Throughout her ordeal, Laura says she was angry with herself for putting her family through such trauma. "I would go into the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror and think, 'Who are you and how did this happen?'" she says. "I slapped myself because I wanted to punish myself for putting my family through this. And I thought about that every day and the pain that they must be feeling. That was the hardest thing for me."

Back home, Lisa says her devastated family never lost hope that Laura would be freed but feared for her safety. "There were so many unprecedented aspects of this—no Americans had ever been tried in North Korea's Supreme Court. No American had ever been sentenced to 12 years hard labor," Lisa says. "Plus, North Korea was firing nuclear weapons at this time. It was a very, very tense period."

Lisa says from the moment she heard about Laura's capture, she called everyone she knew for help. "I knew that we were in a really, really difficult situation," she says. "There's so little our government can do because this is a country with which we have no diplomatic relationship. You can't just call someone and say, 'Can we discuss this situation?'"

Lisa says her parents were beside themselves. "My mom just stopped showering, and Iain had to tell her to take a bath and change her clothes one day," she says. "Our father who's usually a very kind of funny guy, cracking jokes all the time. ... The hardest thing is to hear your father cry. Just relentlessly crying is really a painful thing."


Next Story