Despite her sentence, Laura was not sent to the labor camp immediately. Because of her history with painful ulcers, Laura was sent to a hospital for an endoscopy to see if she was fit to work. "I've had several [endoscopies], and I never felt a thing. [U.S. doctors] always put me under anesthesia," she says. "I said [to the North Korean medical staff,] 'Will you be putting me under?' And they said, 'It will feel just like it felt in the U.S.'" 

Laura received no anesthesia. "They gave me something, and it just made me a little bit dizzy, but I could feel everything and I was completely alert," she says. "They put a device in my mouth so that I couldn't speak, and my body just began to writhe and I was releasing huge gusts of air and it was the most uncomfortable feeling."

Laura says the medical staff was only working with what they had available. "They are a very, very poor country, and that's what they used to look into my stomach and determine that I did, in fact, have an ulcer," she says. "They said that they would keep me under medical detention until my ulcer got better so that I could serve in the labor camp."


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