Last March, two reporters for Current TV were caught and detained by the North Korean military after illegally crossing into the country from China as they reported on fleeing refugees. While some initial reports seemed optimistic that the pair — Chinese-American Laura Ling and Korean-American Euna Lee — would be released shortly in an act of good-will, that didn’t prove to be the case: both reporters were subsequently sentenced to twelve years in a North Korean labor camp for “hostile acts against the DPRK” and illegal entry into the country. Repeated calls by US officials to free the pair have seemed to fall on deaf ears.
But today, their story has a happy ending. Former President Bill Clinton has managed to convince North Korean President Kim Jong Il to pardon both reporters, only hours after arriving in North Korea during a surprise visit to the country. According to Reuters, Clinton is the highest-level US representative to visit the country in nearly ten years.
The families of the imprisoned women have issued the following statement on their official website:
The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee are overjoyed by the news of their pardon. We are so grateful to our government: President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department for their dedication to and hard work on behalf of American citizens.
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. We are counting the seconds to hold Laura and Euna in our arms.