Clinton brought home two American Journalists

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton went on a North Korea trip to bring two jailed American journalists back to the US to unite with their families waiting in California. The Obama’s White House considers it as a "private" trip and a separate event so
that it doesn’t juxtapose other issues, in particular the highly-sensitive nuclear
program in N.K.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee (a Chinese American and a Korean American) were detained along China-North Korean border in March for illegal entry into the country (North Korea, one of the darkest and most mysterious countries in the world, as put in an ABC news) while collecting research materials for report about human (N.K. refugees) trafficking from North Korea into China. They were sentenced to 12 years hard labor earlier this year. The two women journalists are employees for Current TV, a cable channel based in San Francisco, founded by former U.S. vice President Al Gore.

North Korea’s reclusive leader Kim Jong Il pardoned the two journalists after meeting with Bill Clinton. The N.K. state-controlled media described that the release signals its "humanitarian and peace-loving policy".

Photo taken from New York Times website (released by Xinhua News Agency). Laura Ling (left) and Euna Lee (in red) headed to a charted jet in a Pyongyang airport. The airplane later departed to a US military base in Japan and en route to Los Angeles.

Clinton is one of the highest-profiled Americans who ever visited North Korea which was listed as a terrorist nation the U.S. Department of State and was claimed as a member of the "Axis of evil" by Bush Administration after September 11 attacks (Jimmy Carter, then another former U.S. president went in 1994 to negotiate with North Koreans for its early nuclear crisis). The details of this surprising deal will come out when Clinton and the two journalists (on board now in a private jet) land in Los Angeles later today. In the mean time, another Clinton (Hillary), the U.S. Secretary of State, is on a diplomatic trip to Africa.

Photo adopted from a NYT website.

UPDATE: Clinton’s trip to North Korea is a symbolic gesture that was asked by North Korea. The U.S. Administration (White House + Hillary Clinton’s Department of State as well as some private channels) has already done the negotiation and made the deal before Clinton actually took the trip. The former U.S. president was assured that he would come back with the two women if ever he went. Nonetheless, his visit will surely bring long term impact to the frozen US-North Korea relationship. This Q&A session from Washington Post has some very interesting points w.r.t this matter.