Laura Ling & Euna Lee pardoned after 4.5 months in North Korean prison

North Korea Pardons Detained U.S. Journalists Laura Ling And Euna Lee
Yesterday, former President Bill “Bubba” Clinton went to North Korea on a very special mission. Many theorized Tuesday morning that Bubba wouldn’t fly off to that country without something big being planned and negotiated beforehand. Turns out, they were right. After a three-and-a-half hour “negotiation” (in what amounted to a series of photo ops and North Korean attempts at propaganda), Bubba got the two American journalists out of their “hard labor” jail sentence/detention through a pardon by Kim Jong Il. Back in March, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, correspondents for Al Gore’s Current TV, were caught crossing over the North Korean border, and in June, were sentenced to 12 years hard labor. Their release became one of the many terse subjects in back-door negotiations between North Korea and America, and I’m personally surprised that it took so little to get these women out. Sources are claiming that the talks were “exhaustive”, but Bubba left North Korea within hours, with Laura and Euna in tow:

Laura Ling and Euna Lee were headed to Los Angeles from North Korea. For their families, their arrival couldn’t come soon enough.

“We are counting the seconds to hold Laura and Euna in our arms,” the relatives of the American journalists say in a statement.

Ling, 32, and Lee, 36, who work for former Vice President Al Gore’s Current TV, were released from custody Tuesday – pardoned, the North Korean media said, the same day that former President Bill Clinton met with them and with the country’s leader Kim Jong II.

“The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee are overjoyed by the news of their pardon,” says the statement. “We especially want to thank President Bill Clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and Vice President Al Gore for his tireless efforts to bring Laura and Euna home. We must also thank all the people who have supported our families through this ordeal, it has meant the world to us.”

Gore, who had remained quiet during the ordeal, said on his Twitter page, “We are overjoyed by Laura and Euna’s safe return.” The families also thanked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had engaged in diplomatic efforts.

In an email to the journalists’ colleagues, Current TV co-founder Joel Hyatt called the pair “extraordinary women who have shown remarkable courage and initiative” and said their ordeal will not have been in vain.

“To Laura and Euna, we promise this: Your courage and passion will be honored by Current’s continued commitment to telling the stories that no one else will tell,” Hyatt wrote. “We owe you no less. Celebrate!”

[From People]

Well, I’m glad that the women were released, I’m sure their families are overjoyed. I’m also impressed with Bubba’s skill in either/both the negotiations and the staging of the North Korean visit. Officially, Bubba was acting alone, “after the women’s families asked him to travel to the communist country and seek their release, a senior administration official said Tuesday.” But wink, wink, nod, of course Bubba went with the express permission of his wife, the secretary of state, and the current president. CNN is even reporting that Bubba offered an apology to Kim Jong Il, but the apology was not on behalf of America, or the current administration. Hopefully, this incident will help further negotiations about larger subjects, like nuclear war.

North Korea Pardons Detained U.S. Journalists Laura Ling And Euna Lee

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40 Responses to “Laura Ling & Euna Lee pardoned after 4.5 months in North Korean prison”

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  1. shutUpAndWrite says:

    I’m shocked that Al Gore was so quiet-

  2. Bill Hicks is God says:

    Yeah well that’s what happens when you go traipsing over the border of a totalitarian hermit nation ruled by a psychotic midget.

    Actually, Jong-Il only came around and relented when Clinton gifted him with a tiny pair of tap shoes and Texas mickey of hair gel.

  3. faith says:

    this is great…im glad theyre home..

  4. Cinderella says:

    Glad it all worked out. That could have been ugly.

  5. Annie says:

    🙂 I read about this yesterday. Was very glad then and am still glad now.

  6. jessica says:

    I think they should have let the reporters do their time. Countries have laws for a reason. If someone breaks the law in the U.S. they aren’t pardoned. The only reason they were let out was because of their connections. Lisa ling had connections with clinton through al gore. She also had a connection to obama through oprah who she does special segments for. If it had been any other person they would still be there. In my opinion you break the law you do the time. I don’t think think that they were so stupid not to know that they were crossing over into north korean territory. No one has said anything about the hikers who crossed into another terrorist country recently and that’s how it’s going to stay because they DON’T have famous relatives.

  7. Pole says:

    I miss Bill Clinton.

  8. valupack says:

    Jessica- people get pardoned in the US all the time. When people cross the border illegally here, they get a job. They aren’t sentenced to hard labor prison camps. Do not understand why they would risk going over there though. Glad Bubba came to their rescue!

  9. aquarake says:

    @valupack: Illegal immigrants here are not ‘pardoned’ and rewarded with jobs. They live under the radar, and they have to make money. There’s a huge difference.

