Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two American journalists released after nearly five months in North Korean custody, have been widely portrayed at home as victims of unduly harsh punishment by a repressive government for simply doing their job.
But here in South Korea, human rights advocates, bloggers and Christian pastors are accusing them of needlessly endangering the very people they tried to cover: North Korean refugees and the activists who help them.
The accusations stem from a central fear repeated in newspapers and blogs here: that the notes and videotapes the journalists gathered in China before their ill-fated venture to the border fell into the hands of the authorities, potentially compromising the identities of refugees and activists dedicated to spiriting people out of the North.
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. (continues here at NYT)