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Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 18, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 2009, Laura Ling, a reporter with Current TV, traveled with a film crew to the region of China that bordered on North Korea to report on defections, particularly of women who were later forced into arranged marriages or sex slavery. The crew momentarily crossed into North Korea, and Ling and Euna Lee, her editor and translator, were captured. Given the hostilities between North Korea and China and a recent critical documentary on North Korea by Laura’s sister, journalist Lisa Ling, the women knew they were in for an ordeal. Laura was beaten during the capture, and the women were held in isolation and faced meager meals, cold, and little medical treatment. In the U.S., Lisa and her family prayed and called on powerful contacts, including Al Gore and Bill Richardson, to win the women’s release. During the time of their captivity, North Korea conducted a nuclear test and fired off missiles, increasing tensions with the U.S. and UN. The women were eventually tried for attempting to overthrow the government and sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp, but through behind-the-scenes maneuvering and negotiations with prickly North Korea, they were finally released after five months in captivity. This memoir alternates between the sisters, with Laura recalling the escalating peril of her capture and imprisonment and Lisa recalling heightened worries as weeks dragged into months. A riveting story of captivity and the enduring faith, determination, and love of two sisters. --Vanessa Bush

From the Back Cover

On March 17, 2009, Laura Ling and her colleague Euna Lee were working on a documentary about North Korean defectors who were fleeing the desperate conditions in their homeland. While filming on the Chinese–North Korean border, they were chased down by North Korean soldiers who violently apprehended them. Laura and Euna were charged with trespassing and "hostile acts," and imprisoned by Kim Jong Il's notoriously secretive Communist state. Kept totally apart, they endured months of interrogations and eventually a trial before North Korea's highest court. They were the first Americans ever to be sentenced to twelve years of hard labor in a prison camp in North Korea.

When news of the arrest reached Laura's sister, journalist Lisa Ling, she immediately began a campaign to get her sister released, one that led her from the State Department to the higher echelons of the media world and eventually to the White House.

Somewhere Inside reveals for the first time Laura's gripping account of what really happened on the river, her treatment at the hands of North Korean guards, and the deprivations and rounds of harrowing interrogations she endured. She speaks movingly about the emotional toll inflicted on her by her incarceration, including the measures she took to protect her sources and her fears that she might never see her family again.

Lisa writes about her unrelenting efforts to secure Laura and Euna's release. Offering insights into the vast media campaign spearheaded on the women's behalf, Lisa also takes us deep into the drama involving people at the highest levels of government, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Senator John Kerry, and Governor Bill Richardson—intense discussions that entailed strategically balancing the agendas and good intentions of the various players. She also describes her role in the back-and-forth between North Korea's demands and the dramatic rescue by former President Bill Clinton.

Though they were thousands of miles apart while Laura was in captivity, the Ling sisters' relationship became a way for the reclusive North Korean government to send messages to the United States government, which helped lead to Laura and Euna's eventual release.

Told in the sisters' alternating voices, Somewhere Inside is a timely, inspiring, and page-turning tale of survival set against the canvas of international politics that goes beyond the headlines to reveal the impact on lives engulfed by forces beyond their control. But it is also a window into the unique bond these two sisters have always shared, a bond that sustained them throughout the most horrifying ordeal of their lives.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (May 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062000675
  • ASIN: B004E3XI8K
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,079,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 161 people found the following review helpful By B. Park on February 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My take on this book is quite different from others. I have a mixed review of this book and the actions of the author, mainly negative ones.

I have a great deal of interest in anything that deals with North Korea. (NK) I followed this story closely when it unfolded. I also saw the Ling sisters give countless interviews about the events, during and after it occurred.

On the positive front: If you just look at this book on an emotional level as a tale of sisters bonding and rooting for Laura Ling to get out of the hellhole known as NK, you will love this book. It is well written and very detailed. Due to the frankness and the clear writing, you will feel yourself transported into the shoes of these sisters and feel as if you were going through these events yourself. Both sisters write well and as a result, there is a great amount of suspense and page-turning effect that makes you keep reading.
Both sisters are pretty honest. And so as a reader, you end up liking them and cheering for them. It is an emotional tale with a happy ending: when you either read about or see the video footage on the internet, seeing Laura and Euna getting off the plane and being reunited with their families will move you to tears. I mean if that doesn't get you misty eyed, there seriously is something wrong with your heart. I was so happy and joyed to see the women return and embrace their families. And the efforts of President Clinton, Vice-President Gore, President Obama, and everyone else should be commended for getting these two ladies home. They are daughters, wives, friends, loved ones, and in the case of Euna Lee, a mother. And so on a humanitarian heart level, this is a feel-good story and a survival tale.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By silhouette_of_enchantment on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Laura Ling's story about her detainment in North Korea is emotional, insightful and heart wrenching. It was interesting to learn about the two sister's perspectives, since I've followed Laura's story, from the beginning when I learned of her capture. Reading about Laura's terrifying capture by soldiers, her beating, inquisition and survival as a political prisoner in North Korea, was fascinating. It was also interesting to see the family dynamics between their divorced parents, and her older sister, Lisa's, dedication toward working for her sister's release.

At first, I thought Laura's story was courageous, and on some level, I still do. However, after reading "Escape from Camp 14" about Shin Dong-hyuk's birth and internment inside a North Korean total-control camp, it completely changed my perspective of this work.

I know that Laura Ling was trying to do some good when she started her investigative piece by uncovering what North Korean women endured in order to escape to freedom. Some women were trafficked to China; others ended up in prostitution. But, as other reviewers have mentioned, Laura could and should have stayed on the Chinese side of the river to get the same film shots to tell the same story. No one would have known the difference.

I have to agree with other reviewers, that Laura Ling, by even hinting that her captors showed compassion toward her, has put them in extraordinary danger. Even if she doesn't mention them directly by name, the government knows who was assigned to guard Laura. Anyone --whether they're a North Korean soldier, regular citizen or so-called "traitors" of the government, is in peril if they even show tolerance to that totalitarian regime's enemies. The United States and Americans top the list.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Weakley on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The beginning of the book was interesting and caught my attention by the subject matter. However, Laura Ling reveals herself as self-centered, spoiled, and lacking moral fiber.

First she does two things that are clearly illegal: 1. she goes to China under a tourist visa rather than a journalist visa and 2. She crosses into North Korea, (stupid as well as illegal). After her initial capture, she is handled with kid gloves (compared to usual NK standards).

Next, Laura confesses to crimes she did not commit. While some may say that is acceptable in order to save her from prison and possible death, I find her actions disgusting when contrasted with the courage of prisoners of war (read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand). She never weighs the moral question or her integrity in regard to confessing to the crimes; her only concern is whether or not a confession will get her off the hook. Countless aid workers, journalists, missionaries and prisoners of war have suffered far worse and conducted themselves far better. She's an embarrassment.

Laura considers herself to be so important that she and her sister literally minipulate the highest level of US foreign policy and politicians (Obama, his siter, Gore, the Clintons, a senator and governor). Her selfishness and sense of self importance is unbelievable. She clearly enjoys hob-knobbing with the political elites and considers herself in their circle. But she is a cry-baby and she puts herself above others who have served and suffered far more than she (Laura essentially serves only herself).
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