North Korean backstory

First, simple gratitude: Thank you, Vice President Gore, for founding Current and employing such inspiring journalists as Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Thank you, President Clinton, for securing their safe return.

Ever since Ling and Lee were first detained in North Korea, I kept thinking there was a largely untold religion angle to their story. I did not presume this was for any sinister reasons, but because journalists were more focused on other details, such as whether the two young women would ever be free again.

Well, there is a religion angle. In the weeks ahead, remember the name of the Rev. Chun Ki Won. He appeared in the occasional news story as the man who helped arrange the journalists' investigation into human trafficking, and advised them on the risks they were taking.

For a good introduction to the work of this South Korean missionary, watch the embedded video from the PBS series Wide Angle. In July that series devoted an episode, "Crossing Heaven's Border," to the plight of North Koreans trying to escape their country.

Until Laura Ling and Euna Lee are ready to tell their stories, this PBS report is a good primer in the horrors that attracted their journalistic interest.

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