Once in custody, Laura says she and Euna were only together for six of the 140 days. "It was a 5-by-6-foot cell, and there were a couple of slats on the doors. There were no bars, so you couldn't see out, and if they closed those slats, it just went completely dark," Laura says. "There was no way to communicate with the outside world."
Their top priority, Laura says, was destroying tapes and notes that contained information about their investigation. "It was the first day we were captured, and for some reason we were left alone with our belongings for a short period of time," she says. "So with guards right outside our door, we thought, 'We need to get rid of this evidence because we don't want anyone to be endangered."
Although Laura and Euna had filmed people from behind and never got their full faces, they didn't want to take any chances. "We didn't want to have this evidence out there that I was asking such subversive questions of these people about the government," she says. "We ripped up notes from the notebook, ate them, ripped up videotapes, deleted pictures and did whatever we could in the little time that we had to destroy the evidence in our possession."
Lisa, who reported undercover in North Korea in 2006, says the notes complicated Laura and Euna's case. "Americans had been detained in North Korea previously, but to our knowledge, nobody actually had any evidence on them of trying to do anything that they could perceive as trying to subvert the government," she says. "Here, these two girls were working on a piece that profiled people who had escaped from this government."