I looked out the window of my room at the Tumen Hotel and could see the twinkling lights from a North Korean village off in the distance. We'd been told that at different times, the whole area across the border goes pitch-black from electricity shortages. An hour later, I peered out the window again and could not spot a single light on the other side. Satellite images of the Korean peninsula at night paint a stark picture of a brightly illuminated South Korea compared with the North, which is bathed in utter darkness. It's as if a child had taken a black marker to the upper half of the peninsula.

I set my iPod to wake me up at 4:00 a.m. It was already 1:00 a.m. by the time I got into bed. I figured I'd plow through on little sleep until we were on our flight later that afternoon, when I could take a nap. By 4:15 a.m., the time our team had arranged to meet, I was in the lobby. After about five minutes of waiting groggily, I decided to knock on everyone's doors to roust the group. Our guide had been adamant about our filming early because he figured there would be fewer people around. I rapped on Mitch's door; he was gathering his belongings. But when I knocked on Euna's and our guide's doors, no one answered in either room. I began pounding on Euna's door and shouting out her name. Confused and worried, I went down to the lobby and had the woman at the front desk call her room. After several rings, Euna finally picked up. She explained that she and the guide had gone out to the river to try to get some evening shots. They had been out late, which is why they overslept. She called the guide's room to wake him up. We were out the door of the hotel fifteen minutes later.

On our way to the river, our guide, who lived in the area, stopped off at his home to pick up a warmer jacket. The morning chill was numbing. I had on multiple layers of clothing under the coat Lisa had loaned me, along with a thick scarf and gloves. Despite the weight, I was glad to have on my sheepskin-lined leather boots. Our guide emerged wearing a long black coat. At first I didn't notice anything odd about the jacket, but when he turned away from me I spotted the word police written in English on the back. A badge on the sleeve revealed what appeared to be a Chinese police patch. I felt slightly uneasy with his disguising himself as a cop, but I figured he'd done this before and knew what he was doing. I took his attire to be a precautionary measure, one that he had used on previous excursions to the river with media to better avoid detection.

As we drove to the river, our guide told Euna in Korean that he had decided to go to a different location than the one he had previously mapped out. There was a spot a little farther down the way that he thought would be better for us to film. I didn't think much of this change in plans. The guide was from the area and knew the vicinity well. Foreign journalists place a lot of trust in their local fixers or guides, and I didn't feel any reason to question his decision.

Excerpted from Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home by Laura Ling & Lisa Ling. Copyright © 2010 by HarperCollins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission in writing from the publisher.


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