Name: Laura Ling
Hails from: Los Angeles
Known for: Speaking up when no one else will. Those of us who weren’t already familiar with Ling’s work on Current TV’s Vanguard documentary series quickly got to know her last year when, while shooting a segment on human trafficking for the show, she (with shooter/producer Euna Lee) was arrested on the Chinese/North Korean border and detained by the North Korean government. Interested parties around the world bit their fingernails as few details emerged about the girls’ situation, while they were sentenced to twelve years in a labor camp and subsequently pardoned after a noisy media campaign helmed by sister Lisa and a visit to Kim Jong Il by envoy President Clinton.
To ensure her release, Ling’s agreement with the North Korean government included no public reports on North Korean human rights abuses. But she’s speaking out about both the issue and her captivity—with a book, through news outlets, and on the largest podium on the planet: Oprah.
In June, I stood before a North Korean judge and expressed my hope that the United States and North Korea might one day establish closer relations. That desire still exists.
I also promised that if released, I would never report on the issue of defectors or North Korean human rights abuses again. That is an oath I cannot keep as long as the people of North Korea remain silenced.
This chick’s got balls and a voice, and she’s not afraid to use them.
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