  10. Sudini says:

    Jessica – to have “let the reporters do their time” would have been to sentence them to death, most likely. There’ve been interviews since this began with people (the very few people) who managed to escape some of these North Korean labor camps. They said the conditions are so torturous, most people don’t survive the first year. The punishment does not fit the crime in these countries. It exceeds it and is one of the many reason countries like North Korea are called out for human rights issues.

    There is something to the fact that these women had more connections than the average Joe – it can definitely seem unfair in certain instances. But that shouldn’t take away from the fact that no one (short of maybe a serial rapist or murderer) should have to endure such inhumane conditions.

  11. aquarake says:

    @Sudini: What was the point in going into DPRK then? There is coverage out there, and people know that DPRK is a hellhole. Were they going into the country expecting the worst and preparing for it? After reading some of their bios, I’d probably say yes.

    The punishment may not fit the crime, but its still their law, and they, being batshit insane that they are, are fully in the right to enforce the law.

    And I find it interesting that you’re using very general western notions of morality and law to say that their treatment is unfair, but throw them away for criminals.

  12. fizXgirl314 says:

    aquarake, the point being that illegal immigrants aren’t sentenced to hard labor in prison camps… you and your black heart need to stfu…

    you’re acting like you don’t understand what reporters do, they put themselves at risk for information. you know those people who are running toward a tornado or toward a fire when everyone is running away… yeah those are called reporters… idiot.

  13. Annie says:


    Undocumented workers.

    And anyway, why should they be punished for wanting to give better lives to themselves and their families?

    Frankly. I think it’s ridiculous there are such harsh border laws period. As if California isn’t pretty much New New Mexico.

    But of course, the issue here is N.Korea and frankly, as Americans, aren’t we supposed to be about standing up against UNFAIR laws? 12 years hard labor for crossing a border isn’t a “culture” thing. It’s the product of a tiny little man on a power trip.

    Asian culture is about peace, respect and enlightenment (among other things, but we won’t go into it).

  14. dubdub2000 says:


    Reporters do indeed put themselves at risk and therefore should suffer the consequences when it goes wrong. If a private citizen had made the same “mistake” he/she would still be in jail. And that’s what I have a problem with.

    I agree with Aquarake, Bill Hicks and Jessica: westerners (let alone western journalists) are NOT seen as illigel immigrants in Northern Korea but as spies and terrorists, just like various contingencies of population have been seen as such over the years in the US depending on the era(the Janapese, Communists, Russians, Chinese, Arabs, Muslims, etc. all had a turn at being the black sheeps of humanity according to History seen from a US point of view and btw they werent sent home with a carebear and a box of chocolates, ok? They were sent to interment camps, secret prisons and Guantanamo often with no proof whatsover of their wrongdoing, let’s call a spade a spade. Alright?).
    So if one ends up in North Korea decides to not follow the local law then one should have to accept the punishment if caught. Otherwise, stay away if you dont have the cojones for your job.

    Now you just wait to see those 2 whiney b*tches on their media tour and them writing their memoire about their “harrowing” 5 months in captivity (they certainly look in much better shape than the folks let go from Guantanamo…) How long do you think it’s going to take that idiotic one who’s the mother of a 4 year old child to be parading all over tv like she actually cares about her child more than about the Pulitzer.

  15. tamikla says:

    No one is immune to Bill’s charm! Not even frenemies of ours. That guy has got some Mojo! 🙂

  16. fizXgirl314 says:

    dubdub you have a problem with someone not serving hard labor when there’s a way we can get them out? does it matter HOW they got there or who they are or how we can save them? should we just turn our backs on anyone just because we can’t save everyone?

    besides, what journalists do is a PUBLIC SERVICE, not a crime, and yes, we should offer them protection if we can…

  17. Gigohead says:

    I hope the reporter with the young child will stay home and take care of her kid as opposed to reporting about conditions in North Korea. If faced with a choice, my kid comes first, I would have let Ling cross on her own. I’m sorry, but I got my kid to worry about back home. She had no right crossing anyway. I’m glad she’s back home and with her daughter.

  18. BlueSkies says:

    Now they really have a story. But FAIL! In the shadow of the older sibling w/dumb friend never generates interest too much.

  19. valupack says:

    Aquarake-I didn’t say illegals were pardoned, I said that some people in the US do get pardoned when they break the law. Illegal border crossers do not get sentenced to hard labor camps in the US-they come here to work because their families desperately need the money

  20. Musey says:

    “Asian culture is about peace, respect and enlightenment (among other things, but we won’t go into it).”

    Annie, I was totally with your comment up until there. It’s offensive to say there’s such a thing as one homogeneous ‘Asian culture,’ given how many diverse countries and cultures Asia is made up of, and even more offensive to try to distill all those cultures down to a few words.

