Katie Couric's Notebook: North Korea Convicts Journalists

(AP Photo/Yonhap)
It sounds like the opening scene of a political thriller. Two young journalists arrested in North Korea and charged with "hostile acts."

But this is NO movie for Laura Ling or Euna Lee. They were on assignment, covering a story near China's border with North Korea and reportedly had no intention of crossing it.

Now they've been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor, with no chance for an appeal. Their only hope for release is through diplomatic negotiations. And analysts believe North Korea will use the women as a bargaining chip during negotiations about their nuclear ambitions.

The White House has said these are two separate issues. It's North Korea's humanitarian obligation to release these women -- unharmed.

Unfortunately, that country's track record on human rights is abysmal and sanctions against North Korea have left them unmoved and led to mass starvation.

Convincing them to do the right thing will require walking a fine line. A line North Korea has crossed -- NOT two American journalists.