Bill Clinton Goes To North Korea

Laura Ling and Euna Lee released

Bill Clinton went to North Korea and persuaded Kim Jong Il to release two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, from prison.  The networks are falling over themselves celebrating the freeing of the hostages.  America rejoices.

Very good.

I’m delighted for the two prisoners, and well done to Bill for going all the way to PyongYang.  It’s a long, long way to go for two people in trouble.

A long and expensive journey to secure the freedom of two individuals.

So how much do you think it costs to send an aircraft like that from the US to Korea?

Would it cost $50,000 each way? $75,000, maybe?

Let’s say the round trip cost $120,000, leaving aside staff, flight crew, and Bill’s considerable hourly rate, to secure the freedom of two people.  That’s a lot of money, and I’d guess it would buy a lot of freedom back home without Bill having to suffer all that jet-lag at his age.

I reckon it would buy the freedom from misery  for a whole lot of people, two or three entire families maybe, if Bill simply took the money in a suitcase and gave it away to the first poor person he met on the streets of the United States.

Somehow, I can’t see the networks swallowing that one.  I can’t see America rejoicing either, but of course, the two hostages were never really the point anyway, were they?

54 thoughts on “Bill Clinton Goes To North Korea

  1. Maybe brother Bill, a hard dog to keep on the porch according to his missus, should have got a Ryanair flight to Ping Pong to have a chat with the Gary Glitter lookalike.

  2. It was reported on CNN I think that the North Koreans would only release them if the US sent an envoy of repute for a photo op. Bill said he’d go only if their release was guaranteed, (he wouldn’t be a stooge) the Koreans agreed and the deal was done. The Koreans got their show, the journalists got their freedom.

    There are a lot more things that money is wasted on than securing the release of journalists Bock, why are you picking on this?

    These journalists claim they never intended to cross into North Korea from China where they were working. They could have been kidnapped for all we know. A nice western prize for that nutty regime. IF that was the case, what lengths would you like your government to go to secure your freedom? Or would you die in your cell happy that the money was spent on the poor?


  3. I think you’re missing my point, which is about the resources any government will spend to secure a propaganda coup, versus the amount it will spend to make a real difference to people’s lives. The two journalists were just pawns.

  4. I don’t see the issue here.

    Small beans to a country like America, and it freed two people.

    Yes, they could have handed it out, but the fact is there were two people being held, and it got them free.

    We could spend all day talking about what countries should do. Fact is they were being held, and everyone on all sides got what they wanted out of it.

    Its not like they handed the money to the Koreans…

  5. Clinton is probably one of the shrewdest operators out there.
    Did you know that Clinton sent condolences to the nut-job president of North Korea when his lunatic father died?

  6. Unstranger, – Do you know that Dev called around to the German embassy in Dublin to express his condolences on Hitlers death….

  7. Well Bock here is the breakdown of the US budget.
    As you can see they spend a fair whack on welfare, medicare\aid, education and unemployment etc. etc.
    They are also about to spend about a trillion on health reform. Is that enough of a priority for you?
    And who’s propaganda coup was it? This was all done on North Korea’s terms. It is probably what they were angling for all along. Considering the reports on how they were treated.
    It probably helped that they worked for a TV studio partly run by Bill’s buddy Al Gore.
    If you wish to look at spending priorities, start with the US “defence” budget.

  8. Brian — All of those things are interesting examples but they’re not what I’m talking about.

    My question is this: would the same money be spent freeing two people in America if they had no political value?

  9. In America if they had no political value? No, it wouldn’t, especially considering it would have been the US govt that would have tried and convicted them in the first place. But at least they would have got some semblance of a fair trial. I doubt that happens in North Korea.

    Remember Bock the two journalists claim they were never in North Korea in the first place. Possibly kidnapped. If that is true any govt has a duty of care to its citizens to help them.

    Could you please explain what great political value or propaganda coup this is for the US govt? Do you think this will be remembered come the next elections? Will this give Obama a bump in the polls needed to get health care reform through? The photo op was all staged by the Koreans. It strikes me that the propaganda coup is theirs, the US just saw a chance to get them out and went with it.
    If they said no, we’ll spend the money on the homeless instead I don’t think that would go down to well back in the US.

