Journalist Laura Ling Reflects on Her Own Release from N. Korean Captivity in 2009

Laura Ling said "luxuries that I didn't have when I was held in North Korea ... became little treasures for me"

When three Americans returned to the U.S. Thursday after being held captive in North Korea, journalist Laura Ling was "overjoyed" and couldn't help but think of her own experience of isolation, fear and destitution while held captive — and how those experiences influenced her initial days back home.

Ling said in an interview with NBC News that she had a new appreciation for "the smallest things." Music on the radio and the National Anthem made her emotional. Her gratitude deepened tremendously for even the smallest freedoms that “we tend to take for granted too often," she said.

“Just being able to take a walk, a stroll in my neighborhood, to look at the stars at night,” she said. “These were things that, luxuries that I didn't have when I was held in North Korea. And so they became little treasures for me.”

Ling was held captive in 2009 for 140 days with fellow journalist Euna Lee. The pair were working at the time for the now-defunct Current TV on a story about North Korean defectors. Former President Bill Clinton traveled to Pyongyang and helped secure their release.

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