On March 17, American journalist Laura Ling was arrested by North Korean military on the Chinese border.
Now comes to the really troubling news: following her and friend Euna Lee's June 4 trial for alleged "hostile acts," Ling - whose sister Lisa is a talk show host - has been sentence to 12 years in a North Korea labor camp.
As first reported by CNN, the Korean Central News Agency says the women will be serving time "for the grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing."
The U.S. State Department has not given up hope of their return home, however. Said spokesman Ian Kelley in a statement:
"We are deeply concerned by the reported sentencing of the two American citizen journalists by North Korean authorities, and we are engaged through all possible channels to secure their release. We once again urge North Korea to grant the immediate release of the two American citizen journalists on humanitarian grounds."
Lisa Ling (pictured, on the left, with her sister above), meanwhile, has said she hopes this tragic situation can at least enable the U.S. and North Korea to move forward with diplomatic talks:
"We would champion the opportunity to have these girls be the catalyst for diplomacy. I think it could be really amazing. The problem right now is that our two countries don't have a diplomatic relationship and so communication has been really limited. We are trying to encourage our two countries to come together and if this is the reason why they do, then we'll take it.