CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Dick Cheney, Kim Jong Il
Aired May 3, 2003 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he serves in the shadows as America's vice president.
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THOMAS MANN, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Bush very wisely saw in Cheney someone who wouldn't outshine him.
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ANNOUNCER: But he was a driving force behind the war with Iraq.
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JAMES CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "TIME" MAGAZINE: What is being called the Bush doctrine is actually something that Dick Cheney has been working on for more than 10 years.
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ANNOUNCER: In his youth, he got a wake up call to change his ways from his high school sweetheart.
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FORMER SEN. ALAN SIMPSON, FRIEND: You could see a person who was going through the period of raising hell, you know, didn't give a damn about anything.
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ANNOUNCER: From small town Wyoming to inside the Beltway, the man some call one of the most powerful vice presidents in U.S. history, Dick Cheney.
Then, the reclusive leader at the center of North Korea's nuclear crisis.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing he has is military.
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ANNOUNCER: He assumed power from his iron-fisted father.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Korean, we have the expressions tiger father and dog son.
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ANNOUNCER: An eccentric dictator with an extravagant lifestyle.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hennessey Cognac confirmed his annual bill runs between $650,000 to $720,000.
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ANNOUNCER: The strange life of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi.
Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
I'm Paula Zahn.
Friends of Vice President Dick Cheney sometimes like to joke that he's always at an undisclosed location, even when he's sitting right in front of you. And in some respects, that's true. Discretion and quiet confidence are Dick Cheney's trademarks. But out of sight does not mean out of the loop. He is the ultimate insider, working behind- the-scenes in the White House on everything from the economy to the war with Iraq.
Jonathan Mann has our look at the vice president, his life, his politics and his power.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mention Dick Cheney and the first question is not so much who is he, but where is he? Over the course of his 40 year career, the vice president has been just over the shoulder of some of the key players in American government. In the '60s, there he was in the Nixon White House as an aide to Donald Rumsfeld. In the '70s, as Gerald Ford's chief of staff, leading Congress as minority whip in the '80s, ordering troops into Kuwait as secretary of defense in the '90s and now in 2003, he's right behind President George W. Bush.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The vice president is delighted to welcome you to the people's house, too.
JONATHAN MANN: Some say he's the most powerful vice president the United States has ever seen and that he's used his influence to try to turn American foreign policy on its head, by calling for preemptive strikes on perceived enemies.
CARNEY: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney this year rewrote America's foreign policy. They changed the direction of America's foreign policy that had been in place for 50 years, since the Second World War.
JONATHAN MANN: Just days before bombs began to fall on Baghdad, Cheney hit the air waves for the first time in seven months to reinforce the theory behind the war with Iraq.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we simply sit back and operate by 20th century standards with respect to national security strategy in terms of how were going to deal with this, we say wait until we're hit by an identifiable attack from Iraq, the consequences could be devastating for the United States. We have to be prepared to prevent that from happening.
JONATHAN MANN: But aside from the rare Sunday talk show appearance, the vice president works largely in the shadows.
NICHOLAS LEMANN, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER": If you could project yourself forward in the future 50 years, I think you would probably find that the vice president was very, very influential in every step of the way in deciding to go to this kind of ultimate confrontation with Saddam Hussein.
JONATHAN MANN: Cheney's strength has always been his ability to play the strong supporting role.
KEN ADELMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY: I think bosses throughout Dick's life, including President Ford and now President Bush, have really appreciated his discretion, his good judgment and his view that I'm here to help you, I'm not here to see my face in the paper and I'm not here to get on television. I'm not here to do any of that, I'm here to help you.
QUESTION: Congressman, can we talk to you just a second?
JONATHAN MANN: So how has the low key Cheney been able to climb through the ranks in a city where star quality is the key to success? Friends and colleagues say the answers lie out west, with Cheney's roots. He was born in Nebraska on January 30, 1941. But home to Richard Bruce Cheney has always been a small, quiet town in Wyoming, nestled between scenic mountains, prairies and oil refineries.
JOE MEYER, WYOMING SECRETARY OF STATE: Casper was typical 1950s. Your doors were unlocked. You could stay out late and not worry about the consequences. You could walk two blocks out of town and see pheasant and turkeys. It was a different era with a different mindset.
