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Gatekeepers: Sound Effect, Episode 192

The theme of this week’s Sound Effect is “Gatekeepers” — stories about people with power over who comes and goes. First, we hear what it’s like for a prison guard to be locked in with the inmates. Next, a story of escape and betrayal in one of the world’s most repressive countries. Then, the chilling words of a man ready to confront his fate — and his complicated journey to execution. Finally, we hear from a woman who once was tasked withhelping determine who was approved to resettle from Vietnam to the U.S.


Chris Hubert, a longtime guard at the now-defunct McNeil Island Corrections Center, talks about what it was like to hold the keys — and sometimes, be locked in along with the inmates.


It's miraculous that Grace Jo is alive. She owes her life to Seattle-area Pastor John Yoon. And so do hundreds of other North Korean refugees.

Yoon was a conductor on the North Korean underground railroad. He helped ferry groups of refugees from the border region deep into China, and then on to a neutral country, such as Thailand or Mongolia.

It was high stakes: informants, shady traffickers, allies who turned out to be enemies. And, for the defectors, there was constant danger of arrest and deportation.

Listen to this pastor’s story, and hear about his desire to continue to help today. 


The authority to take someone’s life is one of the most solemn — and controversial — powers a government has. Capital punishment was outlawed in Washington state in 2018. Before that, the law required that anyone sentenced to death be given a series of appeals and opportunities to challenge their fate. 

The assumption is that the condemned person wants to live. But what if he doesn’t? Who gets to decide when to give up those challenges and just accept a death sentence?

In 1989, Westley Allan Dodd put that question to the test. His crimes were shocking — and please be aware this story deals with disturbing subjects.


Alison Krupnick lives in Seattle. In the late 1980s, she was a young, ambitious foreign service worker for the U.S. State Department. 

Then Krupnick was thrown into a complicated and pretty grave situation. She was sent to Ho Chi Minh City to help deal with a humanitarian crisis.

In this story, she talks about her role in deciding who got to leave the war-torn country and start fresh in the United States.

Kari Plog is a former KNKX reporter who covered the people and systems in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties, with an emphasis on police accountability.