August 4th, 2009
03:54 PM ET

Kim Jong Il pardons and releases 2 U.S. journalists

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/04/nkorea.clinton/art.clinton.07.nk.jpg caption="President Clinton met Tuesday with North Korea leader Kim Jong Il."]


North Korean President Kim Jong Il has pardoned and ordered the release of two U.S. journalists, state-run news agency KCNA said Wednesday.

The announcement came after former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with top North Korean officials in Pyongyang to appeal for the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been arrested while reporting from the border between North Korea and China.

"Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it," the news agency reported. "Clinton courteously conveyed to Kim Jong Il an earnest request of the U.S. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view.

"The meetings had candid and in-depth discussions on the pending issues between the DPRK and the U.S. in a sincere atmosphere and reached a consensus of views on seeking a negotiated settlement of them."

The report said Clinton then conveyed a message from President Obama "expressing profound thanks for this and reflecting views on ways of improving the relations between the two countries."

It added, "The measure taken to release the American journalists is a manifestation of the DPRK's humanitarian and peace-loving policy.

"The DPRK visit of Clinton and his party will contribute to deepening the understanding between the DPRK and the U.S. and building the bilateral confidence."

DPRK is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the nation's official name.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • North Korea
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. joe

    While this is wonderful, was this not a job for Hillary?

    August 5, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  2. Carole McArthur

    We all know the work this took to pull of but are we so arrogant to ignore the fact the North Korea, Kim Jong Il made this happen too?

    What ugly, rude, thankless Americans' we are.

    I am ashamed we did not thank the Leader of North Korea, no mater what the politics is!

    August 4, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    Good for Bill Clinton – he got our people out and hopefully laid the groundwork for official talks with North Korea, which we really can't afford to pass up. I sincerely hope Bill Clinton doesn't get the "heck out of Dodge" – his positive contributions nationwide and worldwide would be greatly missed.

    August 4, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  4. Lily

    America saves the day!

    August 4, 2009 at 8:30 pm |
  5. carol kesling


    bless president bill clinton !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FIRST CLASS ALL THE WAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you are in my prayers, thankyou,thankyou, thankyou allwayssssssss !!!!!!!! p.s. bill clinton does rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 4, 2009 at 7:57 pm |
  6. Elizabeth Sharkov

    Hads off to the American Diplomacy and to the hero of the day – ExPresident Bill Clinton. I join PS above – "Bill Clinton Rocks"!
    So does Hillary Clinton!
    And President Obama – Happy Birthday Mr. President – what a good present – to you, to your AAdministration and to every American today!

    August 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  7. kder502007

    Oh, and thanks Bill!! I've loved you forever. =)

    August 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  8. kder502007

    Awesome news! Not keen on the "hostile acts" language either, but if it were my kid? Yeah.

    August 4, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  9. Patty A Banks palmdale, Ca.

    'Hoslile acts?'....oh well, we thank you Mr Clinton for your timely intervention & apologies, now please hurry up & get the heck out of dodge!

    August 4, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  10. Ruby Coria LA., CA.

    Hat's off to all who where involved in making this happen! The White House along with the Clinton's did a smooth job on this one! I feel like celebrating with the Family. I'm super happy for their family's!
    Bill's next stop: Iran. Way to go Bill!

    August 4, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  11. PS

    BILL CLINTON ROCKS! Way to go!

    August 4, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  12. george

    look what happen in some part of the world if you cross the border without permission in all probability you do to jail ,but look in are country were we have people crossing the border day and night with drugs and committing crimes ,if you ask any of are citizens they well say that we have a failed system...30 million illegals maybe more and soon they well be given a stay by are elected officials...and soon we have to learn and speak spanish.(America is broken country)

    August 4, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  13. Anthony

    That's great news. Bill Clinton is the hero of the day.

    August 4, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  14. David Echeverry

    How is it that every time an American gets in trouble abroad, high ranking government officials jump in to the rescue seeking amnesties even if the person has broken the laws of a sovereign nation?

    Why is it that the government does not grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who have done the same, and have done it only trying to have a better life for themselves and their families?

    Everybody deserves the same treatment regardless of the legal system they are on.

    August 4, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  15. Teresa, OH

    I think we all knew these ladies werent going to spend much time in prison. Even if they did knowingly break the law.

    August 4, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  16. ballardpresents

    President Clinton actually accomplished something! This is incredible! Sarcasm aside I'm glad to hear the journalists will be coming home.

    August 4, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  17. MaryAnn

    Now the these journalists are free, the US needs to take their passports away from them. I believe they will do this again and expect their government to bail them out AGAIN. Once is enough. They need to stay in the country do their work here.

    August 4, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  18. Lilibeth

    I have been praying for this moment. Thank you, Pres. Clinton, for going to North Korea to help release these women. I'm here at work, crying tears of joy. I'm crying, but I don't care if people see me. What a great day this is! God Bless You, Bill!

    Edmonds, Washington

    August 4, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  19. Cindy

    This deal was already done long before Bill Clinton set foot in N. Korea. The U.S. may not want to openly admit it because we supposedly don't work with terrorists or thugs yet we did. I'm betting we gave them money and they got their photo op time with a big honcho from the U.S.

    Hopefully the two journalists will get to spend some quality time with their families before the media pounces on them and hounds them to death.


    August 4, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  20. Nosakhare Ekhator

    This is the fruit of diplomatic approach to solving problems, no soul was lost and no apology made. If you know how to approach people, you win their souls and supports. Thanks you Presidents Clinton and Obama. I hope you will continue to make this world a better place for us and our future children.

    August 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  21. Melissa

    Unbelievable. The Clintons are just incredible. I wish we could vote them back into power. Bill managed to solve a many months old problem in only hours and his wife is nearly as good.

    I like the man alot (personal issues during his Presidency aside). Obama needs to start consulting him on how to do all this, even if he just does it in secret. It is incredible what Bill Clinton has managed to accomplish. I’d even say he’s one of the great leaders of the US.

    August 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm |