tv Perspectives on North Korea CSPAN January 2, 2018 10:05am-12:01pm EST
course, roosevelt was famous for the bull moose party, and there is a full news -- bull moose engraved on the side of this gun. tour,ch c-span's cities sprinkled, missouri -- springfield, missouri. working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. next two and a half hours from an event focusing on north korea and the kim regime. we begin with a testimony of a former official at the north korean embassy in london who defected with his family in 2016. this hearing before the house foreign affairs committee took place in early november.
mr. thae: chairman royce, ranking member engel, distinguished members of the house committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. first, i would like to express my sincere gratitude to chairman royce, who kept his promise to accommodate my wishes to visit the united states and gave me this opportunity to testify before the house committee on foreign affairs. as you are all aware, i worked at the front line of north korean diplomacy until i defected to south korea in summer of 2016. but my story is quite different from other defectors who may have experienced political oppression, inhumane treatment in prison camps, or to avoid hunger and other difficulties. -- economic difficulties. rather, today i would like to tell you about my life as a
north korean diplomat, why i defected to the free world, why kim jong-un is developing nuclear and icbm programs, and how best to deal with the north korean regime. i went through causes in north korea, which cannot be dreamed by ordinary citizens there. at the age of 14, i was sent to china for a special educational program. more than 20 years of my past 55 years of my life was very privileged by north korean standards. i lived and worked in foreign countries such as china, denmark, sweden, and the united kingdom. the north korean system provided me with all kinds of political privileges and economic benefits during this time, and in the course of my last posting, i was fortunate enough to live in the u.k. with my wife and two sons.
throughout my life, my family members and relatives were all dedicated communists. ironically, however, i ended up deserting that system and ideology, and i am living in south korea, where i do not have any friends or relatives. today, i am even testifying at the united states congress, which i had always been taught to fight against. the reason why i gave up all the privileges and economic benefits was that i felt i could not let my sons lead a life like me as a modern-day slave. i believed the best legacy i could leave for my sons was to give them the freedom that is so common to everyone in america. had we not defected, i feared that some day my sons would have
cursed me for forcing them back to north korea. they were used to online gaming, facebook messaging, email, and internet news. i believe my sons would suffer a lot if they returned to the north korean system. indeed, how could any boys raised in the london education system and familiar with freedom of thought ever go back and re-acclimatize to a life in north korea? i could not confiscate freedom and enjoyment of liberty from them. i could not take back the happy smiles of my sons by bringing them back to north korea. i could not force my sons to pretend to be loyal to kim jong-un and the north korean
system and to shout, "long live supreme leader kim jong-un and the dprk," like i did all my life. as a north korean diplomat, everyday services were like leading a sleeveless double life, which was psychologically difficult. i have to pretend to be loyal to the kim jong-un regime, even though my heart did not agree. i often was asked questions on -- by my british friends which caught me flat-footed, trying to justify the north korean system when deep down i knew there concerns were fair and legitimate. they asked me things such as, how good kim jong-un prosecute -- how could kim jong-un prosecute his uncle? why did north korea continue to appeal for humanitarian aid while pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into nuclear and missile development? communism has always opposed
dynastic transfer of power, so how does kim's family's leadership system prevail so long in north korea? while dealing with these kinds of questions was always painful and they made me increasingly realize the deep-rooted contradictions upon which the entire north korean system is built. you might think that leaving a member as an elite class of north korea is all about luxury goods, fine wines, and abuse of power. yet the reality for many privileged people is far different. for example, all high-ranking leaders have to live collectively in separate apartments according to their rank. moreover, getting promoted within this system actually requires more sacrifices, reduced freedoms, and an increasing risk of your life.
even though you might enjoy more economic benefits as a result. indeed, if it is discovered a senior elite may have different ideas or express private dissatisfactions, then he or she could be subject to prosecution. even the members of the kim's family has been subject to this type of persecution, such was the case with kim jong-un's uncle and half brother. beyond this high-profile instance, much more has been going on beneath the surface of the past five years. hundreds have been persecuted without due process. for example, families of former north korean ambassadors to cuba and malaysia were sent to prison camps and nobody knows if they are alive or dead.
former north korean ambassador to sweden and the former north korean ambassador and a deputy ambassador to unesco were also forced to return back to pyongyang and expelled from the foreign ministry. while on the surface, the kim jong-un regime seems to have consolidated its power through its reign of terror, simultaneously there are great and unexpected changes taking place within north korea. contrary to the official policy and wish of the regime, the free markets are flourishing. as more and more people get used to free and capitalist-style markets, the state-owned socialist economic system becomes increasingly forgotten about. the welfare system of north
korea has long collapsed, and millions of civil servants, army officers, and security forces are dependent on bribes and state asset embezzlement for their survival. citizens do not care about state propaganda, but increasingly watch illegally imported south korean movies and dramas. the domestic system of control is weakening as the days go by. back in 2010, many experts said it would have been possible to imagine such similar events -- would be impossible to imagine such similar events taking place in north korea. these changes however, make it increasingly possible to think about civilian uprising in north korea. as more and more people gradually become informed about the reality of their living conditions, the north korean government will either have to change and adapt in positive ways for its citizens, or to face the consequences of their escalating dissatisfaction.
until now, the north korean system has prevailed through an effective and credible reign of terror and by almost perfectly preventing the free flow of outside information. today, kim jong-un thinks that only nuclear weapons and icbms can help him avert the continuing disintegration of the north korean system. he also thinks that the existence of prosperous and democratic south korea so close to the border is a major threat to his dynasty. while kim jong-un has the tools to destroy south korea effectively, he also believes it is necessary to drive american forces out of the peninsula.
and this can be done, he believes, by being able to credibly threaten the continental united states with nuclear weapons. on top of thousands of artillery pieces and short-range missiles, the potential deployment of nuclear icbms means the threat is not only towards south korea, but also towards america. in face of this emerging situation, the u.s. government is now pursuing a policy of maximum pressure and engagement. however, it will take some time to assess the effectiveness of the current economic sanctions and campaign of diplomatic isolation.
as we wait to see the outcome, we should seek to continue the momentum and even expand sanctions until the north korean regime comes to the dialogue table for denuclearization. in face of the emerging threat, we should strengthen the u.s. and republic of korea alliance and enhance military preparedness in order to prevent potential nuclear and icbm provocations by north korea. the u.s. and republic of korea governments should enhance the level of their coordination and communication under the slogan of "we go together." it is a long-established dialogue of north korea to exclude south korea while communicating only with the u.s. the united states and south korean government should
frustrate this through strong coordination. frankly, kim jong-un is not fully aware of the strength and might of american military power. because of this misunderstanding, kim jong-un genuinely believes that he can break the regime apart once he compels washington to accept north korea's new status after successfully completing the development of his icbm program and putting the new missiles into development. some people do not believe in soft power, but only in military options. but it is necessary to reconsider whether we have tried all nonmilitary options before we decide that military action against north korea is all that is left. before any military action is taken, i think it is necessary to meet kim jong-un at least
once to understand his thinking and try to convince him that he would be destroyed if he continues his falling current direction. if we cannot change the policy of terror of the kim jong-un regime, but we can educate north korean population to stand up by disseminating outside information. however, if the united states is doing enough in this regard, the u.s. spending billions of dollars to cope with the military threat, and yet how much does the u.s. spent each year on information activities involving north korea in a year? unfortunately, it may be a tiny fraction. yet we now know that the soviet
union and eastern european countries crumbled as a result of dissemination of outside information and the subsequent changes in thinking caused among people in those systems. indeed, the berlin wall would not have easily collapsed if east german people did not regularly watch west german tv. to sum up, much more needs to be done to increase the flows of information into north korea. german reunification could not have been achieved if hungarian government did not open its border with austria to provide an exit route for the east german people. now some 30,000 north korean defectives have come to south korea. in china, however, tens of thousands of north korean defectors are living without papers under the shadows and are being physically or sexually exploited.
