoman who visited a North Korean free trade zone near the Chinese border, and released her a month later.
In 1996, Evan Hunziker was taken into custody by the North after crossing the Amnok River. U.S. Congressman Bill Richardson went to Pyongyang and negotiated Hunziker`s release.