For this assignment along the Chinese-North Korean border, one of my two colleagues, Mitch Koss, was someone with whom I'd been working closely for the past several years. Mitch had been a mentor to me, a driving force in my decision to pursue journalism. I also considered him an extended member of my family. He'd worked with my sister, Lisa, when she was just starting her journalism career. After Lisa left Channel One News, where she and Mitch had worked together for five years, he approached me to help him with an assignment as a researcher. I jumped at the opportunity.
Over the years, Mitch and I worked on more than three dozen stories spanning the globe, including a visit in the summer of 2002 to North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, where we, along with the Korean-American tour group to which we were assigned, were taken on a highly monitored tour of the capital's most impressive monuments and sights.
Then in 2005 I was hired by Current TV, former Vice President Al Gore's cable network, to develop its journalism department. Mitch was also brought on board by Current to advise other young journalists. Each week, our unit produced a half-hour investigative documentary program called Vanguard. In addition to my role as manager of the sixteen-person team, I was also one of the on-air correspondents, reporting from various locations around the world. In the past year, I had covered China's restive Muslim population, life on parole in America, and Mexico's drug war. Now I was here in China's frigid northeast reporting on the trafficking of North Korean women.
My other colleague, Euna, was an editor in our journalism department. Because of her fluency in Korean, she was working on the project as a translator as well as a coproducer. Euna is a Korean American and I knew this made her particularly devoted to the assignment. She had been in communication with Pastor Chun in advance of our trip and, with his help, made most of our filming arrangements.