while the u.s. continues urging -- should continue urging china and russia to support more economic sanctions, it should also do more to stop beijing from repatriating defectors back to north korea. the world was united to abolish the south african apartheid, now it is time for the world to stop the widespread and systematic human rights violations in north korea, which are tantamount to the crimes committed by the nazis. mr. chairman, this concludes my opening statement. thank you again for this opportunity, and i look forward to your questions. rep. royce: thank you very much, mr. thae. you make clear in your remarks that as more and more people gradually become informed about the reality of their living conditions in what they are told
is a paradise, but they find out how people are living in south korea or the rest of the world, that the north korean government will either have to change and adapt in positive ways for its citizens, or to face the consequences of the people's escalating dissatisfaction. as you said, it has been a powerful impact in the soviet union and eastern europe and can have the same effect in north korea. so my question is, what kind of messages should we focus on sending into north korea? who are the best? is it former defectors who have a story to tell, who can report the news of what they have seen in the outside world? and should our message, as you said, to the elites -- should our message to the elites be different than the message we would help people send to the common people in north korea?
you have made clear that both are increasingly dissatisfied with the regime, so what would be your suggestion? mr. thae: first, a north korean system can only be embraced by making its leader as a god. so, we have to find out where is the hill? after five years in power, kim jong un cannot still tell north state -- his his date of birth. nobody in north korea knows who his mother is. nobody in north korea knows his half brother. nobody in north korea knows he is the only third son of kim
jong-un -- kim jong-il. now kim jong-un is brainwashing the north korean population that he is the only bloodline of -- but after five years of this kind of continuing brainwashing, he still cannot provide north korean population with a single photo with his grandfather kim il-sung. why? because he was a hidden boy by his father. he was kept secretly and silently in switzerland. but majority of north korean population do not know this fact. so we should disseminate this information about him at first, who he is, why even now kim jong-un cannot present even a
single photo with his grandfather, because his grandfather didn't know the existence of this boy. majority of north korean people do not know that his father, kim jong-il, had several ladies to live with. so we should tell north korean people that kim jong-un and his father, kim jong-il, and his grandfather kim il-sung, the whole members of that kim dynasty, are not gods. that is the first thing that we should do. and we should disseminate the basic concept of freedom and human rights. north korea is a country with a system of classification. the population of north korea are divided to different classes, and we have to tell the
north population how stupid system it is. it is similar like a feudal class system of several hundred years ago. so we have many things to tell to north korean people that it is not a paradise, it is not a socialist welfare system, it is the worst inhuman system in human history. rep. royce: in terms of our dialogue with beijing, what should we be pressing beijing on with respect to north korea? mr. thae: i think we should continue the current momentum to inducing chinese government to support economic sanctions against north korea, but that is not enough. we should urge chinese government not to repatriate
north korean defectors back to north korea. chinese government knows well that once these defectors are repatriated back to north korea, they would be the subject of torture, they would be the subject of enforcement of labor. so we should let chinese government open the route to south korea for all the hiding north korean defectors in china. i mentioned a little bit about the cooperation between the west german government and on gary and government -- and hungarian government during the process of german reunification. if chinese government helped north korean defectors to go freely to south korea, i think that could happen a massive exodus of north korean
population to china through their borders with china. rep. royce: to south korea through china? mr. trae: yes, that's right. and if chinese open its routes to south korea, north korean system would collapse in a very short span of time. rep. royce: thank you. we go now to mr. eliot engel, our ranking member. rep. engel: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. thae, your comments are very riveting, very important to give us insight. when i was there, kim jong-il was the leader and he was referred to as the dear leader. i'm wondering if kim jong-un has
a similar title. you walk into every room, there were pictures of the two of them on the wall. it was something very scary. is that still the case with kim jong-un? mr. thae: of course, and kim jong-un even upgraded his propaganda campaign to make him as a god of north korean people. rep. engel: thank you. so is there any scenario in which north korea might freeze or dismantle its long-range missile or nuclear weapons program? what would be the best means to persuade north korea to do so? mr. thae: i think, first, kim jong-un still believes he can achieve this goal. so we should continue to tell north korean leadership and with kim jong-un himself, that america will not accept north korea as a nuclear armed state.
north korea has seen how india and pakistan achieved that goal, and they want to follow india and pakistan. but we should clearly clarify that this would not the case for north korea. rep. engel: from what you know about the internal dynamics of the north korean political and economic systems, how might increased external pressures lead the north korean government to change course? if not, why not? mr. thae: as i said, of the current economic sanctions so far, it's not enough, so we should increase more constant -- targeted sanctions, and the second, we have to wait and see to witness the effectiveness of the current economic sanctions.
north korea is used to that kind of sanctions, and north korea has a certain amount of stockpiles of war. so we have to wait until when north korea opens its doors for war stockpiles. when north korea starts to open its stockpiles of food and oil, then we may be see how long north korea can sustain. rep. engel: one of the things that shocked us when we first came into pyongyang were these massive billboards, political propaganda ones, and one of them, i don't know if joe wilson is here, but he took a picture
of one of those posters, and it was a north korean soldier putting a bayonet in the head of an american soldier, and we knew it was an american soldier because his helmet said usa on it. it was very frightening, very scary. we mentioned it to the north korean authorities. one thing stuck in my mind, when we were talking about the nuclear program, we never did meet with the dear leader, but we met with his next person, whose name was i think also kim. we were told blankly, and it was the one thing i came home from -- he said saddam hussein didn't have nuclear weapons, and look how he wound up. and it really, really showed me a bit of a mindset how they really think nuclear weapons are the key to being players. otherwise, south korea would run circles around them because of
the prosperity and the economic opportunities and the dynamism of the seoul regime. but even back then, this was about 12 years ago, talked about nuclear weapons as their key to success in the future. is that still the mindset? mr. thae: yes, still kim jong-un regime still believes they can guarantee permanent system of north korea by nuclear icbms because they think prosperous and democratic south korea itself is threatening the existence of north korea itself. that's why they think and believe that icbm tipped with nuclear weapons is the guarantee for their survival. rep. engel: let me ask you one brief question. my final question is, have you observed any changes in north korea in recent years that might
suggest an expanded united states information campaign targeting audiences inside north korea might be more successful than past efforts? how would you go about changing the north koreans' perception of the outside world? mr. thae: when the south korean content first arrived in north korea through smuggling, north korean authorities tried every measures to prevent it even by conducting public executions and rampant arrests of the people who watch south korean movies and dramas. but whatever measures they take, the demand for south korean cultures increased.
