Reporters on the Job

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: When correspondent Robert Marquand first met German physician and activist Norbert Vollertsen in Seoul (page 1), he had to follow some unusual directions: Go to this subway stop. Go to the building across from the stop. Look for us behind that building.

What Bob found when he arrived was "an extremely engaging guy with a mop of sandy hair" - and good reason to move cautiously. The activist has been thrust into the spotlight for his highly public advocacy for North Korean refugees - and he's been warned of possible kidnapping plots against him. "When he says, 'I live on the Internet,' he's not kidding," says Bob. "Only a very few people seem to know how to get a hold of him."

It's a big change for a man who fairly recently was living a low-profile life. But "he seems to handle the cloak-and-dagger thing OK," says Bob. Vollertsen's faith in his cause helps. "It would be easier if he just didn't say anything. Instead, he's out there championing people who don't really have anyone championing them."

GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE: Reporter Nicole Itano didn't know what to expect when she attended a predator auction in South Africa (page 7). Animal-rights activists were incensed, and there'd been a lot of bad publicity. "At first, it was tense. There were points where people were screaming at each other across a bale of hay," she says.

But the scene calmed down. "The farmers were frustrated, but mostly they were friendly and asked if we wanted to hold the lion," Nicole says. She opted to hold a baby jaguar, but did venture into a cage with some good-sized lions. The lions, she says, will lay their heads in their owners' laps. "That's how tame they are - they're not the ferocious lions you'd expect in a hunt. And that's what the activists say, that it's not very sporting."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor

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