Current TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee automatically became heroes after being snatched up by the North Korean government, because that's just how things work, in America. But some activists overseas think the women hurt more than they helped.
Activists in South Korea and China who help North Korean refugees flee their shitty country say that when Ling and Lee were arrested, the entire refugee-saving program was compromised. One South Korean pastor who had helped guide Ling and Lee on their reporting trip says that just days after their arrest, the police came knocking, and confronted him with video footage that the Current reporters had taken of his operation. He tells the NYT:
The Rev. Lee Chan-woo, a South Korean pastor, said the police raided his home in China on March 19, four days after the journalists visited and filmed a secret site where he looked after children of North Korean refugee women. He said that he was then deported in early April and that his five secret homes for refugees were shut down. The children, he said, were dispersed to family members in China, who could not afford to take care of them.
The organization in question, called Durihana, is pissed. They say Ling and Lee were reckless, and that Current didn't follow up with the group quickly enough to keep tabs on what was happening after the reporters' arrest.
Understandable, but not fair. You can hardly blame Ling and Lee for having their records snatched after they were arrested. Could they have been more careful? Maybe. But they wanted to get a story in North Korea, and that involves risk. There's no getting around it. And just as the reporters take risks to get the story, organizations speaking to the reporters voluntarily take risks by speaking to the media. The reward is getting the message out about North Korean refugees; the risk is having what happened happen.
Had Ling and Lee not been imprisoned in North Korea, they surely would have done everything they could to ensure the privacy of the refugee group. But they had this problem: they were imprisoned in North Korea.