OCCUPATION: Traveling the world as a correspondent for the Washington-based National Geographic Channel and Oprah.
WASHINGTON LIFE: What was your big break?
LISA LING: Auditioning for a nationally syndicated teen magazine show called "Scratch" at 16.
WL: Bravest moment?
LL: Talking about my sex life on "The View."
WL: Biggest fear?
LL: Having a child.
WL: Oprah versus Barbara?
LL: What a privilege to have been able to work with two of the most formidable women in media. I learned so much from them. Just being in their presence inspires me. Working for both, my job responsibilities have been very different, so my interactions are different as well.
WL: Chasing a story now?
LL: I’ve just returned from Ghana, where I was working on an absolutely amazing and tragic story about little boys forced to work on fishing boats.
WL: Greatest indulgence?
LL: I try to get a massage once a week, because I jog everyday and need to work out the plethora of knots that accumulate in my shoulders.
WL: Biggest accomplishment?
LL: Finishing the Boston Marathon was a pretty big accomplishment. I wore my deceased uncle’s number. It was his dream after his daughter Ali, my 13-year old cousin, died of liver cancer. He was preparing to run the marathon to raise money for pediatric cancer, when he collapsed and died of a heart attack two weeks before the marathon. He didn’t make it to the Boston Marathon. But I did; and wearing his number, we raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
WL: Would you run the Marine Corps Marathon?
LL: No, I won’t run another marathon. But I wouldn’t trade the feeling of completing the marathon I did run.
WL: Odd hobbies?
LL: Is Scrabble a hobby? I love to shop and read. Mostly though, I love my work.
WL: Favorite place to relax?
LL: Well, some might not consider this relaxing, but jogging relaxes me – and one of my favorite places to jog in the world is around the mall. You are surrounded by such history; it is amazing. And it is a good run too.
WL: Favorite D.C. event?
LL: When the cherry trees bloom.
WL: Advice for up and coming journalists?
LL: Read everything.
WL: Most challenging professional moment?
LL: When I was the only American in North Korea and had no way to communicate with anyone at home. Had I gotten seriously ill while there, no one would have ever known. If something c a t a s t ro p h i c h a d happened in the U.S., I would have had no ability to have known.
WL: What surprised you most about North Korea?
LL: That in this day and age of technology, an entire population can be so in the dark about the outside world.
WL: What were the people like?
LL: People were very friendly. I have never met people as patriotic as the North Koreans, but whether it was authentic or not, I couldn’t be sure.
WL: Why North Korea?
LL: I have always been fascinated by places about which little is reported. North Korea is the most elusive.
WL: You take a lot of risks – are you ever scared?
LL: Yes, certainly there are times when I’ve gotten scared on trips. But, I get scared when I get into taxis in New York too.
|| Lisa Ling, with her North Korean handler, takes viewers inside North Korea for a special episode of Explorer, premiering Monday, March 5 on NGC.