Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine


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 Lisa Ling, with her North Korean handler
Lisa Ling Lisa Ling, with her North Korean handler, takes viewers inside North Korea for a special episode of Explorer, premiering Monday, March 5 on NGC.

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