    You may see in the news some idiots were hiking on the Iraq \ Iran border and got picked up by the Iranians, claiming they crossed over to the Iranian side. Should the US govt abandon them claiming it was their own stupid fault (which it was) and they would rather spend their efforts solving homelessness at home? Or should they spend some resources to help bring them home?

    Sorry Bock, it’s just that you are coming across as a bit callous. Sometimes people get in trouble abroad and we need our governments help. It’s not a sin to help them.

  10. I don’t think it’s a sin to help them. I’m glad they’re out. I just don’t see Bill diving in to help people on his doorstep that might be in even worse trouble. Do you?

  11. This is the type of conversation where I just sit back and listen. Truth is on both sides as I see it and you can be as cynical as your experience lets allows you to be. Being a member of the US Naval submarine force I can attest to the US government doing their utmost best to free members of the armed forces that inadvertently found themselves in trouble overseas even down to the lowliest seaman/private/whatever. It’s just what the US government has always done.

    And sure, if there’s a bit of political propaganda or brownie points to be had then they go for it. They’d be stupid not to but those times are very few and far between.

    Dinner’s ready, I got to go now.

  12. Kirk — Where did you detect the cynicism? I’m trying to speak in favour of people who deserve and need support.

    If you wouldn’t mind my saying so, it’s hard to know what your membership of the US armed forces has to do with this discussion. I would have thought that the opinions of a postman or a surgeon would have equal standing with the opinions of a soldier or a sailor.

    What a person does for a living is neither here nor there.

    An argument should be capable of standing on its own logic.

    Shouldn’t it?

  13. Bock don’t want to irritate you or anything but your post 11 is a bit ” Irish ”
    ” i’m glad they are out ” but you think that help he gave should have been more localised ?
    Bill Clinton does enormous work for promotion of great causes and developments, he gets paid well and why not ? He gets the job done, and thats the whole purpose.
    Are you saying you are glad he was effective in getting the journalists out but you would have preferred it cost less or was spent closer to home ? Or you would have preferred a more altruistic approach ?
    Problem in Ireland is that the job never gets done so are we becoming addicted to critisism and begrudgery because we’re not used to it, ? everyone pays to get the job done, good on you Bill.
    If the US gov were willing to pay him well, having put him through the wringer for his little ” dalliance ” of which i’m sure most of them were just as guilty, then even better.

  14. You really are missing the point, aren’t you?

    This rescue has cost the US government at least €60,000 per hostage. At least. Probably a whole lot more.

    Do you think the the US government will spend €60,000 to rescue every one of its citizens in trouble? Of course not.

    So why are the Korean journalistic hostages more deserving of this expenditure than the average US citizen in trouble on home soil?

  15. I should have said former member of the US naval submarine force (got out in ’88) and I only mentioned it as an example of the government “rescuing” those of relatively no consequence if you can assign such a thing to a human being and the cost was just as relatively high. The fact that it fell under the guise of the “Defense budget” is irrelevant. When I mentioned cynicism I wasn’t targeting anyone in particular except that cynicism was mentioned in the comments and cynicism is often a by-product of experience.

    And BTW, I’ve always formed my own independent opinion irregardless of any particular situation and/or environment I might be in at the time. Kept me from advancing too far up the ladder in the private sector but at least I have had the satisfaction of knowing that I never kowtowed to “required thinking”.

    It’s becoming a very different and rapidly changing world situation out there now privately, publicly and politically and it’s very difficult to discern what the underlying purpose might be behind something like Clinton’s trip to N. Korea. And there always is some underlying purpose.

    Edit: And you changed your comment when I was writing this one–not fair. At least my reply is still relevant. ;)

  16. Kirk — A government, in my opinion, should devote every effort to extricate people it has sent into a difficult situation and I would have absolutely no problem with that. It makes sense.

    However, when it comes to private citizens, we have to ask questions. As I said to a previous commenter, why should a citizen in trouble in Korea deserve more expenditure than a citizen in trouble on your doorstep?

  17. “Do you think the the US government will spend €60,000 to rescue every one of its citizens in trouble? Of course not.”
    Define what you mean by ‘trouble’. These journalists may well have been kidnapped. The US spends a truckload of money on home soil finding missing persons, police, prosecutions etc.