JONATHAN MANN: Netrona County High School (ph) became the center of life for Dick and he made friends quickly.
MEYER: A group would take my Plymouth convertible out and we would tie a rope to it on an irrigation ditch which was about five miles west of Casper. We would drive up and down the road and hop down there with some boards on our feet and we'd just water ski.
JONATHAN MANN: Friends say Dick didn't much like the spotlight, yet he was senior class president, star halfback and co-captain of the football team, and eventually boyfriend of the school's homecoming queen. Lynn Vincent (ph), the pretty blonde at the top of their class caught Dick's eye.
MEYER: Lynn was a straight A student. They would flinch if I said this, undoubtedly smarter in an I.Q. sense, than Dick was.
JONATHAN MANN: As graduation neared, Lynn was college bound with a full academic scholarship. Dick was just an average student with no university prospects of his own. Until he went to visit Lynn at her after school job and met her boss.
LEMANN: He would spot promising lads in the senior class at the high school in Casper and kind of talk to them and talk to Yale and arrange for them to go to Yale.
JONATHAN MANN: Dick Cheney needed those strings pulled. His grades and his family's lack of finances would have kept him out of the Ivy League under normal circumstances. The leap from small town Wyoming to the wealthy patrician community of Yale was overwhelming.
SIMPSON: It was just disaster, you know. He didn't fit.
JONATHAN MANN: He told his friends he was having a hard time adjusting to the life of fraternities and privilege that surrounded him and he missed having one of his biggest motivators nearby.
MEYER: He had a deep love for Lynn and when they were apart, when he was at Yale, she was at Colorado College. I know they missed each other tremendously.
JONATHAN MANN: Already not the best student, his grades suffered and he was asked to leave the school for a semester or two. Dick returned to Wyoming and took a union job laying power lines. It wasn't the best time for Dick Cheney.
SIMPSON: You could see a person who was going through the period of raising hell and not paying attention and didn't give a damn about anything.
JONATHAN MANN: He was arrested twice for drunken driving and after re-enrolling at Yale, his dismal grades forced the school to dismiss him for good.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Dick Cheney gets an ultimatum that changes the course of his life.
SIMPSON: She said, you know, Dick, if this is all you're going to do, that would be very unfair. You would be treating yourself badly.
JONATHAN MANN (voice-over): By the age of 21, Dick Cheney had dropped out of Yale, had several brushes with the law and was working a dead-end job in Wyoming. One thing going for him was his high school sweetheart, Lynn Vincent. But they were on very different paths.
SIMPSON: He worked out on the power lines, you know, out in the wind and the rain and she wasn't about to hook up with him.
JONATHAN MANN: Lynn gave him an ultimatum.
MEYER: I've got to believe it was his deep-seated love for Lynn, he didn't want to disappoint her, that certainly gave him some backbone to keep working as hard as he did.
SIMPSON: You finally light a fire in yourself. You figure why am I drinking like I am, why am I doing this?
JONATHAN MANN: 1964 was the turning point. Finally committed to changing his life, Cheney married Lynn and went back to school at the University of Wyoming at Laramie.
MEYER: He got into political science and it just captured his imagination. It was unbelievable.
JONATHAN MANN: This new passion for politics landed Cheney an internship in the Republican side of the Wyoming state legislature. In 1968, Cheney got a job with the governor of Wisconsin, so the Cheneys moved to Madison and got full scholarships at the University of Wisconsin, a hot bed of student protest at the height of the Vietnam War. Enrolling at the university allowed Cheney to defer the draft and stay home with his growing family.
Politics was a natural fit for Cheney. He was becoming confident and enterprising. When Donald Rumsfeld was chosen by President Nixon to head up the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1969, Cheney sent him an unsolicited memo on how to handle his confirmation hearings. The bold move got him a job.
Throughout the next several steps of his career, Rumsfeld would take Cheney along as his deputy. This steady rise through the ranks of government reached its peak when, in 1975, President Gerald Ford made 34-year-old Dick Cheney the youngest White House chief of staff in history.
MEYER: It was something that he truly loved. He loved the politics. He loved the debate. He loved the discussion.
