- May 8, 2008
- Type me.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee had been found guilty of entering illegally in March.
The news comes hours after former US President Bill Clinton made an unannounced visit to Pyongyang on what was described as a private mission.
North Korean state media say Mr Clinton has now left the country but it is not known if the journalists are with him.
Mr Clinton is the highest-profile American to visit since ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000.
The BBC's Kim Ghattas, in Washington, says it is expected that the two journalists will fly back to the US with Mr Clinton, although that has not been confirmed.
"Kim Jong-il issued an order... granting a special pardon to the two American journalists who had been sentenced to hard labour," the official North Korean News Agency (KCNA) said in a statement.
The women's pardon and release was a sign of North Korea's "humanitarian and peace-loving policy", KCNA said.
How does Bill Clinton pull off this stuff?