so north korean regime learned that that kind of enforcement cannot solve the problem. that's why, for the past few years, they are now developing their own footage to prevent north korean population to watch south korean movies and dramas. how? they decided to open the of kim jong-il, and decided to filter those photos from the former soviet union and the former socialist eastern european countries to find out the films which can meet the demands of enjoyment for the north korean people. so now if you are in pyongyang street, there are lots of stores where they sell those dvd discs with hundreds of russian films, former east german films,
chinese films, and even american cartoons like "lion king," "tom "beauty andand beast," these cartoons for children. they learned that in order to fill the demands for outside cultural content, they should do something. so that is why this proof that the north korean regime is very afraid of dissemination of information. so i think if we continue to disseminate, and if we continue to make a tailor-made content for north korea, we can make a change in north korea. but up until now, those contents of south korea which north korean people are watching are those which are produced for a south korean audience, not north koreans.
they just watch it for their amusement and entertainment. but, those contents so far do not actually relate to the north korean citizens' way of thinking. those cultural contents cannot make them critically analyze the life of north korea. that is why we should make tailor-made content, which can educate north korean population. i think it is time we should invest to make that kind of very simple content which can compel -- can tell the basic concepts of freedom, human rights, and democracy. rep. engel: thank you very much. to mr. chrise go
smith of new jersey. rep. smith: thank you for your courage and for being here. for providing your insights and observations. i remember during the cold war, it used to be said that the iron curtain is not soundproof. your idea of ratcheting up the freedom broadcasting could not come at a more timely point in this terrible, escalating conflict. thank you for that, that has to be followed up on. let me ask you two things. first, you have made a stunning observation and recommendation that if china were to receive defectors and facilitate passage into south korea, that it could truly debilitate this dictatorship and lead to its demise. my question is, china -- and i have held several hearings on this -- china violates the refugee convention with impunity. the whole idea of rapprochement is to send them into the gulags , or they benefited by trafficking those people who
come in, particularly the women who come in, to sexual or labor trafficking. they are making money off it. they are violating the convention. my hope is that your words to the chinese government, as well as ours, will be actionable. that is a very benign way of trying to deescalate and end this crisis. thank you for that. you might want to speak to that further. secondly, we underestimate the whole idea of cult of personality. you know, emperor hero tito -- hirohito, the fanaticism of imperial japan was based upon the belief that this was godlike, that he was god. and you said that that is exactly how they look at the kims. there is a gross under appreciation of how that leads to fanaticism, because he is god. i was wondering if you could shed some insight on whether or not people still believe that,
and to what degree, particularly in the army. they have about a million people active. that is a potent force coupled with nuclear, where they are willing to die for god. mr. thae: first of all, about the case in china. if you visit the chinese border with north korea, you can easily learn that the chinese government has built up an extensive network of catching north korean defectors along its borders. if north korean defector is she woulden he or immediately be repatriated. these days, chinese have built more fences, more riverbanks, to prevent the mass exodus of the north korean population. now the chinese government is
saying they are very much concerned about any possible refugee crisis if the north korean system collapses. but that is not really the truth. north korean defectors and the north korean population, they have a place to go. wouldkorea, which accommodate all north korean defectors from china. so the chinese argument that they would cover or burden the economic -- the cost of north korean refugees, is not true. because there is a government of south korea which can accommodate all of those north korean defectors. so we should continue to ask chinese government to open the exit route for north korean defectors to go to south korea.
we should ask the chinese government to establish camps for north korean defectors for a temporary stay and for the continuation of their journey to south korea. i think that is the thing we should do. and china is the member of refugee conventions. country, the a big chinese government has an obligation to observe its international obligation, by letting north korean defectors to go to china. the second thing, the idea of, you know, personal culture in cult, culture in north korea. it is really, really surprising, because in north korea, when you reach the age of four or five, from the age of kindergarten, you are brainwashed. for instance, every morning the
young children of three or four years are forced to bow in front of the portraits of kim jong-il, kim il-sung, and kim jong-un. when they are offered a cup of milk, they should stand up and express their thanks before they jong-un. milk to kim apples will be distributed to the population as a gift of kim jong-un. so, the kim jong-un regime established a full scale of a stupid brainwashing system, kim jong as god. we should continue to educate the people that kim jong-un is not a god. he is a normal human being.
kim's family is not a family of the god. we should tell the north korean people. that is my viewpoint. , remarks by north korean minhee grace jo. she spoke at an event in new york city earlier this year, at the george w. bush institute. we begin with an introduction by former first lady laura bush. mrs. bush: grace jo is committed to spreading liberty worldwide. grace came to the united states as a refugee from north korea. and she knows what life is like when freedom is absent. as an inaugural recipient of the north korean freedom scholarship, grace wants to help other north koreans trapped beyond pyongyang's iron curtain. george and i are honored she is
here to share her story. please join me in introducing grace jo. [applause] grace: my name is grace jo, and i am an american. [applause] grace: thank you. it is my privilege to be an american. when freedom is absent in my life, it was dark, sad, desperate. and i was fearful. my grandmother raised me until i was seven years old. she passed away. because she starved, and she did not have food to eat.
her last words were to ask us to leave the village and survive. also, her last wish was to eat a baked potato. i was so little, i was not able to not provide for her, but by the grace of god i survived and came to america. i found freedom. my father, who was a hero to me, he tried his best to help us find a way to leave north korea. however, the regime ruthlessly killed my father. only his crime was to cross the border between china and north korea, and his only crime was to bring a bag of rice for his dying children. he was handcuffed on a train. he was not able to see or stand -- sit or stand completely.
he starved for many days, and was severely tortured. my youngest brother died because of starvation. we did not have enough to make his porridge. he decided to leave us first, maybe because he realized that the regime and the country were not worth for him to live. when i grew up in china, i was able to eat white price and able to eatrice -- white rice and pork, and sometimes, i could eat meat. life in china was difficult, but way better than life in north korea. however, i had to run from place to place every time in china. however, we tried very hard. and however much we were careful in china, we were caught many times by chinese police and
forcefully sent back to north korea. each time we sent back to north korea, i had unforgettable memories that remind me that freedom is a treasure. i now know the blessings of liberty in the united states. i am a happy college student, which is almost the dream life. i always dreamed to going to university and studying all i wanted. now i became a college student, and i am very honored and happy to share this news. i also work at a private dental office and support my family, and also i travel from place to place to raise my voice for my people. all this life i cannot imagine if i lived in north korea or in china, so i feel very blessed again.
and i'm very happy to be an american. [applause] grace: american leadership to advance freedom in the world is essential. because keeping people alive, it is the most important and valuable thing in this world, i believe. because when people try to help other people, it is difficult, and they also face challenges and difficulties. when i meet them, i always tell them this -- keeping a person alive is 10 times harder than killing a person, so you are doing a good job, and keep going. working together, americans have the ability to change the world. thank you. [applause]
>> journalist blaine harden is the author of "escape from camp 14." the book tells the story of a man born into captivity at a north korean prison camp, and escaped in 2005. mr. harden talked on c-span's "q&a" program in 2012. brian: your book is called "escape from camp 14." but your first sentence in the "his first memory is an execution." what are you talking about? mr. harden: the story is about a kid at this point. he was born in camp 14, 1 of the political labor camps in north korea.