JONATHAN MANN: One year later, Dick Cheney's stint in the White House would be cut short. Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election, leaving Cheney jobless and at a crossroads. For the first time, Cheney's own political ambitions surfaced. And though he had grown comfortable with the fast-paced rhythms of Washington, the down home twang of Wyoming called and he decided to run for a seat in the heavily Democratic U.S. Congress.
ADELMAN: Running in a primary for a Republican seat is the lowest of the low, the lowest form of life, except for paramecium. And so to go from chief of staff to running for the nomination for Republican congressman in Wyoming was, as they say in "Hamlet," oh what a falling off there was.
JONATHAN MANN: Just weeks into the campaign at the age of 37, Dick Cheney's three pack a day smoking habit, poor diet and high stress jobs caught up with him. He had his first heart attack. Cheney refused to give up. He had his wife and daughters hit the campaign trail while he was in his hospital bed. He even made a written plea to voters.
MEYER: "I see the error of my ways. I'll never have another cigarette again. I will exercise. I really do want to be your congressman."
JONATHAN MANN: The people of Wyoming sent him packing back to Washington as their new congressman.
THOMAS MANN: He built friendships within the body and saw himself moving, over time, up the leadership ladder.
JONATHAN MANN: By 1988, his congenial, easygoing ways got him all the way up to minority whip. But all the while Cheney was amassing a voting record more conservative than Newt Gingrich or Trent Lott. Cheney voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, against busing to desegregate public schools, against abortion even in cases of rape or incest, against a holiday for Martin Luther King.
ADELMAN: His voting record was a shock because people assume that if you're going to be real conservative you're going to be real mean and have a lousy personality. And what Dick Cheney showed is that you can be real nice, real smart, have a wonderful personality and still be conservative.
CHENEY: Well, good afternoon.
JONATHAN MANN: In 1989, after 10 years in Congress, the White House came calling once again when John Tower, the nominee for defense secretary, was rejected for drinking and womanizing.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dick Cheney is a trusted friend, an adviser.
JONATHAN MANN: The Bush administration needed a candidate who would win easy approval and they thought Cheney fit the bill. And despite some controversy surrounding his lack of service in Vietnam, Dick Cheney became the 17th secretary of defense with a unanimous vote. As Pentagon chief, Cheney maintained his trademark style -- tough, low key, in control. And two years into his term, when Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait, the master strategist got the chance to strut his stuff on the world stage.
Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Dick Cheney's radical philosophy plays a major role in the second Gulf War.
CARNEY: After 9/11, and this year when George W. Bush needed a doctrine, Dick Cheney had it in his suitcase. He had it ready to go.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
JONATHAN MANN (voice-over): In 1991, pushing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait made Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf super heroes. After years of being a supporting character, Pentagon chief Dick Cheney wanted to bask in the after glow, too.
LEMANN: He thought that because of the Gulf War, he was a really plausible presidential candidate.
JONATHAN MANN: But Cheney wasn't striking a chord. MANN: Dick Cheney is as low key as they get. He has a kind of a pudgy look about him. He speaks in monotone. He doesn't generate a lot of excitement.
JONATHAN MANN: After two years, he abandoned his pursuit of the presidency. Dick Cheney decided it was time for a break and while napping during a fly fishing trip, his next opportunity materialized as if in a dream.
LEMANN: The subject came up of who should be the new CEO of Halliburton. The job had come open. And while he was asleep, all these CEOs with whom he was fishing decided he would be perfect for the job so when he woke up they told him guess what, you're the new CEO of Halliburton.
JONATHAN MANN: Cheney used his extensive government contacts to help the oil and energy company grow. But after five years on the job, old allegiances pulled him away. Presidential candidate George W. Bush, the son of his former boss, was launching his campaign and Cheney was enlisted to help him find a running mate.
SIMPSON: He'd feed a name into George Bush and George would say well, now, what about this person? Well, here's what we found or here's the negatives and the positives. Well, that's great, you know, that's great, Dick, but, you know, I'd like to think about you. And Dick just said forget it.
JONATHAN MANN: But Bush's persistence paid off. In August of 2000, Cheney formally resigned from Halliburton, with a $36 million golden handshake and the Bush-Cheney team was formed. THOMAS MANN: Bush very wisely saw in Cheney someone who agreed with him on policy, who embraced his conception of leadership and decision- making and thirdly, someone who wouldn't outshine him.
