The BBC also noted Washington's response:
In a statement, the US State Department said: "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."
US Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton earlier described the charges against the two women as "baseless". She is thought to be considering sending an envoy to try to negotiate their release.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has lately toughened her call on North Korea to free the two women....
Washington believes that "the charges against these young women are absolutely without merit or foundation," Clinton said in an interview with ABC television over the weekend. Clinton admitted to sending a letter asking for their release and said she has received "responses."
North Korea's labor camps have a grisly reputation. The Financial Times reported, "Defectors have told harrowing tales of North Korea's gulags, where inmates are termed "tailless animals" and arbitrary execution is common." One North Korean defector who escaped from a gulag turned his experiences into fodder for a macabre musical, the paper reported.