    If however by trouble you mean someone who is down on their luck or just poor then see the link I sent on US govt budget and what is spent on health, education, unemployment, welfare programs etc. If you are to compare these journalists to them then yes, I think someone who has been kidnapped overseas (IF TRUE) is more deserving of 60K than Joe Soap poor in America, who has probably had a lot more than 60K spent on them by the US govt\taxpayer in their lifetime. (health, unemployment, housing programs, welfare etc) Don’t you?

    Sorry Bock I just don’t see the big propaganda coup for either the US govt or Bill Clinton here. Look at the third photo here. Do you honestly think Bill Clinton or the US govt is pleased an ex president is posing with a despot?

  18. Stll, I think you can see my point. Of course the government isn’t going to give $60,000 to a bum, but maybe, following this precedent, in future they might send Bill to negotiate kidnappings in Cleveland or Baltimore. After all, if in Pyong yang, why not in Topeka?

  19. “Do you think the the US government will spend €60,000 to rescue every one of its citizens in trouble? Of course not.”

    Bock – There’s the rub. I guess you also have to ask the question ‘If the government gave a bum $60,000 what do you think the bum would do with it?”. And how does one compare an average bum on the street with an experienced journalist for example working overseas that got nabbed while doing their job? I see your point here but I’m afraid there’s no easy answer to it.

    “…in future they might send Bill to negotiate kidnappings in Cleveland or Baltimore. After all, if in Pyong yang, why not in Topeka?”

    By the same token would you send a representative of the Ohio state police overseas to negotiate the release of two journalists? Probably not, just as sending Bill Clinton to Topeka probably wouldn’t work either. Might be fun to see though.

  20. Well I’m glad somebody sees my point.

    Obviously you’re not going to give every drunk on the street €60,000, but will you spend that much to rescue every genuine person in trouble, or do they have to be 12 thousand miles away and on the TV?

  21. Bock – Well, not purposely being gender specific here but over in these parts if the person in trouble is female and a single mother then you bet they’ll spend several thousand $$$ per year on her–the more kids the more $$$ (they’ll do the same for a male who’s a single parent but those are rather few in comparison to the single mother–even if the male is the more deserving and qualified parent of the two involved. But that’s another topic altogether).

    On the other end of things, if you’re single, no kids and of either gender then forget it. Soon as the unemployment runs out then it’s “hit the streets” cause if you can’t pay then that’s all there’s left. It’s not right but then again, there’s a lot that’s not right in the world and it all involves people, yes?

  22. Bill Clinton going to North Korea was the ‘price’ the North Koreans were asking for their freedom. The Chief of Police of Cleveland wouldn’t cut it.
    If it’s you assertion that governments only spend significant sums of money on people as a PR stunt I disagree. Some organ transplants cost more than 60K and they don’t all make the news.
    Going off on a tangent slightly I remember the Daily Show had on an economist guest on discussing the mad bail outs. Jon Stewart suggested that what if they divided up the trillions and just gave it out to every household instead and let them start their own business’ and ideas etc. instead of rewarding greed and stupidity. Incredibly the economist agreed with him! Jon Stewart was shocked with himself for solving the crisis! Pity no one in government would take up the idea.
    By the way Bock you might want to look into the real costs of this trip instead of making assumptions:
    “The private aircraft used to transport former President Bill Clinton and two U.S. journalists back from North Korea is owned by Hollywood producer Steve Bing…….The multimillion-dollar producer, who owns Shangri-LA Entertainment group, also reportedly paid for the flight.”

  23. I have to give Clinton credit. Independent of your opinion of him, he got the job done very quickly. My only takeaway from this situation is that 2 journalists are home safe and sound.


  24. This is just wonderful news. Who better to have gone to North Korea to potentially secure the release of those two journalist. Trust that everything goes well, and they are put on that plane when Bill is set to return.

    By the way, I am a spamming prick.

  25. hmmm..Can you imagine the conversation in the Clinton household..’Rightio..Im offsky Hils’ “Where petal?’ ‘Just a quick jaunt to pick up 2 oriental burds off a Korean bloke I know, back in a few days.’ ‘You are in your bollox kiddo!!’

  26. Bing payed for the flight, Dow Chemicals seems to have thrown in a bit of cash too. But you knew that and were just winding us up, right?

  27. I didn’t know that.

    So it was a corporate publicity stunt then, was it?

    Classier than opening a supermarket anyway.