JONATHAN MANN: As Cheney campaigned with his wife and two daughters, his conservative core constituency became concerned about younger daughter Mary's sexual orientation. Meanwhile, the gay community was appalled that the father of a lesbian could have supported a ban on gays in the military and voted against funding for HIV/AIDS testing and counseling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney.
JONATHAN MANN: Cheney continued campaigning in what turned into one of the most hotly contested elections in U.S. history. After 35 days and an unprecedented intervention from the United States Supreme Court, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were declared the victors in the 2000 election. They got down to business right away.
Cheney's wide-ranging responsibilities left some wondering if he was really running the show.
ADELMAN: They'd never seen a vice president who had so large a portfolio in terms of domestic, congressional and international issues.
JONATHAN MANN: But just a few short months into their term, another health scare. Cheney was rushed to the hospital for an emergency angioplasty.
NANCY GIBBS, SENIOR EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: There was quiet betting on Capitol Hill about whether he would be able to serve out his term, much less be available to run for a second one.
JONATHAN MANN: It was a tense moment, but Cheney was back at work just days later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See you later.
JONATHAN MANN: Adding to his stress, accounting irregularities at Halliburton surfaced. Investigators said they occurred during the time Cheney was CEO.
CARNEY: Cheney became something of a liability in that he couldn't be used when the White House needed an effective economic spokesman to go out and talk about or take questions on the economy because those questions would inevitably focus on his years at Halliburton.
BUSH: Enough refined product.
JONATHAN MANN: There was speculation that Bush might replace Cheney on the 2004 ticket. But September 11 changed all that. Cheney was whisked off to an undisclosed location to begin planning the U.S. response.
THOMAS MANN: I think it was particularly important to Bush and his political advisers that the president be front and center and not the vice president in dealing with the threats and challenges.
JONATHAN MANN: But Cheney began exerting a quiet but strong influence on U.S. foreign policy. CARNEY: What is being called the Bush doctrine is actually something that Dick Cheney has been working on for more than 10 years. When he was secretary of defense in the first Bush administration, he and some key aides, who are now working in this Bush administration, developed a defense strategy that back then was considered like right- wing lunacy because it was so aggressive. It contained this idea of preemption. It contained the idea of, that the U.S. is the sole global superpower, should actively prevent the rise of other competitive, hostile powers.
JONATHAN MANN: This new preemptive approach put forth by the man who had troops stop short of Baghdad in 1991 put America at war with Iraq and set off alarm bells internationally. Cheney pushed for ousting Saddam Hussein with or without international support. But once the war in Iraq was under way, the architect of the plan was conspicuously absent.
JOSHUA MARSHALL, "THE WASHINGTON MONTHLY": When it seemed uncertain how the military campaign was going, his earlier hawkishness and optimism about how quickly the war would go seemed a little iffy. And that may be one of the reasons he kept out of sight.
JONATHAN MANN: Then, another setback. Word leaked out that the administration secretly awarded Halliburton, Cheney's former company, a contract in post-war Iraq worth hundreds of millions of dollars. From the outside, the deal looked suspect.
MARSHALL: When you have a vice president who is a former executive for a company that is now being given big contracts for a war that, you know, that the vice president was a big supporter of, the appearance of impropriety is sort of impossible to miss.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good-bye, Saddam.
JONATHAN MANN: The fall of Baghdad could not have come soon enough for the vice president. Mere hours after the statue of Saddam came down, Cheney came out in public and effectively declared victory.
CHENEY: The conclusion of the war will mark one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted.
JONATHAN MANN: A moment of vindication for Cheney. Whether Cheney's doctrine will be vindicated is still being played out in post-war Iraq. Regardless of the outcome, Cheney has proved throughout his 40 years in politics he will survive.
SIMPSON: He is an ambulatory heat shield. He can come through the atmosphere with sparks flying out all sides and over the top and he lands with a smile unscathed, dapper, smiling that wry smile like I've just been through that and it wasn't too bad. He'll take all heat. He'll take it all.
