But the two women sentenced to 12 years in prison still face awful conditions. Their whereabouts since last week remain unknown.
For reasons of geography, ethnicity, military inferiority, and ancient rivalries, they represent neither the immediate threat that is often portrayed nor the inevitable victors that the West fears.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee, nabbed along the Chinese-North Korean border, have become players in a much larger drama.
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A documentary critical of the North, filmed by a family member of one of the journalists, could complicate their case.