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Huff Post: Teenager Learns Harsh Realities of World Politics through Kidnapping of his Cousin

Laura Ling
Laura Ling with unidentified Person. Photo by Marioanima

Jackson Kao is just a freshman at Drew High School in San Francisco. When you’re young, family reunions are supposed to be about good food, good laughs and maybe a game of catch outside the house.

It’s not supposed to be about going hear your cousin speak about being held prisoner in North Korea.  But that’s what happen to Jackson, a story he tells in a blog for the Huffington Post.  He went to hear his cousin, journalist Laura Ling, talk about her experience being held captive by North Korea for five months in 2009.

One of things Jackson has wondered since that time was what was Laura clutching in her hand when she walked off the plane that carried her to her freedom after her release.

Turns out it was a bit of family. One of the “luxuries” Ling was allowed during her captivity was letters from home. Jackson wrote his share, sending his letters first to Laura’s mom who would send them to Swedish diplomats in North Korea(since the U.S. has no formal relations with North Korea). The Swedes would then deliver them to the foreign ministry office and from there they would eventually end up in Laura’s hands.

Jackson learned that Laura valued those letters more than anything else and even memorized them. I guess what else are you going to do being locked up except read over and over again the loving letters from those closest to you. Jackson would find out it was those letters from home that Laura carried off the plane with her.

You can read more of Jackson’s thoughts on Laura in the Huffington Post.



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