his first memory, at the age of four, was going with his mom to a place where he grew up in the camp to watch somebody get shot. public executions in the camp were held every few weeks. they were a way of punishing people who violated rules, and of terrorizing 20,000-40,000 people who lived in the camp to obey the rules. brian: you say in your book you have been to north korea once. did you get to see a camp? mr. harden: nobody has been to a camp other than north korean guards and officials, and people who go to them almost never come out. there are now five or six of these camps, and they contain between 150,000 and 200,000 prisoners. with the exception of one camp,
they are no-exit places where one goes if you are believed by or imagined by the north korean government of having done something wrong, of having been a wrongdoer or wrong-thinker. you go there without trial, usually you are taken away at night. and you stay there for the rest of your life. and very often, you will go with your kids and your parents. i was at a conference yesterday on the concentration camps, and the latest information is that half of the people in the camps now are believed to be just the relatives of wrongdoers or wrong thinkers. so collective guilt is very much a part of this system. the reason the camps exist and have existed for more than 40 years is because they are an instrument of terror of the kim
family dynasty. what they do is they put away those who might cause trouble. and they terrorize the 23 million, 24 million people in the country to not even think about causing trouble. and to that end, they have been pretty darn successful. north korea has been the longest lasting totalitarian state in world history. brian: we have a google map shot of north korea. you can see on there the line of china. what -- when you were there, you say in your book there were 23 million people there -- what do you remember? what is in your mind's eye? where did you go? mr. harden: going to north korea is not a good way to report about north korea. i went along with a group of about 600 westerners, when the
new york philharmonic went to pyongyang at the invitation of the government for a special concert. and like almost all western visitors, we were housed in a high-rise hotel on an island in pyongyang, and taken to places they wanted to show off. statues, grand avenues, the subway. and then we were taken to the airplane and left about two and a half days later. so my understanding of north korea based on that trip is that the country is bizarre, and full of white concrete and immaculately dressed guards. but that is not the reality of north korea. the way you find out about the reality of north korea -- and it is increasingly easy for
reporter to do it -- is to go to seoul, south korea, where there are now close to 30,000 defectors from north korea. there are close to 30,000 defectors from north korea, almost all of whom have arrived in the past 10 years. and you can talk to them, and they are by far the best sources of what it is like to live in that country, and how difficult it is to get out. there are now 60 former camp inmates and former guards in total who have been interviewed by human rights groups, who have given a really detailed, nuanced, and credible picture of what goes on in the camps. their words have been supplemented by increasingly detailed satellite imagery of the camps. brian: 23 million in the north. how many in the south? mr. harden: more than 50 million , and there are two different
places, two different universes. south korea is the 11th largest economy in the world. it has -- people are obsessed with education. they work really hard. they have less leisure than any other country in the developed world, and they commit suicide at a very, very high rate. in fact, the highest rate in the world now. it is a high-pressure, high-achieving, education-obsessed culture that does not pay attention to north korea in the cultural or aspirational sense. it deals with north korea because it must, as a troublemaking neighbor. brian: if my memory is correct, we lost 50,000 americans in the korean war back in the early 1950's. what was that war about, and
what was south korea then compared to north korea? mr. harden: they were both poor, and recovering from the ravages of world war ii. that war -- the united states divided the korean peninsula in the wake of world war ii between north and south. the south was sort of a military dictatorship aligned with the united states. banand the north was a military dictatorship aligned mostly with russia. kim il-sung was the leader who emerged in north korea, and he, over 10 years, created a cult of personality around himself. he modeled his state after stalin's state. and then he invaded south korea in 1951. and made real progress across south korea.
there was a counterattack by u.s.-led forces, and over the course of three years, they fought to a stalemate. the same line was returned, and north and south korea have been divided ever since. north korea remained allied with russia and china, but north korea developed a brand of totalitarian leadership that became increasingly isolated and increasingly cruel as time went on. kim il-sung was a popular leader . he had real grassroots support from lots of north koreans. when he died in 1994, people genuinely wept. his son, the first hereditary dictator in a communist state, kim jong-il, was less popular.
he did not have a popular touch. but he was shrewd. and he was cruel. in the camps -- and of the camps as an instrument of enforcement became increasingly important, and their population grew. there are indications now with this third kim family leader, kim jong-un, who is 28 or 29, interestingly about the same age as the hero of my book -- it is unclear how popular he would be. or even if he is in control at this point. brian: this book has on the cover picture of this young man. who is he? mr. harden: he is a survivor of camp 14. he was born in the camp and he escaped in 2005. as far as we know, he is the only individual on earth born in those camps to get out and tell
what it is like to grow up in >> where did you get the idea to write a book on him? >> readers wanted to know more about him, about the camp's. they wanted to give him money and save his soul. so i went back to them a few weeks after this came out and i said, let's do a book. let's dig into everything you know about that camp and how you got out of there and what it was like to walk across north korea. human rights groups said you should cooperate.
it will let the world know what goes on in these camp's and maybe create some sort of governmental pressure in the united states so that human rights becomes at the top of the agenda when they deal with north korea. >> you made an arrangement about the money? >> we split the money even, and that was important to him because he does not have any money. he really does not have any business, other than being a survivor of this camp. then we started to work on it. where did you get the idea that he even had a story? >> i knew he had a story because a friend of mine who has become withy close friend, who is the u.s. committee on human rights in north korea, she met my wife at a book group and told her about this guy.
then i talked to her and went and had lunch with him, and that resulted in the newspaper story. >> how did you deal with the language? and hen't speak korean does not speak anything other than korean. i had a series of translators. seoul thanrviews in we did in southern california, seattle, and then we also did hundreds of emails. >> i want to show this picture of you in front of the louis vuitton store in seoul. >> this was during one of our weeks of interviews in seoul in 2009. >> how tall are you and how tall is he? >> i am six foot one and he is about 5'6". malnutrition,from
and his arms are bowed from childhood labor. most of the male population of north korea is stunted from malnutrition. ,hen males come to south korea and now there are about 30,000 of them, they are on average now, according to the south korean government more than five inches shorter than their south korean contemporaries. that is an amazing statement about the nutrition in north korea. >> where is he today? >> he is in washington, because we are promoting the book. he had moved about 6, 7 months ago from the united states back l where he is doing some web broadcasting with young human rights friends, and he invites other defectors on to talk about north korea. so the translation was
extensive? not expensive. a lot of people care about him and wanted to get his story out. i have some really good translators, some of whom work for "the washington post" in seoul, but the most important translator was a man named david who is his friend, and whose family fed him when he was in ce, a suburbtorran of los angeles. david cam offered to be a trip -- kim offered to be a translator. he is now at northwestern law school and he is incredibly smart, and multilingual in american english as well as he speaks korean with his parents who do not speak much english. and he is a good friend.