ZAHN: If you needed any more proof that Vice President Cheney has long been the consummate political number two, consider this. During the Ford administration in the '70s, Mr. Cheney's Secret Service code name was "Back Seat."
ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, the wildcard in Washington's showdown with North Korea, Kim Jong Il. That's next.
ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
His name is Kim Jong Il, but to his people he is simply known as Great Leader; Kim is the absolute ruler of North Korea, reclusive and eccentric. But North Korea's blunt claim last week that he does indeed have at least one nuclear weapon has thrust this isolated state and its mysterious leader back onto the world stage.
With our profile of Kim Jong Il, here again is Jonathan Mann.
MANN (voice-over): North Korea, a state shrouded in mystery and ruled by an enigmatic dictator. But beneath the bluster and pageantry, a nation in distress, the company depends heavily on foreign aid for survival. And Kim Jong Il, the man North Koreans reverently call the great leader, stands defiant as the U.S. brands him part of the axis of evil.
BUSH: We've got people starving to death because the nation chooses to build weapons of mass destruction.
MANN: North Korea blames the U.S. for the most recent tensions.
PAK GIL YON, NORTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR, U.N.: Under such constant stress of the military aggression on the part of the United States, our people and our army fully ready or they should be ready to defend our sovereignty.
MANN: Kim Jong Il boosts the world's fourth largest army, and a history of arming any country willing to pay, states, including Iran and Syria.
JAMES LILLEY, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR, SOUTH KOREA: That is a real danger, putting nuclear weapons and long-range missiles and biological and chemical warfare in the hands of terrorists or nations that hate the United States.
MANN: Since the end of the Korean War, troops from North and South Korea have stood eyeball to eyeball along the uneasy DMZ; also standing guard in the peninsula, some 37,000 U.S. troops.
The stakes have gotten higher. In a thee-way meeting with the U.S. and China, Kim's government announced it has at least one nuclear weapon. Ever since North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in January, heightened tensions and new fears have gripped the Korean Peninsula. At the center of it all, the world's last Stalinist leader.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: He is complete product of a Communistic Marxist society, raised in a father who believed in it, living in an environment in which there is a mega personality cult.
MANN: A personality cult started by Kim's father, the first North Korean leader, Kim Il-Sung.
MIKE CHINOY, CNN SENIOR ASIA CORRESPONDENT: In many ways, North Korea resembles a religious cult as much as a country in which life of ordinary people is organized around mass worship of the Great Leader.
JEROLD POST, FMR. CIA ANALYST: One of the challenging aspects of trying to profile Kim Jong Il is separating the man from the myth.
MANN: The man sports a bouffant hair-do, elevator shoes and jump suits.
POST: He has great insecurity about himself personally. He's only 5'2, weighs a roly-poly, 175 pounds. Wears a four-inch lift in his shoes.
MANN: But in the capitol city, Pyongyang, Kim takes on mythical proportions. Officially, Kim Jong Il was born on a sacred Korean mountaintop, amid rainbows and bright stars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was not. He was born probably in the Soviet Union when his father was a major in the Soviet army.
MANN: Major Kim Il Sung organized guerrilla warfare against the Japanese in World War II. The family was Korean but lived in Siberia during the war. At the war's end, the Soviet Union controlled Northern Korea and put Kim Il Sung in charge. In 1950, Kim Il Sung launched an invasion of South Korea. He expected victory in six months. U.S. and United Nations' forces came to the south's aid, pushing the invading army back up to the Chinese border. China jumped into the fight for the North. After three years and two million dead, the war reached a stalemate. The invasion failed, but North Korea's strong man learned a lesson.
DR. KONGDAN OH, INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE ANALYSES: He basically swore to himself these Americans superior air power and these American superior military power, this is my sworn enemy. And we have to build our military to fight against these bad guys.
MANN: Kim Jong Il was about ten years old at after the end of the war. He watched his father rebuild the military, seal off the country and preach a philosophy called Juche.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Juche is the philosophy of self-reliance. It appeals to the Korean sense of the hermit kingdom. We don't need anybody else. We only rely on ourselves.
MANN: The philosophy called for self-reliance, though, the Soviets and China propped up the economy. Most North Koreans led austere lives but not Kim Jong Il.
