It was an emotional homecoming as TV host Lisa Ling’s sister Laura and fellow journalist Euna Lee arrived back in the United States Wednesday morning after former President Bill Clinton was able to negotiate their release from North Korea.
A plane carrying Ling, Lee and Clinton landed at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California at 5:50 am local time Wednesday.
Ling and Lee departed the plane once it pulled into a hangar. They were greeted by their families and former Vice-President Al Gore. Ling and Lee were both reporters for Gore’s Current TV at the time of their arrest for illegally crossing the border into North Korea.
Clinton – who accompanied Ling and Lee on the 12-hour flight — departed the plane a few minutes later.
Ling – fighting back tears – spoke for a few minutes at a podium. Said Ling: “ Thirty hours ago, Una Lee and I were prisoners in North Korea. We feared that at any moment, we could be sent to a hard labor camp and then suddenly we were told we were going to a meeting. We were taken to a location and when we walked through the doors we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton. We were shocked, but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end. And now, we stand here home and free. Una and I would like to express our deepest gratitude to President Clinton and his wonderful, amazing ,and not to mention super cool team.”
Ling and Lee were allowed to return to the United States from North Korea after Clinton was able to negotiate their release Tuesday. In June, the two were sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp after being convicted of entering the country illegally while reporting a story.