Much has been written about Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two American journalists captured this March, imprisoned for five months in North Korea, and released on August 6. But on Wednesday, for the first time, their story was told in their own words.

Lee and Ling's story has unfolded over the past few months, and I have watched with interest, both because they are journalists and because they are women. I have tried to see myself in their situation in order to understand what they went through. But I have to admit, it is difficult to imagine myself hiking at sunrise across the border from China into North Korea, living in a third-world prison—or flying on a jet with Bill Clinton. It is even hard to imagine how they felt, behind the scenes, when they taped the "thank you" video posted the week after their return, much less during the ordeal in prison.

Instead, as I followed the story, I kept coming back to unanswered questions: Who are these women? What motivates them? And how did they survive?

Their statement didn't do much to answer these questions, but this sentence at least provides a clue: "One of us, Euna, is a devout Christian whose faith infused her interest in the story." Slowly, a new mental picture forms that is based on our shared faith.

When the two women, both in their 20s, were first detained, they were separated and repeatedly interrogated in a manner they describe as "rigorous." Their sentence was 12 years of hard labor, and Ling's well-known sister, Lisa, released details about the quality of the food they were given (small portions containing rocks) shortly after their release. In other words: Although the two women have not gone into detail about their imprisonment, it could not have been easy. Yet within ...

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