Sky News suggests that the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee from North Korea is regarded as a triumph but the reality is that the United States may have paid a high price to bring the women home.
Most worryingly for the US State Department is the potential political fallout from this trip among America's allies in the region.
For nearly ten years North Korea has been demanding one to one talks with the United States. It has scrapped any plans to re-engage in joint meetings with Russia, Japan, China and South Korea.
Now the leaders of those countries will be waking up to images of a former US President sitting down in private with the leader of the rogue state. There will be questions asked about what else Mr. Clinton discussed with Kim Jong Il beyond the fate of the two reporters and what North Korea may expect in return for their pardon.
"Regardless of what the US administration says, the Clinton-Kim meeting signals the start of direct bargaining… it is a matter of time when bi-lateral talks between the US and the North begin," said an editorial in a South Korean mass circulation daily.
And that will be of huge concern to the people and the leaders of this vulnerable region.