While the United States engages in delicate diplomatic moves, the situation in North Korea for Lisa Ling’s sister and another journalist is becoming worse.
Preparations for an indictment are already underway, with Laura Ling and Euna Lee headed for a trial on the basis of “already confirmed suspicions,” according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
“The illegal entry of U.S. reporters into the DPRK and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements,” the news agency said.
Ling and Lee, who work for former Vice President Al Gore’s media venture Current TV, were captured by a North Korean military patrol on March 17 near the North Korea/China border. The journalists were in China filming a documentary on North Korean defectors who reside there.
A Swedish diplomat – acting on behalf of the United States, which has no diplomatic relations with North Korea – visited the two women over the weekend. “We are working to resolve the situation diplomatically and Secretary Clinton is engaged on the matter,” State Department spokesman Joel Clay tells PEOPLE. Adds a State Department source: “This is a particularly tricky case.”
“It is hard to say how this situation will be resolved,” says South Korean human rights activist Rev. Chun Ki-won, who advised Ling and Lee on their trip and spoke with them by phone the morning of their arrest. “North Korea is a country where common sense is eluded.”
Earlier this year, Ling, 32, acknowledged that her work sometimes put her in harm’s way. “We go to a lot of dangerous places,” she told a gathering of television critics. “But we don’t do it for the danger and the drama. We do it because these stories are important and they need to be told.”
“I cautioned them about their investigation,” Rev. Chun tells PEOPLE. “But Laura is a skilled reporter who has experienced dangerous assignments the past.”