It was an emotional homecoming for the two journalists who call their time in North Korea "the nightmare of our lives," reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker.
As the two women celebrate their first days of freedom, details are emerging about their life in captivity. Although they appeared in good health upon , Lee lost 15 pounds and Ling had been suffering from ulcers.
Neither woman offered details of their treatment in North Korea, which has a reputation for a brutal government and has struggled through famine. Ling's sister later told reporters her sister was "a little bit weak" and it would take some time for her to be able to speak about her captivity.
Lee was able Wednesday to enjoy one of the many simple pleasures she had been deprived of for months: unlocking her own front door and walking into her home.
Her father-in-law, Frank Saldate, told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith on Thursday that the family let her turn the key.
After the ordeal, Saldate said one of the happiest moments Wednesday was when his dauther-in-law's "sense of humor came back. It was a very good feeling, that she was back in shape."
Saldate, his wife Karen and their two daughters Jenna and Kimberly helped care for Lee's four-year-old daughter Hana during the journalists' detention.
"It was something I never thought that I would have to endure," Karen Saldate told Smith.
"Not knowing was the worst," she added, saying the family would sometimes go weeks without any updates on Lee's condition.
The Saldates said Lee's daughter Hana helped keep the family centered - providing them with a focus to help deal with the emotions. They also thanked the local Korean community around Lee's home, saying they all came together to provide support for the family.
Lisa Ling, Laura Ling's sister, said outside her sister's home in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley on Wednesday that "she's really, really anxious to have fresh fruit and fresh food. ... There were rocks in her rice," "Obviously, it's a country that has a lot of economic problems."
She said Ling, 32, and Lee, 36, rarely saw each other during their 4½ months of captivity.
"They actually were kept apart most of the time. ... On the day of their trial, they hugged each other and that was it," she said.
The journalists, who work for former Vice President Al Gore's television venture, Current TV, spent five months in captivity and constant fear. Then, they were suddenly called to a meeting by their captors. They didn't know what to expect.
"When we walked in through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton," Ling told gathered media at an emotional reunion with friends and family after her arrival.
"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," said Ling.
Former President Clinton's trip was well orchestrated, reports Whitaker. The North Koreans told the prisoners they could be released if Clinton came to Pyongyang. The captive journalists passed the message to their families in phone calls.
"He was a safe choice," Jack Pritchard, a former U.S. envoy to North Korea, told CBS News. "What I mean by that is President Clinton would not go off the reservation."
Clinton and President Obama had no direct conversation before the trip, but the White House did impose conditions; namely, that Clinton would travel as a private citizen and there would be no other negotiations on separate issues - such as North Korea's nuclear weapons program.