Luis Ramirez is one of VOA's most intrepid and enterprising correspondents. The latest evidence of his talent is a four-part multi-media series on the thousands of North Koreans who each year risk their lives to escape poverty and oppression by fleeing their country.
Ramirez followed the trail of these refugees, traveling from China's border with North Korea to Thailand where they wait to take their final steps to freedom in South Korea or the United States.
In the first of a four-part series, he looks at the defectors' treacherous and painful journey. In part two, he reports on how China has tightened its efforts to keep these North Korean refugees out, apparently to avoid being embarrassed over the issue during the coming Olympic games in Beijing.
In the third segment, Ramirez reports that Thailand's policy of not deporting refugees has resulted in a growing number of North Koreans making Thailand a final stop in their trek to freedom. In the conclusion, he reports that for North Korean refugees, entering freer countries is like encountering a new universe but while freedom brings exhilaration, there is also fear of being suddenly on their own.
This series took a year of reporting and more than six weeks of painstaking production work. It’s well worth a look!
Ramirez is currently serving as VOA’s Southeast Asia correspondent in Bangkok after a stint as VOA’s Beijing bureau chief. He began his overseas reporting career as VOA’s West Africa correspondent in Abidjan. Ramirez came to VOA in 1999 after working for a number of years as a reporter for an all-news radio station in his hometown of Los Angeles, California.
Ramirez isn’t alone among VOA correspondents in producing excellent material. Take a look at our five-part series on the problems and challenges posed internationally by so-called Failed States.
You’ll find other Special Reports, new and old, on our special webpage. Well worth visiting if you haven’t been there already.