he did all of the translating in southern california, which is where i did the bulk of the reporting and where shin really opened up to me after a year. >> where is this picture from? >> this is from the group house california or he was living and working for a group called liberty in north korea. >> link. >> it helped bring shantou the united states in 2009, -- shin to the united states in 2009, and he was an unpaid volunteer. they gave him housing in this group house. between 12 and 25 people lived in that house, mostly people younger than him. >> how old is he today? >> he is 29. >> you have a lot of torture stories in this book. go to the story about him being
put over the flame. , hehen he was 13 years old was taken to an underground prison, and i will explain the context for this a little bit later. he was taken to an underground prison and asked about the escape plan of his mother and brother. he did not have good answers. he was very afraid, very confused. and so at one point in that underground prison, he was taken into a room that looked like a machine shop. he was stripped and hung upside down from his ankles and wrists with his close off -- clothing with his back ofu hanging down. a cart was brought in with a coal fire, and flames came up and the cart was rolled underneath his body, and he was burned as they ask him
questions. he passed out. >> what were the extent of his injuries from that? .> they are still visible he has terrible burn marks on his lower back and buttocks of the most severe burn that you would get from being held over a fire. he has other marks on his body from other events. he had the middle finger of his right hand cut off at the first 23.kle when he was 22, he was working in a military uniform factory inside the camp. he was fixing sewing machines and working with a crew of seamstresses, and he dropped a sewing machine. they got really mad because sewing machines are really valuable, may be more valuable than the human beings who fix them. they grabbed him, took them to a table, and hacked off part of
his finger as punishment. right there, almost immediately. he has scarring on his legs from when he was hung upside down in that prison as part of the torture to get him to talk about the escape of his mother and brother. camp, hehe escaped the called -- crawled through a high-voltage fence, and his legs came into contact with the low strand and it burned his legs from need to ankle on both legs. the scars there are really horrible. >> you are talking about when he escaped and went to china? >> yes. >> what year? >> in 2005. >> how did he get inside this cap in the first place? >> he was born there. his crime was to be born. his parents were there for reasons that are almost as
flimsy. his father was in the camp because his father's brothers after the korean war fled to south korea. after the authorities heard about that, his father and his father's many brothers and parents were all rounded up and taken to camp 14 . that is whereshin was born. he does not know why his mother was there. she never told him and he did not ask. they did not have the kind of relationship where they would talk. himmom and dad conceived because they were chosen by the guards for something called a reward marriage. shin was bred like a farm animal in the camp and raised by his mother. , his mother gave birth to him, but he was raised
with the values and rules of the guards, and was not close to his mother at all. he had to memorize 10 rules of the cap, most of which end by saying, if you do not do this you will be shot immediately, and the first rule, the most important, if you try to escape you will be shot immediately. a corollary to that is if you hear about an escape and do not report it, you will be shot immediately. his 10ere basically commandments, his ethical guideposts is a little guy growing up in that camp. >> let me read the rest of those 10 quickly so that people can understand what the rules of the camp or. they almost all have, will be shot immediately. the first one is do not try to escape. no more than two prisoners can meet together. third, do not steal. fourth, guards must be obeyed unconditionally.
anyone who sees a fugitive or suspicious figure must report him. prisoners must watch for each other and report any suspicious behavior. prisoners must more than fulfill the work assigned to them each day. the on the workday, there must be no intermingling between the sexes. workers must genuinely repent of whor errors, and prisoners violate the laws and regulations of the camp will be shot immediately. were they shot immediately? >> they were shot often. of the only forms of entertainment in the cap, where people actually -- camp, where people actually did together to watch something is an execution. the rules were taken very seriously, particularly by the saw the results of disobedience very clearly. >> what was the first execution that shin saw?
>> it was the one that begins the book when he was four years old. >> how does he remember anything from being four? >> i said, what is your first memory? he said, i remember going with a crowd of people with my mom and being very excited because it was the first time he had ever been around a crowd of people. the rules of the camp is you do not spend time with a lot of what i thinkat is triggers his memory, is that he had never been in a crowd of people, had never served -- heard this sort of hubbub with people whispering and being close together in a big crowd of many thousands. >> what is the business about putting marbles in their mouth when they are shocked? >> that is a very common practice. i have talked to three others who saw this happen. they do it so that people don't
denounce the guards or particularly the leadership of the country. they are just, they cannot see anything. and they put a hood over them? >> sometimes they put a hood on, sometimes they don't. >> what about his parents? what did he see with the death of his parents and brother? >> the real heart of this book, and the psychological trauma of the rest of his life comes out of the escape plan of his mother and brother. 13, happened is when he was he was living in a boarding all kids leaves their parents at 12 and go to live with other kids. >> it was in the camp? ofin the camp, and a couple blocks from where his mom was staying. he had been in the boarding
school for a while. on friday night, his teacher, a guard told him to go home and stay with his mom. wantdid not particularly to because he did not particularly like his mom, but he did it because he was told to . when he went home that night, his brother was also what the house, which was very unusual because he lived away from the home. he lived in a concrete factory about a mile and a half inside the camp. >> his brother was eight years older. >> and he hardly knew his brother. he had no relationship with him. so they had supper, the only meal he had ever eaten in his life which was salt, corn, and cabbage. that was breakfast, lunch, and dinner. >> how do you eat salt? >> they put salt in soup, cabbage soup and corn. that is a kind of gruel and that
is the primary things, other than small animals they could catch in the cap's like mice and rats. this meal was that classic meal. he had the meal, went to sleep in the house that he lived in had a central kitchen and one bedroom. the central kitchen was for three other units besides the room where his mother slept, so he went in this room, fell withp, and was awakened the conversation of his mother and brother around midnight. he heard them talking and he looked out and also saw that his mother was cooking rice for his brother. rice is something that hardly exists at all in the camp, but it is grown there, so some farm workers can steal it and his mom worked in the farm. she must have stolen some overtime and was making rice.
she had never made rice for him and he was really jealous. he was 13 years old and was really jealous. piqued his -- that interest. his father was apparently in sort of trouble -- his brother was apparently in some sort of trouble, he had left the concrete factory. he would be punished. more, andened even then he heard his brother mentioned the word "escape" and his heart started to pound. he became very upset and very afraid because of these rules. if you do not report an escape you will be executed. then he heard his mother countenancing that conversation about escape. while and itor a
was clear that they were talking about trying to escape, and the rice she was cooking was food for flight for him to take and eat after he got out of the camp. , told his mom he had to go to the bathroom, and went out and found a guard and reported them. first he went to a classmate, said, what should idea? they reported it together. he was thinking, how could i turn this to my advantage? he asked the guard if he could have more food as a result of his snitching, and if he could be made class leader, a position that would allow him to do less work, take more beatings -- less beatings, and perhaps more food you at the guard calleds his superiors, toldhin to go to bed.
he went to school -- to bed and the school where he lived and the next morning he was awakened, told there were guards waiting for him. him put a blindfold on outside the school, put him in a jeep, and drove him to this underground prison outside the camp, which he did not know existed. he was taken inside and interrogated. he went thinking they would see him as a good snitch. so they started asking him questions about his involvement in the escape, and he was , and heed and confused did not answer in any coherent way for his first two rounds of interrogation, which included that torture i told you about. in the third interrogation, when weak to get up, he
told them, i did a good job, i turned in my mother. you can check this out with my classmates that i told, and they did check it out. shin was allowed to recover in that underground prison, and then he was taken after seven to the samen officers who had originally interrogated him, and he saw his father was in the camp. his father had also been tortured and looked horrible. his leg had been broken in the torture and his father could hardly move, hardly walk. then they were both taken together in that jeep with blindfolds on back to the execution grounds, the place he first remembers from when he was four. shin had histhen blindfold taken off and he , thought, they are going to kill me now, and he was
terrified he was about to be shot, but they helped his father to the front of the road and then they dragged out his mom and his brother. what is really interesting about this is when his mom came out, she was put on a makeshift gallows right in front of him. she was not blindfolded, a hood did not cover her face, and she tried to catch her son's i. horrors her for the had just undergone in this underground prison, and for her reckless talk of escape, and he refused to catch her eye, and she was hanged in front of him, and his brother was shot in the head three times by the guards, went back into the cap population as a 14-year-old? >> what happened to his father?
