Wow. Bill Clinton can sure get a lot done in the course of one day. He goes to North Korea, engages in a rare opportunity to talk with Kim Jong Il, and the next thing you know, Euna Lee and Laura Ling are pardoned and on their way to Los Angeles! Of course, this entire visit for discussions took several weeks of planning (let’s not forget the efforts of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who played a key role in today’s events), but he sure made it seem like a smooth and quick turn of events. Apparently, Clinton was the choice of envoy on all sides — as The New York Times reports, “North Korea, however, signaled that it wanted someone of Mr. Clinton’s stature, and the families of Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee also requested his help. As president, Mr. Clinton had sent Mr. Kim a letter of condolence on the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, according to a former official. For Mr. Kim, the former official said, freeing the women was a ‘reciprocal humanitarian gesture.’ ”
Watching the footage of these two journalists, whom we haven’t seen since this March, greet Clinton as they walk into the plane, is too endearing for words. Finally they can return to their families and go on with their lives. What I’m curious about is how the conversation went between Clinton and Kim Jong Il and how much discussion actually occurred – though it seems like making this huge spectacle itself was the very thing North Korea wanted. Nevertheless, just by looking back on Clinton’s “private mission” today, it shows that there’s nothing more effective for opening discussions and a relationship with North Korea than a face-to-face conversation – sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Now, if only a single face-to-face discussion with Clinton would solve all of the political issues in this world.
Here’s a video of Laura Ling’s father, Doug Ling, in an interview after he found out about their release. When the reporter asks him how he feels today, he answers “pretty good, I think I’ll go get drunk.” LOL. Euna and Laura’s families must be ecstatic. Good job to the Clintons!
Photo by Zhang Binyang/Xinhua via Associated Press