  28. “So it was a corporate publicity stunt then, was it?”
    Hardly Bock I didn’t see the hostages draped in Corporate logos and whatever did you? Now you are being very cyncial.
    “Who’s Bill rescuing today, do you reckon?”
    Seeing as you never bother to search yourself:

    I think you have just picked a bad example for your point Bock. You also seem to be ignoring the points I’ve made on the money Govts spend on ordinary citizens too. A little more research next time might help.

  29. Brian

    It isn’t about Bill Clinton. it’s about the media furore associated with this case.

    It isn’t really even about the hostages. It’s about getting inside North Korea.

    Al the rest is just candy-floss.

  30. Bock; Do you ever wonder why you have to tell readers that they are missing the point so often? Maybe it’s because your point is so stupid. I think anyone who read you post can understand the sentences you have strung together, but they generally don’t agree with your sentiment. Because it’s a load of crap. Here we have a minor good news story about two innocent people freed from captivity in a nasty regime. Why would anyone want to nit pick over how much it cost? Catch a wake up.

    Sure, Bill’s pulling a publicity stunt and he probably thought he’d get some two-on-one chinky gratitutude sex on the way back in the plane, but who cares?

  31. Getting away from the point Bock is trying to make here’s an interesting article that says the journalists and their employers will now have to face some tough questions on what the hell they were doing, and where.
    It could well be that CurrentTV were asked to do some quasi-spying by the US govt. Makes sense. Obama asks Hillary, to ask Bill, to ask Al if he could send some ‘reporters’ to the Chinese\North Korean border.
    When it all turned to poos Al told them to get his staff out or he’d tell the world what they were really doing there. Which is why the staff were kept comfy instead of the hard labour they were sentenced to while behind the scenes negotiations were being done. North Korea took it as a opportunity to show it’s people what it wanted them to see, after all it’s not as if they have access to outside media or the internet.
    Just speculating for those that love their conspiracy theories.

  32. William… yes, sorry for the last sentence. It contained an offensive typo in the word ‘gratitude’. It was sexist too, I’ll give you that; but in the context of describing Bill Clinton’s behaviour, it’s hard not to sound sexist. I’m not sure what your point was about racism though. Maybe you found it anti-American?

  33. Joe…are you serious?.. you really do not see anything wrong with the word “chinky” to describe oriental women.

  34. William; no, not really. I don’t see how ‘paddy’ or ‘pom’ or ‘frog’ or ‘canuck’ or ‘aussie’ or ‘fritz’ or whatever other nickname people make up for others can be offensive. There just words. If you attribute some characteristic to the word, like ‘whinging pom’, then that could be offensive, because there are some poms who don’t whinge that much. There are of course a lot of people out there, perhaps people like you, who sit around waiting to be offended and nerver miss an opportunity to take personal affront at a harmless comment. The new blasphemy law is made for these people, and I’m sure they’ll enjoy the chance to take offence regularly, now that blasphemy if against the law (gasp). You can already smell the self-righteousness in the air.

    Get over yourself.

  35. Joe; Here we are in this fucked up country, introducing Blasphemy laws for a nation on its economic uppers Why i ask, when we are so pervaded by bigotry, begrudgery, whinging, backbiting and that great old chestnut the pervasive fog of self righteousness, surely the only outlet left for us is a kindly bit of swearing and mockery, it’s what we hope is a bit of the few ingredients left to make us laugh at ourselves.
    The only response i have to the entire thread is “who gives a fuck ” and to echo your own ” get over yourselves ”
    Too much time on hands i think, must be guilty myself so won’t comment on this again, well at least Bill is busy and long may it last for him.
    Conspiracy theories my arse, now those can be found much closer to home.

  36. Joe the use of those terms does not bother me personaly its the hypocrisy that does.You would not use the N word to describe black people.And if you are ever in the far east try using the word chink and see if they think its funny.It may end up with a guy with a cleaver in one hand and your head in the other.Its typical bloody Irish to think you can have an a la carte menu on this.Its either one rule or no rule cant be both.And I remember an Irish guy in London who had all your terms for everybody else but always got upset at himself being called “Paddy”.Hypocrisy is what gets on my nerves.

  37. William; I would agree correct and acceptable usage of terminology is dependent on the context. For example, hip hop artists use the word nigga as a term of endearment (as in ‘Whassup, nigga?’) and this would appear an acceptable use of the word, despite its historically racist overtones. In any case, I think the liberal elite (such as Bock readers) should desist from making judgments on correct usage, since they have very little claim to a word like nigga.

