The U.S. has struggled to keep its efforts freeing two captured journalists separate from its ongoing dispute over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. But since the women were sentenced to 12 years “reform” through hard labor on Monday, it’s expected the journalists will become pawns in the two countries’ conflict. Experts think journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling won’t be sent to the infamous Gulags—where an estimated 200,000 North Koreans are imprisoned in appalling conditions—since they would learn too much there about the ultrasecretive country’s penal system. The U.N. is currently negotiating sanctions against the country as it escalates its nuclear program. The White House says they are using "all possible channels" to free the women.