Detained Journalist Makes Contact, And Michael Jackson Wanted To Help

Yesterday, journalist Lisa Ling received a third phone call from her sister Laura, now imprisoned in North Korea for 114 days, and a friend of Michael Jackson says the King of Pop wished he could help Laura and Euna Lee.

Ling says that in the phone call, her first communication with her sister in weeks, Laura "was very specific about the message that she was communicating, and she said, 'Look, we violated North Korean law and we need our government to help us. We are sorry about everything that has happened, but we need diplomacy.' " She also says it was hard to tell how Laura was doing, but she remains concerned for her sister's health and that of Euna Lee. Laura said in a previous conversation that "she won't survive if she is sent to a labor camp," perhaps because of an ulcer she believes has gotten worse since her imprisonment.

Lisa Ling is still hopeful that the US and North Korea can come to a diplomatic solution to the reporters' imprisonment. "Our countries don't talk," she says, "and perhaps this could be a reason." Supporters of the two women have started a website to advocate for their release, and vigils will be held tonight in Paris, Washington, San Francisco, Sacramento and Phoenix.

According to Gotham Chopra, Ling and Lee have lost one supporter — Michael Jackson, who heard about their plight and was especially upset to learn that Euna Lee was separated from her four-year-old daughter. Chopra says Jackson asked him, "Do you think that the leader of North Korea could be a fan of mine?" He hoped that, if Kim Jong Il enjoyed his music, he might be able to have some influence over the situation. The notion isn't totally far-fetched — Kim Jong Il is a noted pop culture junkie who even kidnapped celebrities to make movies for him. However, Chopra was unable to determine if the North Korean leader was a Jackson fan, and Jackson died before he could do anything. If Kim Jong Il in fact did like Jackson's music, Chopra asks him to release Ling and Lee "as a commemoration of possibly the greatest icon of our times." "Wouldn't it be staggering if one Kim Jong Il were to honor him," Chopra asks, "as a truly great humanitarian?"

Sister Hears From Journalist Held In N. Korea [CNN]
Laura Ling And Euna Lee: 113 Days [LA Observed]
Free Laura Ling And Euna Lee [Official Site]
Marcos Breton: Lisa Ling Waits Out This Story [Sacramento Bee]