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Korean Media Cheer Reporters' Release

New America Media, News Report, Anthony Advincula and Eunji Jang Posted: Aug 04, 2009

NEW YORK -- As the news spread about the release of two U.S. journalists from a North Korean prison, the biggest question for some Korean ethnic media is: How about the South Koreans the North has been holding as hostages for years?

The pardon earlier today of Current TV reporters Euna Lee and Lisa Ling during the visit of former U.S. President Bill Clinton could just be a reflection of how North Korea is willing to make peace agreements with the United States -- but not with South Korea.

"It is very difficult to free our own South Korean hostages because North Korea intentionally treats our government differently. We are not America," said Jong Hoon Kim, editor of Korea Daily in Atlanta, Ga.

The American government, Kim added, is willing to make negotiations. "South Korean President Lee Myung Bak is conservative. He doesn't want to negotiate. Under the Obama administration, American politics is more democratic and open to peace talks."

The result, Kim said, is that hundreds of South Korean hostages languish in North Korean prisons. These hostages the most recent of whom include two fishermen have been taken in small groups over time and stand little chance of release.

Albert Hong, reporter for Korea Daily in Washington, D.C., said that North Korea wants to show the world that its government can make a deal with America, the most powerful country in the world.

"North Korea is in dire situation, politically. They have the missiles and the world doesn't like it. So a negotiation (like the release of the American journalists) could alleviate the pressure," said Hong.

Lee, 36, was a South Korean native and became a U.S. citizen after she came to the United States in 1995. Ling, 32, was born in the United States and is a younger sister of Lisa Ling, a co-host of ABC's The View.

Lee and Ling were arrested after accidentally crossing the North Korean border to work on a story for California-based Current TV.

Korean Americans were thrilled to hear about the release of the American journalists, and that the issue had been resolved.

Chung Hoon Yun, editor-in-chief of Korea Times in New York, said that the pardon is considred to be a victory for many Korean Americans.

"Many Koreans here participated in a rally held at New York University several months ago. They advocated for the release of Lee and Ling," Yun said.

For those "who are interested in this issue'" he continued, "the release is great news. "

In LauraandEuna.com, the Ling and Lee families expressed their gratitude.

"We are so gateful to our government: President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department for their dedication to and hard work on behalf of American citizens.

"We must also thank all the people who have supported our families through this ordeal. It has meant the world to us. We are counting the seconds to hold Laura and Euna," the Web site said.

Although there has been no official statement about their trip to the United States, some are hopeful that it will happen soon.

"We feel that they will be flying back to the United States -- with or without Bill Clinton -- tomorrow and reunite with their families," said Borah Jung, reporter for Korea Daily in New York.

Related Articles:

Korean Activist Warned Detained Reporters Not to Cross Border

South Korea Sidelined in U.S. Journalist Drama in Pyongyang

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