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Laura Ling Recounts Nightmare in North Korea

March 17th, 2009, is a date that journalists Lisa Ling and Euna Lee will never forget. They were along the China/North Korea border, working on a documentary on North Korean defectors when they were taken prisoner by North Korean soldiers.

"I was struck by the butt of soldier's rifle and I blacked out as he was dragging me. When I came to I was in North Korea. Here I was in the most isolated country in the world. One that regards the United States as its arch enemy," Ling told CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford on Friday's "Washington Unplugged."

Ling continued: "I could not speak the language, did not know if I would ever see my family again, didn't know if I would live to see the next day."

After what could be described as a show trial, Ling was sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean prison camp.

"When I heard the words, '12 years of hard labor with no forgiveness and no appeal', that's when I really started to spiral into a depression," she said. "I started refusing meals, just thinking that I might not get to ever see my family or start a family..."

Her thoughts turned to her husband, Iain, and as she continues, "I actually tried to think of suitable women that I would want my husband to be with, to take care of him and that was so hard for me to do."

While Laura tried to maintain some sort of hope, her sister and fellow journalist Lisa Ling was in the U.S. frantically fighting for her sister's release. In the process Lisa learned the delicate art of international diplomacy.

"We've always been best friends and I knew that she was working relentlessly and would never give up," she said.

Lisa was able to get former President Bill Clinton and the White House involved. Mr. Clinton would eventually meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Il and secure Laura and Euna's release. As Lisa recounts, "President Clinton conveyed to me on the plane ride home that Kim Jong Il told him, 'you were the first person to call me when my father [Kim Il Sung] passed away even before my own allies. That is something I've always remembered and respected and I've always wanted to meet you.'"

It has been almost a year since Laura's release and continues to work as a journalist for Current TV, which is owned by former Vice President Al Gore. She is soon to expect her first child with her husband and plans on naming the baby after her biggest supporter and best friend, Lisa.

Check out Friday's "Washington Unplugged" above, which also features Kaylee Hartung with this week's Unplugged Under 40 with the founders of Series Summit DC10, where the leaders of today meet the brightest minds of tomorrow.

"Washington Unplugged,"'s exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.