Freed Journalists Return From North Korea

Clinton on 'Solely Private Mission,' White House Insists

Last Updated 8/5 1:00 PM EST

Current TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee have returned to the US this morning, following their pardon yesterday by the North Korean government. The two had previously been sentenced to 12 years of “hard labor” for illegally crossing into the nation’s territory earlier this year.

The pardon had been long expected, as the North Korean government never actually sent the women to a labor camp but rather kept them in an official “guest house” in the capital city of Pyongyang. The two were kept under guard, but were allowed intermittant communications with the outside world.

Their release was secured following a visit yesterday by former President Bill Clinton, in which he met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The White House denied any role in the visit, saying Clinton was on a “solely private mission.”

But while the release of the two journalists thrilled their families, some condemned the former president over the visit. Former Ambassador John Bolton said the visit was tantamount to “negotiating with terrorists” and said the visit rewarded North Korea at a time when the Obama Administration is seeking to punish them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.