>> his father lost his good job as a ladies operator. -- leaf operator. he began to work as a laborer limping around the camp, and they had a very strained relationship after this execution. his father tried to say i am so , sorry we were selfish to have children in this camp. i am so sorry you had to live through this and i hope somehow you can get out of here, and shin said, i do not care what you say. he really thought of him. >> is he alive? >> shin escaped a decade later when he was 23. >> the year that he escaped -- >> was 2005. >> how did he escape? escape is really an important part of the book. one thing i want to say about the experience of the execution is that he was raised in such a way he did not really loved his mother.
he did not have feelings of affection, trust towards his father and his brother, and i first asked him about those things. how could you hate your mother? how could you not look her in the eye when she died? and he said, these people are competitors for food, and they did nothing for me that was useful as he saw it. ,>> what about god? >> he never heard about god. this is a concept he heard about when he got to south korea. learning to trust other people and learning to feel guilty for what he did with his mother is something that he has had to do since he got to south korea and the united states. he has seen other families, other mothers and sons together, and he has begun to feel terribly guilty about the kind of boy he was and what he did
but then he was not guilty. , >> does he know what happened to his father? >> no, he assumes his father was either tortured and killed as a result of his escape. bookknow that this is a that people should read. i do not want you to have to go into every detail, but escaping to china was difficult for him in what way? you said it has never happened before that somebody born in the cap escaped. camp escaped. -- >> this existed since 1958, and no one is known to have escaped in 2005.shin, so it was hard to get out of there, and he did it because he met someone who inspired him to think of the outside world, and
i think this is sort of his birth as a human being. he was in the camp, working in the sewing machine factory, when he was assigned to work with an older guy who was i think in his early 40's. his name was park. lived in pyongyang and had traveled and an educated in the former soviet union. he was a dutch word lady -- worldly, and a nice guy. shin's job was to snitch on him, because he had proved himself as a snitch. he had done it with his parents and other people. but he started talking about the world, and dark said, i grew up in p on getting. and then he started talking about something shin was really interested in, which was food. park liked to eat, and he talked about the joys and wonders in china.
you could get grilled chicken, grilled beef, grilled pork, and you could eat until you were full, and you did not even have .o be rich or important that is the way people live outside this fence, and that was a revelation that shin could not get out of his imagination. he dreamed about it. he fantasized about living well. park told him many other things that the news to him, world was round, but china existed, that south korea existed the united states , existed, but the leaders in north korea were a bunch of thieves and thugs, but none of that was very interesting to shin, because he had no context for understanding that. his context was that he had been hungry his whole life, and he learned if he could get out of his cage, he could eat. he said, that was enough for
him. camp 14 is how far from the chinese border? >> it is about 300 miles, and it ofabout 50 miles north pyongyang in the mountains of north korea. >> what was the camp surrounded with? what kind of fence? with was a barb wire fence between eight and 10 lines that were electrocuted. this is not the type of fence where a cow touches it and jumps. it is the type of fence where it will grab you and kill you. that is the kind of fence it is. shin heard about grilled meat in china. he got very escaped and said, let's try to escape. park was ok with that idea. he said they would try. he met park just two months before he decided to escape.
this was all very sad, and shin got very excited. they were very lucky in their estate planning, because they were assigned in the first of the year to go up to the side of the camp to gather firewood of was not near the guard tower that was not near the guard towers. and they waited until late afternoon on january 2, 2005, until dusk, and they ran toward the fence. in fact, when shin decided to go andaid, let's go, to park park said, i am not so sure. and shin actually grabbed his hand and told him toward the fence and then park started to run. as they ran, shin slipped and fell in the snow, on an icy part
of the snow because it was cold. park shoved his torso between the first and second strand of wire and was electrocuted, and fell dead on the fence, and pulled the bottom strand down. shin crawled, without a moment's hesitation, crawled over his body and got most of the way over the fence, and his legs flipped off on both sides, and he got terrible burns from the voltage. i talked to an expert on electrocution at the university of washington who deals with , people who deal with power lines in the pacific northwest, and this scenario which struck me as pretty weird and pretty odd and not believable he said , it was completely believable this would happen, and that this would be the only way. he needed that insulator so he
could get through the fence without taking a lethal charge. >> there was a chance he would have been electrocuting himself if he had tried to get through. >> he was lucky to get through the fence, but is not like winning the lottery. it is something that is conceivable to do, according to experts, and he got through the fence. the plan was for mr. shantou be the inside. shin. once they got outside the park, -- outside the fence mr. park , was supposed to be outside the fence. he was supposed to take them to china and arrange for their shipment to south korean, but park was dead. >> after he got out of prison, how long did it take him to get the china and then back to south korea? >> it took him a month to get
across south korea, a month of walking, riding in trucks. he hopped a train. is really things that interesting about his journey across north korea, a totalitarian police state, and this is a kid who did not know which way was north. and it really is an incredible lucky trip that he made, but he had a couple of things to his advantage. he was very smart. he had a cunning sense of self survival, and that is why he managed to survive in the camp. he was also smart enough to keep his mouth shut. he did not tell anyone he was from the camp. a few hours after he got through that fence, he came to an old barn that nobody was around. he found some old military clothing that he put on. >> this is in china? >> this is in north korea. and north korea is one of the
most militarized place on earth. there are military uniforms in virtually every bar that you would find, so he found a military uniform, a change of clothes. , and hen longer dress walked into a town and he looked very much a gay lot of young north koreans. filthy, wearing an old military uniform, and he did not have much to do. a lot of unemployed people drifted around in north korea in the wake of the great famine. north korea at the lowest level is a very disorganized place where the food distribution system is very informal. it depends on smugglers from china. it depends on farmers selling food from cooperative farms when they are not supposed to, and
the north korean government has no choice but to put up with this sort of messy, informal market system because it is the only way that people can eat. 80% toere estimates that 90% of the calories in the stomach of any north korean come from this system, so he fell into the system. existed,t know it was -- it existed, but he was lucky. within a few days he had broken into a house, stole some clothes, and stole a big bag of rice. it was a 10-pound bag of rice which he put in a backpack that he also stole, and he walked out to market. the market lady said, what have you got in the bag? .e said, i have some rice she said, i will give you money for it. park told him a few weeks before the money existed.
