Reporters on the Job

BREAKFAST OF CHECHENS: As journalists often find, the most humble people are often the most generous. While reporting today's story in southern Chechnya (page 1), the Monitor's Scott Peterson was struck by the hospitality of the Chechen family he stayed with. "Almost everything was home grown, but they held back nothing. We had eggs, pancakes, and spring onions dipped in salt for breakfast," he says. During his stay there, he never left the home. "I couldn't be seen by anyone. I could put my hosts at risk, if Russian troops found me there. And I might be at risk if other Chechens saw me - kidnapping of foreigners is not unusual."

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The Seoul Foreign Correspondents Club is located on the 18th floor of the press center building. It's a frequent venue for press conferences that reporter Michael Baker attends. But this week, when Michael went to hear human rights advocate Kim Sang-chul speak (page 7), he felt uncomfortable with the plush surroundings - and the menu. "It's hard to enjoy a four-course meal, with soup and steak, right through to dessert," says Michael, "when the subject of the day is the famine in North Korea," where as many as 2 million people have died since 1995.

RUSSIA'S "HIDDEN" PROBLEM: Reporter Fred Weir was struck by how little official attention the problem of Russia's sex trade (page 1) has received before now. But like 1 in 5 Russians, he did know someone involved. The girlfriend of a Canadian colleague had been caught in the trap. She was granted a visa to Japan under the pretense of going there as part of a "folk-dance group." She ended up as a stripper at a Japanese men's club. "In her case, I think she had some idea of why she was going," says Fred, "but she had no idea how draconian the situation would be. When she was deported back to Russia, the nightmare didn't end. The gang that sent her threatened her and her family, and extorted all the money she had made. She was left with nothing."

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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