    I completely agree, however, that it’s going way too far to suggest that these women deserved to be sentenced to torture and death for a border crossing. There are cultural differences–for example, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask non-Muslim women traveling in Muslim countries to cover their hair, though I don’t think they should be *punished* for not doing so–and then there are ridiculous laws set by dangerous tyrants.

    I believe that America often does go much too far in disregarding other countries’ sovereignty, but this is one of the few cases in which I think it was justified. I know it’s a slippery slope, though.

  21. BlueSkies says:

    Asian culture is about peace, respect and enlightenment (among other things, but we won’t go into it).

    Come on, child. You never have lived over there & you are making a generalization about those religions & the tats your friends get put on their bodies of Asian characters. You don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Women have a hard time everywhere over there. Worse than here. You are obviously very young, untraveled & uneducated. Stick to what you know. Sorry if seems offensive but wake up.

  22. BlueSkies says:

    I’ll take an order of Sum Dum Kid to go with my noodles. Shay-Shay.

  23. Annie says:


    Uneducated? Untraveled? About MY OWN HERITAGE? Seriously?

    I wasn’t trying to pigeonhole, I was merely pointing out that saying North Korean culture is about sending someone to a HARD LABOR CAMP FOR 12 years for border crossing is NOT accurate. I was honestly just trying to dumb it down for people who clearly are misguided in thinking that it’s a part of a country’s culture to wish for ENSLAVEMENT. When it’s not. In my experience, a person who believes that kind of stuff would probably be the same kind of idiot who go up to me and say “Can you teach me how to speak Asian?”

    I don’t think there IS a such a thing as a homogeneous Asian culture, especially considering that we all speak a different language, we all participate in different events, different holidays, different food, customs, dress. etc etc. etc.

    But I won’t change my opinion that what we all have in common are the things I listed. You’re honestly going to disagree with that?

    You don’t even know me, so how about you “wake up”? I’m not talking about the craptastic Tats the little teeny boppers love to get because it’s the “in” thing and then they end up getting something like “Weird”. Besides, those Kenji characters are only Japanese, not Asian.

    P.s. I’m Vietnamese and damn proud and clearly have a better understanding of MY culture than you do. Thanks.

  24. Annie says:

    Oh and how the fuck is

    I’ll take an order of Sum Dum Kid to go with my noodles. Shay-Shay

    Not offensive?

    You’re waxing poetic about MY lack of knowledge and my “untraveled” ways and you think something like THAT is funny?clever?

    ROFL. Oh the irony.

  25. Eden says:

    I’m happy they are safe and back with their families. HOWEVER, they put themselves at risk and I hope they learned a valuable lesson.

  26. BlueSkies says:

    It was. So sorry but spare us the grass/weed hopper shit in your original post.

  27. BlueSkies says:

    BTW, I’ve LIVED in Japan & China. Bet you haven’t. You only know what you hear second hand. Think about it. A 2 week vacation doesn’t count.

  28. rop says:

    “No one is immune to Bill’s charm! Not even frenemies of ours. That guy has got some Mojo!” (Tamikla)

    I’ve always said he is a great public speaker. He may be a fruit loop but if he was able to talk a schizo out of punishing these two girls.

    Has anyone ever thought that part of the publicity was on the Korean part also? Anyone can sit here and say “that’s the law in Korea” but if it was one of my (or yours) siblings/family members, I would be calling anyone and everyone just like their families did. What a compassionate country we live in!?

  29. boomchakaboom says:

    I’m dumbfounded at the comments like “do the crime, do the time”, etc. Jesus. Are you people, um, f**king CRAZY? You’re sure as hell assholes without a shred of compassion or empathy. You probably text while driving in states where it’s banned – and if that is ever punishable by some hard time I hope each of you get a piece of it and nobody comes to your defense. Please don’t say it if you go to church or anything like that – religion is already taking a beating in this country, due largely to the most visible figures of “Christianity” being the most viciously intolerant motherf***ers on the planet (and I place quotes around Christianity to denote my firm belief that the word has been hijacked by lunatics much like “Muslim” has been ravaged by terrorists). You sound so snotty and incredibly unpleasant.

  30. BoogeyBoogey says:

    I cannot believe the US made a diplomatic deal with the Devil to get these stupid bit¢hes who knowingly and deliberately entered a forbidden zone thinking they’d get a scoop and an expose´ just because one of them looked like the locals.

    They knew what they were doing, and if it weren’t two women and a celebrity’s sister, they’d still be there stewing in their home-brewed juices, as well they should.

    Hey, lady, you missed your four year old? DON’T LEAVE HER TO GO INTO A DANGER ZONE.
    They’ve set women and responsible journalism back decades. Wait, what am I saying, there haven’t been any responsible journalists in years.

