Two female soldiers led us across a courtyard. As we stumbled from one building to the next, I could hear military drills being conducted nearby. The sounds of boots marching to a beat and the cadence of the soldiers' voices sent my heart thumping with trepidation.
Our blindfolds were removed after we entered a room much like the previous one. We were told that someone was coming to take us to another base. Now that it was clear we were leaving these officers' jurisdiction, the air seemed to become a little more relaxed, and for a brief period we were left alone with our belongings. With soldiers right outside our door, we scrambled nervously to destroy whatever evidence we thought might get our sources, interview subjects, and us in trouble.
I told Euna I had deleted some pictures from my camera.
"What should I do with my videotapes?" Euna asked.
"I don't know," I replied, trying to recall what was on the tapes.
Two of them contained an interview I had conducted with a recent North Korean defector. He, unlike the women we'd spoken to, had fled because he was upset with North Korea's political system. While Euna's tapes did not reveal the man's identity because she had only filmed the lower part of his body, the types of questions I had asked him could be quite damaging to our situation. Euna proceeded to rip the ribbons on the tapes so they would not be viewable.
I had a small notebook, and several of the pages inside contained interview questions for Pastor Chun Ki-Won and a professor in Seoul, two men whose work is considered subversive by the North Korean government. I carefully ripped the pages out of the notebook. Euna told me to give her a page. She crumpled up the paper and put it in her mouth, chewing and swallowing. I followed her lead. Fearing I might exacerbate my recurring ulcer, I ripped the other page up into small pieces and put it in my pocket. Later on, I asked a guard if I could use the toilet, which was an outhouse on a raised platform. I wrapped the small bits of notes in a sheet of toilet paper and dropped it into the trough below.