    Among the cognoscenti of porn, the term ‘chinky sex’ is in common and acceptable use in reference to sexual intercourse with oriental females (you may have to take my word for this, but if you’re interested in doing durther research, I could steer you in the right direction). I believe that I used the term in its correct context, since Bill’s Extraordinary Adventure to free two hotties from the clutches of a desperate tryant has the makings of a truly memorbale porn flick. Cut to the the final scene, in which our hero lies back comfortably in his flying boudoir, embracing said eager damsels, and winks to the camera, James Bond-style, as his sips contently on his ice cold martini and awaits his happy ending.

  38. Joe — You’re drifting well off-topic, and deliberately so in my opinion, to provoke a row. Do you know what trolling is?

    Read the comments policy before you reply.

  39. A few people seem to use this topic and “hard to keep on the porch” Bill as an excuse to give this topic an sexual undertone. Not all of us guys, including notorious ladies’ man Bill, have sexual fantasies about Asian women.

    Bock, according to Reuters, billionaire Steve Bing offered his friend Bill Clinton his private jet to get U.S. journalists in North Korea. Bing will pick up the tab of the round-trip — 25-hours flight–, which at $6,000 per hour will cost at least $150,000. It’s estimated the cost could easily reach $200,000 with incidentals like food, satellite phones and landing fees.

    Amazing, two idiot Asian-American female journalists illegally cross into North Korea, obviously assuming to be immune to penalties of breaking the laws of another country, get caught, and then appeal to the US government and diplomats to save them from their fate of hard labour.

    Not only should Laura Ling and Euna Lee pay a penalty to our government for the time, effort and money wasted and spent negotiating and resolving their personally created mess, but they should also be forced to attend geography and cartography classes. They are no heroes, actually these are law breakers. However, they will sign book deals, appear on Oprah and make thousands if not more on their self-inflicted “horrific” and “frightful” ordeal.

  40. Montague I agree with you they were breaking the law.I do not believe the story about them being kidnapped on the Chinese side of the border.North Korea would never risk creating an incident with their powerful neighbour and only friend in the region.But I expect North Korea will always be portrayed as the bad guy no matter what they do.The fact that they released the girls shows that what they reall want is dialogue.And why not talk to them,it has a far better chance of success than threats, sanctions,and general bad mouthing them which is only driving the state to become more isolated and unpredictable.Was the money and effort to free the girls justified?.In my opinion yes it was but only if they and their bosses have learned their lesson from it and do not allow themselves to be used for propaganda or personal gain purposes in the way that you describe.

  41. Interesting. So if these two got themselves in trouble by their own incompetence, why not spend hundreds of thousands rescuing everybody from their stupidity? Who’ll decide where to spend the money?

  42. We do spend hundreds of thousands rescuing people from their own incompetece and stupidity as it is.The list is endless,those who climb mountains and get injured or lost,those who take to sea in bad weather.those who go potholing and get trapped etc the list is endless.And many countries provide consular services and other help to their citizens arrested on criminal charges abroad.Only last week the british goverment negotiated the repatriation of the pregnant British girl facing execution in Laos for drug smuggling.In my opinion a far less deserving cause than two over enthusiastic journalists

  43. What this Bing character does with his money is his own business.

    What frosts me as a shareholder of Dow is that the CEO has the gall to use a plane that belongs to the shareholders as if it is his own property. This is the same guy who recently screwed up the R-H takeover and subsequently had to cut our dividend to practically zero to complete the sale.

    LIveris, you idiot, don’t you realize how many retirees were depending on that check to live? Of course not and even if you did you wouldn’t care. You would much rather make a vapid PR slash with Bubba Clinton than do the right thing by your own ex and current employees.

    Truly a despicable and incompetent leader. How in the world this ” man ” ended up in charge of what used to be one of the worlds great companies is a mystery. What keeps him there is a bigger one.

  44. For clarification, Andrew Liveris is the CEO of DOW Chemical Corporation, the wonderful people who brought you Napalm.

    DOW were the sole suppliers of Napalm to the US military during the Vietnam war.

    Mr Liveris donated the money to fund the wonderful humanitarian effort in rescuing these two journalists but history doesn’t record how much he contributed to help the victims of napalm.

    Probably about €200,000 each, I’d imagine. Wouldn’t you?

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