August 5th, 2009
09:53 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama applauds release of freed American journalists

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama applauded the release Wednesday of Euna Lee and Laura Ling - two American journalists who had been detained in North Korea since March.

"We are very pleased with the outcome," Obama said at the White House. Their release is a "source of happiness not only for the families (of the journalists) but for the entire country."

Obama thanked former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore for their roles in winning the release of Lee and Ling.

The two journalists were reunited with their families early Wednesday after Clinton secured their release in a brief trip to Pyongyang, North Korea's capital.

The aircraft transporting Lee, Ling, and Clinton to the United States touched down shortly before 6 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) amid tight security at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, just outside Los Angeles.

Listen: CNN's Ed Henry explains the administration's role in the journalists' return:


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. Ken in Gainesville

    The only people not applauding this is a small group of Republicans who would rather have the women in jail for 12 years than talk to the Korean looney. I actually read an opinion piece to this effect! What planet are you on? Do you really hate Democrats and our President so much that you can't give any credit? Your world of anger is emotionally draining and self defeating. It must be terribly difficult to be so unhappy all the time and have so much anger.

    August 5, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  2. not a Jackson or a Palin fan

    Well that's all fine and dandy but what about Sarah Palin's impending divorce? That's important too, isn't it?

    August 5, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. I believe in ceiling cat

    I think we can all agree that the safe return of the two journalists is a good thing whether or not you agree with the means by which they were guaranteed their freedom (ie apologies from the US government)

    I hope all goes well for them now that they're home.

    August 5, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  4. Clint Lynnwood Wa.

    Good job, Thank you.

    August 5, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  5. EC

    President Obama is proving to be a GREAT President. He stood behind the scenes by allowing President Clinton to travel to North Korea to negotiate these women's freedom. I commend President Obama, he's NOT stuck on EGO and is all about diplomacy and negotiations. This is WHY Republicans are becoming more and more DESPERATE in their destructive obstructionist tactics.

    Republicans consistently DON'T DO NOTHING, DON'T KNOW NOTHING, DON'T CARE ABOUT "COUNTRY FIRST".

    President Clinton and President Gore are a clear sign that Democrats STEP UP when the need arises, where Republicans continue to DO NOTHING but incite FEAR and RACIAL MOBS reeking chaos throughout the country. This is what Republicans do to DIVERT attention that they have NO SOLUTIONS and NO ANSWERS on how to fix anything in this country!!!

    August 5, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Rick

    Maybe Obama can learn some things from Bill – like how to run something bigger than a household budget.

    August 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. Nancy - Houston

    Hey, if you want a job done right, go to Al Gore and then have him send our "white knight," Pres. Bill Clinton. Seriously, our present president most likely had more to do with it than anyone. I love happy endings and am thrilled to see the journalists reunited with their families. Kudos to everyone involved for a GREAT JOB!!!

    August 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. TCM

    How many billions did you give to North Korea, Barry?

    August 5, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. frank c,

    Make it law, that when you go to a contry you dont belong. you are on your own. look at what the tax money it cost. now they will write a book and make millions. what a joke. if they do write a book , charge them for the bill.

    August 5, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. Susan

    The GOP would have let them rot.

    August 5, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  11. Rob

    would have never happened had Bush been in the White House.

    August 5, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. john hanks

    HI ; with all the thanks being handed out by everyone , I noticed that not one freed journelist or past / present politician thanked KIM JONG 2 who might also be watching the same broadcast, It was his option and probally his idea, someone of authourity should thank him and the two journalist who violated the border should thank him, as pointed out we have a lot of people in our jails for the same crime

    August 5, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. S Callahan

    People underestimate the Power of God, all that took place had the perfect elements....and former President Bill Clinton allowed God to use him through this journey...Well Done Bill!

    For Laur Ling and Emma Lee...don't underestimate the Power of Prayer for there were many of us, many, many...who have kept you faithfully in prayer over the last five ish months...God is your protector.

    for North Korean authorities..you did well to put your pride aside and unite these girls back to their loving families. Well done.

    August 5, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. No Drama Obama

    I applaud the NDOA .... the No-Drama-Obama-Administration .... for this.

    1.) They kept this quiet. I like the fact there were no leaks and you didn't have some obnoxious tabloid journalist blowing it.

    2.) They kept this decoupled from the business of the nation. As much as we care for the humanity of our people, we won't let people be elevated to bargining chips in a nuclear weapons discussion.

    3.) The office of the Presidency does not have it's hands all over this. North Korea may be able to fool it's people and claim that the world and America was showing them respect. The fact is we are more disdainful of them than ever before.

    4.) Finally, the citizens are home.

    August 5, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  15. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Now, let's send Bill to Iran to get the other wayward Americans. From now on to ge a passport, you should be required to pass a geography test, then these people wouldn't "accidentally" enter country's they aren't supposed to.

    August 5, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  16. Really?

    While it is great to have these women return home and safe, they 1. broke the law of another country, 2. lied about it. Before everyone enters their comments about how the penalty was too harsh, IT IS ANOTHER COUNTRY, not America. It is Korea's law! How about someone from Korea come to usa and break one of our laws and then tell us our laws are too harsh? Once again, America plays favorites with those who have social status and money. Let's see how the 3 who hiked in Iran will be handled. Same thing, mistakenly crossed the boarder? This has just become a copy-cat way way to obtain notoriety. What is sad is that Ling/Lee are treated as heros, when they are no more than law-breakers who act as if their parents did not teach them to ask permission of their neighbor before going into their backyard!

    August 5, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. Obama Supporter

    I appreciate what Bill Clinton and Al Gore did to free the journalist in N. Korea...its shows great respect and honor on behalf of both countries. Hillary Clinton continues to prove her strong leadership skills.

    Now lets get on with passes the healthcare reform bill and putting Sotomayer in office.

    August 5, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. Keith in Austin

    I'd like to know what America negotiated with N Korea to free these two girls? Is Kim Jong IL Obama's new International Relations Czar?

    August 5, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. Julia Bolivier

    What did Obama give the NK's for this? A promise not to "meddle" with their internal events, like nuclear-tipped missiles testing?

    August 5, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  20. DAN

    Proving once again that if you want it done right, have a Democrat to it. Republicans would have let them rot.

    August 5, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  21. Deep Throat

    HE APPLAUDED NO ONE. All he wanted was his face on the camera like he did something. Then stummbled and mumbled with out his scrolling monitor to tell him what to say. He appeared as a third grader trying to recite the night before Christmas. Get this non-citizen out of the White House.

    August 5, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. Jaison Biagini

    that is great, maybe bill should be secretary of state! now send him to afganistan and see if he can get our kidnapped soldier back.

    August 5, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. Peoples Voice

    What would the odds be that former president Bush could have pulled this off? Zero to none, perhaps.

    Thank goodness we have adults in charge again.

    August 5, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. RJN

    Happy to see them reunited with their families.
    Now I hope they learned a lesson to stay within borders!!!!!

    August 5, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. MatthewDetroit

    Although he probably just gave them a bag of cash like he always did in the past. Now tell those two stupid people and everyone else to stay out of North Korea, Iran, and every other location that is hostile to us. I dont feel sorry for those idiots. They should not have been there.

    August 5, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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