Welcome home Laura Ling and Euna Lee!
After almost five months of imprisonment in North Korea, American journalists Ling and Lee have finally returned home to California. It’s hard to hold back the tears as you watch them reunite with their families.
The two women had been detained by North Korean authorities on allegations of illegal entry and unspecified “hostile acts” while on a trip reporting on the issue of human trafficking for Current TV, a news company co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore, on the vulnerable conditions of North Korean refugees along the Chinese border. Earlier this summer, concerns for their safety mounted when Ling and Lee were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor, potentially in camps known for their brutal conditions. Fortunately, Ling and Lee were never sent to the labor camps, and were reportedly kept in a government guesthouse during their detention instead.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, pardoned the two journalists yesterday while meeting with President Bill Clinton, who had gone on a humanitarian mission seeking the journalists’ freedom. “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,” Ling said.
As I celebrate their release, Ling’s words echo in my mind: “And now we stand here, home and free.” What would the world look like if the countless enslaved people could stand with us, “home and free”? I long for the day when our relieved tears for the freedom of these two journalists will multiply one million-fold for the freedom of men, women, and children no longer held in slavery.