  31. fizXgirl314 says:

    boogey, pipe down… if a man did it, they’d say he were brave… did anyone claim that daniel pearl was being irresponsible when he got beheaded? unfortunately, journalism comes with some intense risks… that doens’t mean they don’t deserve the protection of their homeland.

    they don’t deserve to be called “stupid bitches” and for you to undermine the work that they do and the risks that they take… they do this so that we the public can get a glimpse into people’s lives around the world and quite frankly they are heroic. it’s an important and risky job…

  32. Trashaddict says:

    Annie, Musey and Blueskies: I think Asian culture has one thing down really well. Yin and Yang. Some good and some bad, balance of opposing forces (I know that’s really simplifying it). Neither Asian nor Western culture is all good or all bad.
    I hope no one would wish ill to these two women and I’m glad they’re out. Sending Bill Clinton was a very face-saving way of accomplishing it. Bravo.

  33. Bill Hicks is God says:

    Uh, Annie? It’s “kanji.”

    The noodle thing was funny,lighten up.

    And everybody let’s just stop saying “Asian” and be specific: There’s Central Asian, East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian.

    Just saying ‘Asian’ doesn’t tell me doodly-squat. ‘Oriental’ does – what the fahk ever happened to that one? Is that politically incorrect now too?

  34. Annie says:

    Yes, it is offensive.

    Because I’m not a goddamn rug. 🙂

    And because it’s a completely euro-centric term.

    And the noodle thing wasn’t funny. It’s childish and ignorant to assume that’s what “asian” sounds like.

    And specific isn’t “central asian, east asian” etc etc. Specific would be giving every damn fucking country, which I didn’t think was necessary to get into, but apparently it is.

    And oh, ok, so since I grew up in this culture and mindset, but you lived in Japan and China as a ? (I will not make assumptions on your place of origin)

    You’re suddenly this big expert?

    Reminds me of the white kids in the nikkei clubs in high school.

  35. Bill Hicks is God says:

    The air must be mighty thin up there on your high horse because clearly you are deluded: Central/east/south etc Asian is a hell of a lot more ‘specific’ than just Asian.

    That ‘oriental’ is offensive is laughable. Not my fault you equate it with something that’s walked on. That’s your baggage hon, not mine.

  36. Pam says:

    I miss Bill Clinton too!

  37. daisy424 says:

    Take a chill pill Annie.

    And cut the PC crap with ‘Undocumented Workers’.
    If a person crosses a border without proper papers, they are breaking the law = ILLEGAL.

  38. Annie says:

    more specific yes, and that’s all relative. If we were being specific, specific, we’d use every country.

    If you’re unaware of the negative connotations associated with “oriental” that’s your ignorance, not mine. The term is pejorative in nature.

    For many Asian-Americans who are aware of the historical reference, it’s considered our N word. It was a term that was sneered at many individuals in the past and used to clump us all together and suggest that we are less than equal to Europeans, since they are the center.

    But hey, if it’s ok to refer to a person as Oriental, can I also refer to someone as Occidental?

    And, an act is illegal, not a person. By using the word “illegal” before “immigrant” you are using it as an adjective to describe the noun, which is in this case, a person. Like “re ball, the ball is re. But an immigrant is not illegal, just the act by which they chose to enter the country is. But I can’t expect everyone to understand that.

    It’s interesting to me that everyone’s jumping down MY throat when there were comments saying that two women deserve to be sentenced to hard labor, and that cruel acts like that is inherent to that culture and there are comments that clearly mock another country’s language, or what they perceive to be the language.

  39. aquarake says:

    “you’re acting like you don’t understand what reporters do, they put themselves at risk for information. you know those people who are running toward a tornado or toward a fire when everyone is running away… yeah those are called reporters… idiot. ”

    You could have picked someone who goes into other remote/secluded 3rd world nations, and you picked tornado chasers? That’s an example of rash/careless actions that not only put unnecessary lives in danger, but also property damage. Google Chuck Henry for an example of where putting your life on the line is not necessary, nor heroic. Someone saying “There is a fire in Ventura County” is news enough. Weather charts of tornadoes are news enough.

    But hey, anything for ratings right?

    As for ‘deserving’ the punishment, no its not justified by a western sense of morality and law. But DPRK is a sovereign nation, and they are free to interpret their laws their own way. It was tresspassing and espionge to them.

    Besides, it really didn’t seem like they were at all prepared for the worst (about a 4 year old daughter wondering why mommy’s taking so long on her business trip leads me to think that it was ill prepared, or a false sense of confidence). And their presence in DPRK certainly didn’t help anyone, least of all DPRK/US relations.

  40. Jenn says:

    Personally, I think this is unfair.
    I believe that they should be punished for their trespassing.
    Bytheway, for those argue that they did not trespass they did. They even stated that they have trespassed.
    Shouldn’t be punished,somehow?
    The punishment given by North Korea was harsh, but if that was what international countries agreed when internation laws were established, then thats what they need to follow.