These (Agonizing) Days

These days, even the good days are pretty bad. This past week, by all objective accounts, I had a great week. Two comic books that I created got picked up to be developed as television shows. I was advised to expect an “offer” on another idea I have been working on as a television show. I actually got multiple offers on a new non-fiction book I am writing. And I pitched a non-scripted travel show to a bunch of TV networks, all of which received them very, very well. Boys and girls, forget a great week, that’s an f’ing awesome week…

But these days, no matter the achievements, I can’t really manage to get too up because deeply rooted in my consciousness is an agonizing despair over the unresolved fate of my friend Laura Ling and her colleague Euna Lee, now detained for over four months in the black box that is North Korea. To be honest, after a litany of blogs, articles, op-ed pieces, and the like, I am almost all out of words to express my sense of frustration, agony, anger, desperation, resentment, hopelessness and sorrow. Every time a new Google Alert pops up in my inbox, I pray it carries with it the miraculous news that Laura and Euna may have been released and are on their way back home. Last week, there was a blitz of optimism when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials formally requested amnesty for Laura and Euna and clearly expressed their regret for whatever crimes the two women may have committed while reporting on a news story back in March when they were initially arrested by N.K. border guards. News reports quickly followed that quiet backroom talks were underway focused on the girls’ imminent release. Hope knew no bounds…

And then…a flurry of almost incredulous remarks out of Thailand first by Secretary Clinton regarding the North Koreans, followed by their equally mocking remarks of her. Frankly -- considering the stakes at play here -- neither of the comments are worth repeating at the risk of inflaming more already most delicate sensibilities. In question, though, particularly in regards to our own highest appointed international diplomat Sec. Clinton, is how she could possibly go so far off-script. No matter what her personal feelings and frustrations are in dealing with the North Koreans, it’s incredulous to imagine how she may have thought her glib remarks could help matters.

In the wake of it all, for all of those who care deeply about Laura and Euna, and pray for their prompt return every waking and sleeping moment, there’s just more agony, anger, desperation, resentment, hopelessness and sorrow. No matter the combination, these are not healthy emotions, rather a toxic cocktail that undermines whatever other achievements and successes we encounter in our daily lives. Personally, I am searching for any reason these days to feel hopeful and optimistic regarding the situation. Apart from my own inability to come up with more words, pleas, or reasons that Laura and Euna should be sent home, I now find myself paralyzed by the fear that something I may say could be misinterpreted, trigger an outcry, fray emotions and as a consequence prolong Laura and Euna’s detainment.

So instead of saying anything else for now, I’d request anyone who reads this -- that hasn’t already -- sign the petition seeking the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee and their prompt return home to their families. Every single day, someone asks me if there is “anything the can do.” This is what you can do.

Here’s to a better week than last. Truthfully, only one thing matters these days.

Gotham Chopra regularly blogs at

For more information about Laura and Euna and how you can help please go to -

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