Guy Adams: My encounter with Ling as she departed

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The Independent Online

In a conversation that now seems eerily prescient, Laura Ling recently told me how fate had conspired to send her to two of the world's most dangerous international borders, in quick succession.

We were speaking in early March as she sat in a car to Los Angeles airport. She would board a flight to China that afternoon, before travelling to Jilin Province in Manchuria, bordering North Korea.

Ling, a reporter for Current TV, the cable news channel founded by Al Gore (who has only once publicly commented on her plight), intended to report on the hitherto-undocumented sex-trafficking trade between the two nations. It was the latest in a series of documentaries about the smuggling industry. Indeed, the purpose of my call was to discuss Ling's film, Narco War Next Door, about the drugs-related conflict which has killed almost 7,000 people on the US/Mexican border this year.

What happened on 17 March is unclear. Unconfirmed reports suggest Ling and her colleague Euna Lee were arrested at 2am, near a bridge over the Tumen River, which separates China and North Korea.

The region can be confusing to outsiders. Many parts are unfenced and the exact border line alternates between different sides of the river along its 300-mile length. Some friends believe Ling and Lee accidentally wandered into Korean territory. Others say that they were snatched from the Chinese side after annoying border guards by filming them.