The reporters have been identified as Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who work for Current TV, the San Francisco-based news organization headed by former Vice President Al Gore. Ling's previous assignments have included covering Mexican drug wars, Kurdish insurgents in Turkey, and reclusive native tribes in South America.
Ling and Lee, North Korea claims, were "illegally intruding" from across the border with China when they were stopped and taken into custody Tuesday. The women had been working on a story about North Korean refugees in the border region. The women's guide and cameraman escaped North Korean border guards but were reportedly detained by Chinese officials.
Working to Free the ReportersThe U.S. government says the State Department is in talks with North Korea about freeing the detained women.
Dad Doug Ling told a local California news station, KCRA, that he sometimes worries his daughters' work is "too adventurous."
"I worry quite a bit. But I'm not losing any sleep over it," Ling said. "Because I'm more or less used to it."
On the Saturday before she was detained, Ling sent a message via Twitter from the Seoul airport, joking about the danger she faced and the pungent fermented-vegetable dish that is a mainstay of Korean cuisine.
"Hoping my kimchee breath will ward off all danger," she wrote.
But a minister who'd helped the journalists with their story on North Korean refugees said he warned the pair that reporting in the area was no joking matter.
"I told them very clearly not to go to the border because it's dangerous," the Rev. Chun Ki-won of the Seoul-based Durihana Mission told The Associated Press.