POST: He was told from earlier on that he was the sort of god in effect, a daunting challenge.
MANN: In 1964, he graduated from Kim Il-Sung University with a political economy degree. Though intelligent, the timid graduate was a far cry from his formidable father.
OH: Inquiry and we have expressions, "tiger father and dog son." So, he felt like he is a dog son in compared to his tiger father.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a first hand story that he came into one of the meetings fairly drunk and his father made him sit in the corner and then dismissed him. But it's clear that although his father didn't treat him well all the time, this was the anointed leader and this is the man that was going to succeed him.
MANN: In 1980, Kim's father officially named his son his successor. For the next decade, Kim rotated through various government positions in preparation for the top job. In July of 1994, Kim Il-Sung died of a heart attack. North Koreans sobbed in the streets as Kim Jong Il took his father's place as head of state.
When we come back, filling his father's shoes, the eccentric world of Kim Jong Il.
ALBRIGHT: The reading that is available in the west makes you believe that he is not only ruthless, but kind of perverted and peculiar.
ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
MANN (voice-over): Call it Jim Jong Il's coming out party. In October of 2000, the then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the highest-ranking American ever to visit North Korea. Kim put on quite a performance.
ALBRIGHT: I thought to myself at that time, it takes a dictator to make 100,000 people dance in steps. Kim Jong Il said that everybody had volunteered to do this. Big grain of salt there. And that he himself had taken a personal interest in the dancing and the color of the costumes and the various production numbers. And later at a dinner, he said that he would really have loved to have been a movie director.
MANN: Movies apparently do color his world. Some of his favorites: James Bond, "Friday the 13th" slasher films, and Daffy Duck.
POST: He is fascinated with the media. Reportedly, has a collection of 20,000 videotapes, which many have said, shape his view of the West. MANN: That fascination with film led to a bizarre kind of crime. In 1978, the kidnapping of a South Korean director and his actress wife to make movies.
POST: When he first met her, he said to her, well Madame Choy. You must be surprised to see they I resemble the droppings of a midget. So there's a lot of insecurity, not just politically, but personally.
MANN: In 1986, the couple slipped away from their guards while shooting a film in Vienna. They were free after eight years of captivity. But other kidnappings ended differently. Last September, at a summit with the Japanese Prime Minister, Kim admitted that in the '70s, North Korea sent teams into Japan to seize a dozen of its citizens. According to his explanation, it was to teach North Korean agents to speak Japanese. According to his account, most of the captives have since died.
Western intelligence also blames Kim for bombings. In 1983 attempt on the life of South Korea's president had barely missed him, and killed 17 of his officials. And in 1987, the bombing a South Korean jet that killed 115 people; an apparent effort to scare tourists away from the upcoming Seoul '88 Olympic games. Over the last decade, Kim's own people have suffered. A U.S. congressional report estimates two million starve to death in the last ten years.
YON: We will overcome such a difficulties one after another, and by the mobilizing all of the efforts of our people. And of course, we are receiving a number of the international organization's humanitarian assistance.
CHINOY: It got so bad that a very proud government, which has had a philosophy of Juche, or self-reliance, and not asking for anything for the rest of world, was forced in an unprecedented step to ask for international food aid.
MANN: But for Kim, there is plenty to eat and enjoy.
POST: Just one example of this extravagance. The Hennessey Cognac manufacturers have confirmed that his annual bill from Hennessey runs between $650,000 and $720,000 for their most expensive Cognac, which is called Paradis.
MANN: How does Kim stay in power? Critics say he takes a firm hand with any opposition.
LILLEY: And if anybody takes him on, we've heard about their gulag. They are gigantic. It's holocaust stuff. You don't cross this guy. Or you're dead.
MANN: A starving people, a failed state, but more than a million men under arms. Reserved troops add nearly five million more. North Korean missiles can easily reach South Korea and Japan, and may soon be in striking distance of Alaska.
LILLEY: He hasn't got anything to export in terms of ideology or material achievement. The only thing he has is military. And he is expressed a willingness to use this. Turn Seoul into a sea of fire; turn Washington into a sea of fire. This kind of talk he makes, as people make, and you've got to pay attention to it.
MANN: Washington is paying attention.
Coming up, a nuclear crisis and new dangers posed by Kim Jong Il.
ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
MANN (voice-over): With an ironclad grip, Kim Jong II reigns over this mysterious society, rarely seen by foreigners. Controlling every aspect of life in North Korea, he is the god-like center of a cult of personality so strong, ordinary citizens sob and scream at the mere thought of their Great Leader. Loyalty is paramount here, even among a population suffering through drought and famine.
POST: He regularly talks to the Korean people about the need to sacrifice, to pursue their goals of Juche, which means self-reliance.
MANN: Although the North Korean leader has had to get help from foreigners. In return for concessions on North Korea's developing nuclear program, Kim Jong II received massive food and oil shipments from the U.S. and open dialogue between some of his former foes in Asia. But for the most part, he and his country have stayed in the shadows. But then in January of last year, the hermit kingdom was thrust into the spotlight on not so flattering terms. President Bush put North Korea on America's most wanted list.
BUSH: North Korea has a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens. States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.
MANN: While Iraq and Iran were obvious to be branded enemy states of the U.S., the inclusion of North Korea caught many off guard. Including Kim Jong Il himself.
OH: Those three words, Axis of Evil may have more of a bombshell impact on Kim Jong II's anger and mentality, and his perception toward the new administration more than anything else.
MANN: But it wasn't just North Korea that objected to President Bush's rhetoric.
ROH MOO HYUN, PRESIDENT, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): To call North Korea an Axis of Evil is to take a position that would invite a significant danger to the Korean peninsula.
MANN: But the administration quickly moved to justify its stance and put the blame squarely on Kim Jong Il and his country's policies. CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It is the most aggressive and spreading ballistic missile technology around the world. It is the chief merchant. It's the place that you go if you want to buy ballistic missile technology.
MANN: In October of last year, the U.S. said North Korea admitted to having a secret nuclear weapons program. The North Koreans responded angrily.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Democratic People's Republic of Korea will immediately revive the old Soviet-designed nuclear reactor and resume construction of other nuclear facilities.
MANN: North Korea says it was the United States that forced its hand by cutting off aid shipments of food and oil.
CHINOY: The evidence from leaks from the CIA, American intelligence is that it was in the last two years that the North really moved forward on the uranium program. And it was the admission by North Korea to American officials last fall that they had this program and American demands that the North stop and U.S. pressure on North Korea to force them to stop, that triggered the chain of events that led to the current crisis.
MANN: But why would Kim Jong II risk the wrath of the world's military superpower?
LILLEY: Attention, money, food, energy, recognition. The earlier stages of bargaining is to put on what we call opera for the world. People will get intimidated. People were intimidated in 1993- 94. He came out of that thing with a bucket of gold worth $5 billion. Try it again.
MANN: It's a test of U.S. diplomacy. In the midst of the bluster at last month's meeting in China, a glimmer of hope.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The North Koreans acknowledge a number of things that they were doing, and in effect said these are now up for further discussion. They did put forward a plan that would ultimately deal with their nuclear capability and their missile activities. But they of course, expect something considerable in return.
MANN: North Korea expects considerable economic assistance in return for their cooperation, but time is running out.
CHINOY: There's a very limited time frame after which the United States and the rest of world will have to face the prospect of a North Korea with a genuine nuclear weapons capability.
MANN: The CIA estimates the one or two nuclear devices are already in Kim Jong II's possession could grow to half a dozen within just six months. But would he launch a nuclear attack?
OH: As a matter of fact, North Korean leader is smart and strategic and brilliant. I don't think he's stupid to use nuclear bomb for any country, because he knows that by triggering one bomb means the end of North Korea.
JAMES WOLFSTHAL, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INT'L PEACE: The concern is that North Korea could turn into a kind of nuclear K-Mart, where they could sell nuclear material to Iran, who they also sold ballistic missiles, to other countries such as Syria and Libya also a purchasing of North Korean equipment. Or even God forbid, to small subnational group, al Qaeda, other terrorist organizations.
MANN: But for now, the outcome remains in the hands of this unpredictable complicated leader.
ZAHN: That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Thanks so much for joining us.
Coming up next week, Osama bin Laden. Still wanted. Still missing. I'm Paula Zahn. Hope to see you next time.
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