andought some crackers other snacks and went walking out of town, and saw some other traders basically moving north towards china to do trading. he fell in with them, and that was his route out of china. >> let's go back to how you put all this together. how many hours did you talk to shin to get this book? hours. not sure how many i think we had seven sessions of and four of those sessions were weeklong sessions where we would start in the morning and end in the late afternoon. >> how did you document it? >> document the interviews? >> did you record them? >> i recorded them. >> on audio only? >> i recorded them on audio, and i also took notes on the computer simultaneously, and there is a question of verifying
shin's story, and it is a very important one to deal with. >> you say he lied to you. >> he lied to me about his role in betraying his mother. when he got to south korean he did not say he betrayed his mother. he simply said they were executed and he saw it. he thought if he told the story the south korean government might arrest him. certainly people might think of him as not human, and he finally about a year into our interviews decided that he would tell me the truth. he said the reason he did it was because he was surrounded by people telling him the truth and who cared about him, so he felt an obligation to tell the truth. >> when you see this photo of
him, which i believe was taken in seattle, what do you see in that face from your knowledge of sitting with him? >> what is interesting about his face as he looks so young given the hardships of his life. >> his age now? >> he has aged a little bit. >> i said, his age now. this was taken when he was 28 or 27, but when i met him, i swear he looked like a teenager, and i just saw him yesterday. he has a youthful look. >> how has he changed since you started talking to him? >> he has become less wary. less suspicious, and a little bit more at peace with himself, because he has told the truth about the betrayal of his mother. were talking at a human rights convention, and he talked about selling out his mother and why he did it and what he hopes will come of the
truth he told. he wants people to know this is the kind of human beings they are trying to raise in these caps. camps. >> did you ever see him get mad at you? >> he got mad at me because he did not want to talk about all of this stuff. journalists just want to keep drilling. i said it was like being a dentist and not using anesthetics, and it was painful and miserable for him and , sometimes he would say no and leave. >> why do you think the american people would be interested in this book when you say the south could care less about this north korean? >> the reason people should care about this book is because it is a great story. it is an adventure story.
it is also a great psychological story because it is about how a person goes from having no human emotions to feeling like they are a good idea and developing it. the normal trajectory of escape stories or concentration camps stories is you have someone who comes from a sophisticated, civilized family. they are taking to the cap. -- cap. -- camp. all their other relatives are killed. they have to behave in an inhuman way to survive, and then they come out and tell their story about their descent into hell and then they come out of it. this story is completely different, because he was born in hell and thought it was home, and the world and what it means to be a human being are completely different. >> why do the south koreans not
care about the north koreans? >> they have moved on as a culture and an economy. their aspirations are for greater individual wealth, for technological achievement. north korea, which exists in some ways in the middle ages, is a dead weight on those goals. most of the family ties between north and south korea have been attenuated by time and weakened by age. most of the people who have living relatives are in their 60's or 70's or 80's, so the actual connections are falling apart. >> i ran into some germans the other day and said, how is it going in your country? i said how about east germany? and they said, they are doing
very well. are they worried in south korea is going to cost them to pick up the 23 million people? >> they are very worried. there have been lots of studies by economic consulting groups about the cost. there are estimates it could cost three times as much in comparable dollars to have unification with the north is the development problems in north korea. if you fly over the korean peninsula at night, north korea is light. china is light. it is just dark in north korea. that darkness is a good symbol of the state of development. there are very few roads. the education system has largely collapsed. factories do not work. the place is a basket case run
by a militarized state that survives because of aid from china and the sales of missiles to places like iran. >> up next on our special program looking at north korea, remarks by joseph camp, a young refugee who escaped north korea at the age of 14. he spoke at an event hosted by the huddleston institute -- huddleston institute in 2012. you can watch all of the events featured in this program on our website, c-span.org. joseph kim, and i was born and raised in north korea until i was 16. my family constantly fought against poverty. i was always loved and cared for , because i was the only son.
however, that kind of luxurious life was not reserved for me forever. when i was 13, my father died of starvation and my mom disappeared and my older sister went to china for money, but never returned. i became an orphan. transition where i had to grow up overnight, from a .poiled child to a survivor there were not many jobs, other than begging on the streets tirelessly. i lived like an animal. my daily life was very simple but very hard. i hoped to find the best piece of bread from the trash. i did not have hope for the future and i did not have ambitions. my only goal was to be full.
when you are hungry and tired, freedom and politics are not relevant. after years of waiting for my sister to return, i decided to leave north korea. it was the biggest decision i had to make. first, it was risky. after all, it was still my country. i have friends from preschool to elementary school, and it was the place where i grew up with all kinds of memories, where i swam and played with my friends. successful.s very i am thankful that god protected me during that time. while i was in china, i am counted link. has an executive director and because of their hard work, i was able to come to america successfully. i life has been changed and my
perspective of the world has been changed after i came to america. i do not starve any more and more importantly, i live like a human being. i have goals and dreams and hopes. my life in america is close to heaven. my dream is one day that all north koreans will experience the life i have now. it is a big dream. i might be aiming for an intangible goal. i can do so little. maybe in unity, we will make this possible. i went toister and the mountains to collectwood to cook. my father could not join us. he stayed home because his strength was weekend from now nutrition. we left home at 5:00 a.m. and
when we returned home, it was midnight. there were no trucks and we had to bring it by hand. by the time i sister and i finished collecting wood, it was midnight. it was already dark. we were exhausted and i was afraid we could not make it home . maybe we are in the midpoint of home, and i saw my father walking toward us out of the dark. i was so happy that he was with me, even though he could not help that much. because my father was with us, our journey home felt so much better and shorter. is there anyone who doubts that anything,o weak to do my answer is no, you are not. my father did not have magic powers. my journey to the mountain from home was shortened.
toticipate and bring change human rights, he did not have to be strong or special. it is ok if you cannot support financially, and it is ok if you cannot invest all your life and please, do all you can do. if you can only pray for god, pray for them. if you can only cry, cry for them. but please, do not ever forget my friends who are also your friends. moment, they are tirelessly waiting for help. the bookd believe "escape from north korea" can be aed as a buoy to connect river from north korea to china, and to bring my friends to freedom. thank you so much for coming out to listen to my story, and our
story. thank you so much. [applause] >> when i met joseph in china years ago, he did not speak a word of english. this is extremely impressive. i do not think he needed that speech class as badly as he thinks he did. one thing i want to share real got towhen joseph first the united states i purchased some books for him as i figured he had a lifetime of poor education or propaganda, and i figured he might want to know what the real story was of how korea got to where was and what the world was like. we got him history books in korean, and i asked him what books you might request and he asked me for shakespeare. he would have no reason to ask for shakespeare, but it turns out he had heard of him before he left north korea.
i asked him if he read the book and he said to fully digest the book, he read it three times. that speaks a lot to joseph's intellect and the extraordinary nature of his story. one challenge i always have when i am speaking about north korea as i run out of adjectives to describe how bad things are. many of you that follow policy or human rights situations get jaded with numbers. another torture story, another atrocity, it is only half a million. it is easy for us to write off bad things as we assume bad things happen over there and do not affect us, and the challenge with north korea in particular come up things are so bad on scale and scope that it sounds fake. it sounds like a lie. it sounds ridiculous. the words sound unfathomable, impossible to comprehend. north korea is all the things the panelists have talked about and more.
