Laura Ling visits Valley, inspires young girls

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- She's a passionate journalist who's traveled all over the world covering stories on human rights.

On Thursday, Laura Ling made a stop in the Valley to speak about her cause, and to talk more about the path that led her here. She also shares more about her story of imprisonment in North Korea.

Ling was a keynote speaker at a luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore put on by the Florence Crittenton Organization. The organization helps at-risk girls with education, counseling and job training.

"This is such a great organization," Ling said. "They help 1,000 girls in the Phoenix, Ariz., region, and they're a real inspiration to me."

Ling talked about her experiences, and how she maintained hope and positivity in her life, especially when she was locked up in North Korea. Ling and fellow journalist Euna Lee were detained in North Korea after they illegally crossed into North Korea from the People's Republic of China without a visa. They were tried and convicted, then months later, were pardoned after former U.S. President Bill Clinton flew to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-il.

When asked how she held on to hope during such dark times, Ling said, "There were times when I didn't. It's easy to lose hope. But I tried as much as I could to maintain hope and a lot of people that gave me that inspiration were the people I met along the way. The women who were being trafficked from North Korea. Those brave people. People like these girls here who are being serviced by the Florence Crittenton Organization. They really gave me a lot of hope."

Although Ling continues  working to inspire others, she says that now she considers it her part-time job. "My other job is also being a mom!" she said. "I have a 2-1/2-year-old, so I like to say I'm a part-time worker now these days."

Ling has a show on the E! Network called "E! Investigates," which explores issues that affect young Americans. She's also the the sister of Lisa Ling, who is a special correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show, National Geographic Explorer, and CNN.