Freed Reporters Leave North Korea

Two American journalists previously sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea received a "special pardon" on Thursday and are now on their way home, reports CNN. Former President Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to negotiate with Kim Jong-Il, marking Kim’s first talk with a western politician since he suffered a stroke last year and the first presidential-level visit from America since Jimmy Carter met Kim Il-Sung in 1994 on behalf of Clinton. Euna Lee and Laura Ling "are en route to Los Angeles where Laura and Euna will be reunited with their families," said a Clinton spokesman.The women were arrested in March along the Chinese-North Korean border and were sentenced in June for illegal entry and engaging in “hostile acts.” Clinton’s relatively good relationship with Pyongyang could help mend foreign relations, according to analysts, and The Associated Press reports photos of Kim standing next to Clinton with “a broad smile.” Writer and North Korea expert Mike Chinoy said of the negotiations: “This is a very potentially rewarding trip. It could be a very significant opening and breaking this downward cycle of tension and recrimination between the U.S. and North Korea.”