if we wanted to go down the list and bullet point the violations, we would be here for hours. that is a challenge for those of us who have chosen to speak about north korea when trying to articulate what the circumstances are like. i will point out just a few things so we can have the framework of what is going on. story ofpaints a great the underground road and the risk they took to get out of that situation, it is a very real situation where they decide to put their life in their hands and escape. when i first met joseph he was many wonder if he was fully aware of the decision to lead. if you try to seek freedom elsewhere, guard of where you are trying to get to, you are aware you could be caught on the way, and/or tortured and/or killed. for someone to go through that risk, what you are escaping from
has to be really bad, extraordinarily bad, far worse than whatever you are facing. north korea is that bad. one million to 2 million north koreans starved in the 1980's and the government had access to food to feed its people and did not. the government is not there to facilitate the well-being of its people but about 1000 or 2000 elites. particularly, one family with the last name kim. or 7 million north koreans are on starvation level for food. emergency calls saying millions of north koreans are about to die and the need military aid, and yet they continue to spend billions on nuclear tests and missile tests when people are starving. that shows you the priorities of the country. that does then you get into the
mass human rights violations. when i put arested cup of water such as the condensation covers the dear leader's face. chineseas in hospitality in 2006, they had the actual head of the prison was ethnically korean. i happen to speak to -- korean, so we talked quite a bit, nothing subversive. he is not going to get in trouble. one thing he shared his they get north koreans all the time in that prison and on mondays and thursdays they get sent back to north korea almost like it is milk day or trash day. he told me that the young boys in particular would beg him, call him older brother in korean, a cam and say, can you cut my hair? the reason they asked for that
is because north korea has rules of how long and what styles are hair needs to be. if your hair is longer in length it means you have been out of the country for a long time, so if the hair is cut the kids had a shot at going back and saying, i got lost. way indy involved in any north korea knows what is happening. the illusion is in the sense that we cannot solve it. they illusion is that we think this is an inevitable crisis that cannot be fixed and we have no right and no ability to do anything about it. north korea is not just an issue for human rights. it is almost this black hole in modern civilization. by any measure, whether you have a connection to korea or not, it is a huge problem. counterfeiting, state-sponsored terrorism, it is astonishing
that this is not a huge issue not just in general but in the presidential election when nuclear armed states are surrounded, this is a big deal we keep pushing under the rug and kicking the can down the road. i think there will be a day when north korea is free. it may be 100 years from now or 10 years from now, but that day will come. most of us involved in government and policy realize there could have been much more we could have done, and the situations are worse than we anticipated. this is worse than the hocking -- holocaust, there is no evidence anyone can access. there was evidence during the holocaust. many people would say, if i was in that position back then, i would have acted differently. everyone can go home and google and find concentration cap's.
joseph sat there on google and showed me the route from home to school every day. in fact that he can do that 2012 is that we have overwhelming evidence of what happened, and there is no excuse in terms of ignorance. when you look at korea and what south korea, the republic of korea has accomplished in the last 60 years, the korean people can do extraordinary things. it went from one of the most impoverished countries in the world to the 10th largest economy in the world. look at what joseph has accomplished, what koreans have accomplished. north korea is the part of korea that never had that freedom. the first half of the 20th century is old news for everybody in south korea and the united states, but in north korea, they are still stuck in that place. we have a special responsibility to fix it. when joseph first came to the united states and we took him to a grocery store, there is other things we do not think about.
we took him to buy snacks. i do not know if he remembers this, that his jaws dropped when we got to the isles. .- aisles, he had his first strawberries, and to explain what it was and watch him eat it was amazing. we took him to the zoo. dinosaurs,orama of and i had so much difficulty explaining to him what a dinosaur was when there is no context. these are things that are just wasn't illustrations and anecdotes, but you take that level of education and isolation from the outside world across the board, and you can imagine a nation that is crippled, not to mention the impact of generations that are malnourished. entire generations of children are not just physically stunted but have had brain damage. north korea is not just a
problem for koreans, not just for people interested in human rights. it is a problem for everybody. people who are in this room have the special ability to weigh in on the state of those people. i would share the perspective of the prior impact of sanctions and other approaches that had measurable results with north korea. we had regular feedback from our own sources in the country that those things were working extremely effectively. this is not a problem that will go away. at some point, it will have a hard or soft landing. at some point those people will be free. how many have to die until we get to that point? that is no question at all it will end some way in a big way, and will be the issue for everyone in the region, if not the world to deal with. >> singer, actor, and author henry rollins published a photo
book titled "occupants," which includes images from a trip to north korea. mr. rollins talks about the journey and shows his photographs at an event hosted by the national geographic society. henry: it is pyongyang, north korea. it took me about two years to get this visa, and they let about 100 or less americans a year into north korea. luckily, i got in, in time for the mass games. as is the famous room where the north and south meet. the back door behind the soldier's back, that is south korea. my back is to north korea. spiethere with my two tour and we are there togethers. they are taking photos and making a lot of noise, taking photos of the soldiers.
up mye really screwing man alone in north korea five i'm trying to get, and i sat. everyone left. they said, we are walking, we are walking. i am alone with this guy that became furious that i did to sit in there with him -- dared to sit in there with them. he put his arm down and i took that photo and said, thank you. i kind of bolted out the door as i was looking at my shot. i was thinking, if i can get my shot out of the country i am going to have a slideshow one day. [laughter] those, hes is one of hope to get the f-stop rate, the light, the setting, and everyone can get that michael jordan shot in the last three seconds. that room, you have seen it in a few different documentaries. ,n the outside of that wall
there are american soldiers playing peekaboo, looking around that corner. there are soldiers behind that, north korean ones, in a triangular shape. one guy they can yank back if america starts firing bullets. it is so grim and ridiculous a stare down. you aren't adult people having a stare down? what are you going to do? they should just get it over with. as you know, they have to mass games every year in the largest stadium in the world which is in pyeongchang, north korea. it is not a large television screen you see. i do not know how many thousands of school kids, holding up colored cards, and they do this in perfect synchronization, one image every minute for a perfect 90 minutes, and every five minutes, thousands of people in their brightly colored outfits leave and another thousand people come out and do something.
it is like cirque du soleil on growth hormones. unfortunately, nobody has money to see it. you could park three soccer stadiums inside this place. it is as big as long beach, california, and no one can afford to go in. we tourists have the $1.25 seats and there is less than 200 locals going in for eight cents or $.10 in the nosebleed seats. as rest is completely empty these people for 90 minutes run around in beautiful harmony, and no one gets to see it. they do six shows a week for a month and no one gets to see it. it is incredible. they insist on having the biggest things, the biggest stadium. i tour guide said to me, that is our arch of triumph. i said, it looks very triumphant. >> we are going to step away briefly from this discussion on north korea to take you live to the house.
the house gaveling in for a quick pro forma session. live coverage of the u.s. house. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.] the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. the chair lays before the house a communication from the speaker. the clerk: the speaker's room, washington, d.c., january 2, 2018. i hereby appoint the honorable jody c. arrington to act as speaker pro tempore on this day. signed, paul d. ryan, speaker of the house of representatives. the speaker pro tempore: the prayer will be offered by our chaplain, fat