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Leadership Change in North Korea; Match Fixing Arrests

Aired December 19, 2011 - 16:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Mourning for their dear leader -- the death of Kim Jung-il sends North Koreans into shock and alarms an entire region.

Tonight, we'll ask what now for the reclusive state?

Live from London, I'm Max Foster.

Also tonight, the images fanning the flames of unrest, as Egyptian security forces are caught on camera beating a woman protester.

And a World Cup star is arrested in Italy in a match fixing investigation which spreads far beyond its borders.

We begin, though, a with new era in North Korea, as leadership president passes from a repressive strongman to a youthful unknown. Countries all over the world are taking stock tonight of the death of Kim Jung-il, trying to determine what it could mean for the stability of the region, and, indeed, the entire world.

A tearful anchor broke the news on North Korean state TV on Monday morning, saying Kim died of a heart attack at the age of 69.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm announcing in the most woeful mind that our great leader, Kim Jung-il, passed away due to a sudden illness on his way to a field guidance on December 17, 2011.


FOSTER: Well, state media also aired pictures of people stricken with grief, wailing and pounding their fists in anguish.


FOSTER: Broadcasters are urging North Koreans to rally behind Kim Jong-un, calling him the great successor. Kim Jung-il's youngest son is taking over a nuclear-armed nation with no known military background nor any experience on the world stage.

Perhaps no country is more anxious over North Korea's uncertain future than its neighbor to the south. After all, South Korea is still technically at war with Pyongyang. We'll have a live report from Seoul in just a few minutes.

First, though, Dan Rivers has more on the death of the leader who often seems larger than life.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kim Jong-il always cut a slightly bizarre figure. His diminutive stature and characteristic hair were parodied by some in the West. But for the citizens of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Kim was the embodiment of this reclusive state. -- feared, loved, worshipped, obeyed, his cult of personality was deeply entrenched.

His father was Kim Il-sung, who founded North Korea with Soviet backing after World War II. Kim Jong-il was just a little boy when the Korean War broke out in 1950, with the Soviet-backed North invading the American backed South.

After the fighting ended, Kim Jong-il became steeped in his father's philosophy of Juche, or self-reliance. And the North became ever more reclusive.

The North and South never formally signed a peace treaty and remain technically at war, separated by a tense demilitarized zone. Gradually, Kim Jong-il was groomed for the top, making public appearances in front cheering crowds.

When Kim Il-sung died in 1994, he was declared eternal president. So his son instead became general secretary of the Ruling Workers Party of Korea. And by 1998, as head of the army, he consolidated his position of absolute power.

ANDRE LANKOV, NORTH KOREA ANALYST: He will be remembered as a person who was responsible for awful things, for the existence of one of the worst dictatorships in probably not only Korean history, but in the world history, at least in the 21st century.

Yet he did not create the dictatorship. It was father's. But he took responsibility and he made sure that it continued for many year years.

RIVERS: He was known for his love of fine wines, at odds in a country where food shortages and privation were common. While the Dear Leader, as he became known, is said to have indulged in his appetite for the finer things, his people were literally starving to death.

The collapse of the Soviet Union hit North Korea hard, suddenly ending guaranteed trade deals. And then devastating floods compounded the famine. Estimates vary for the number that died, but even the regime itself admitted that almost a quarter of a million perished between 1995 and 1998. Some say it was more like ten times that figure.

But in the capital of Pyongyang, the artifice of a successful state was maintained -- an opulent subway proof, the dear leader would say, of the DPRK's progress under his and his father's leadership.

Kim Jong-il was well known as a film buff, here visiting the set of a North Korean production. His personal video library was said to include 20,000 titles, with "Rambo" and "Friday the 13th" supposedly topping the Dear Leader's favorite flicks.

In 2000, there appeared to be a thaw in North/South relations, the first-ever summit between Kim Jong-il and his then counterpart from the South, President Kim Dae-Jung. The South's so-called sunshine policy of engagement seemed to be bearing fruit.

But Kim Jong-il pressed ahead with his nuclear weapons program. The U.S. Labeled it as part of the axis of evil in 2002. A year later, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

In 2006, the North conducted a nuclear test and test fired missiles. It added extra urgency to the six-party talks, designed to deal with North Korea's nuclear program.

A breakthrough came in 2007, when Kim Jong-il finally agreed to disable the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, in return for fuel and better relations with the U.S.

But despite dramatically blowing up the cooling tower, North Korea seemed to backtrack afterwards. The deal appeared to be in jeopardy. The capture of two U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, on the North Korean border sparked another crisis in 2009.

It ended when former President Bill Clinton flew in and successfully negotiated their release, prompting hopes there would be further engagement.

Observers say Kim Jong-il will be remembered as a nearly impossible man to bargain with, stubborn and fickle in equal measure, a man who kept 23 million people in a totalitarian nightmare, in one of the most repressive, reclusive regimes in the world.

Dan Rivers, CNN.


FOSTER: Well, South Korea has put its military on high alert and increased monitoring along its border with the North. The government also held emergency meetings -- security meetings whilst urging its people to stay calm.

Our Anna Coren is in Seoul tonight -- and, Anna, if you can, just describe the atmosphere there. I guess it's the uncertainty that worries people so much.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Max, that's exactly right. It is the uncertainty, with the lev -- the death of Kim Jong-il. His son, Kim Jong- un, is now in power. He is a young man in his late 20s. He has little experience. He has little credibility and he really has only had a few years, if that, under his father's wing -- really very little preparation to take on this enormous job.

Shinn South Korea, people are wondering whether this young man has a cool head, whether he can proceed, engage in international dialogue, because, Max, we -- we gained a bit of an insight just in the last few hours as to what Kim Jong-il was thinking. The U.S. State Department has confirmed that U.S. officials were supposed to make -- visit North Korean officials on Monday. And in that meeting, the U.S. was going to announce a -- a large distribution of food aid in exchange for North Korea suspending its uranium enrichment program.

Now, North Korea was apparently prepared to go along with that. They're also going to allow an international inspectors into North Korea to inspect its nuclear sites.

So if that had proceeded, if Kim Jung-il was alive, that would obviously be very big news, Max.

But, obviously, with the death of Kim Jung-il, those talks have been suspended. The U.S. State Department says that it will respect this period of mourning. However, it does say that they are now in jeopardy.

But let's have a listen to -- to what some of the people we caught up with here in Seoul feel about the death of Kim Jung-il.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really have any initial feeling, but since he's a bad person, I think it's good that it happened. I guess later on, if we see changes in the economy, I may feel a bit differently about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel great about it. It feels like something struck in my throat just went down. I'd always felt bad for the North Koreans. So I think from our point of view, it's great news.


COREN: So certainly a -- a mixed response there in how people are feeling.

But at the end of the day, Max, people in South Korea just want stability. They want life to continue as normal. So that will -- we'll have to wait and see what the days bring -- Max.

FOSTER: Anna, thank you very much, indeed, for that.

Here's a look at some of the reaction from around the world.

And North Korea's biggest ally, China, is offering its condolences, calling Kim Jung-il a close friend. It also says it hopes the two countries can continue their cooperative relationship.

Japan, Korea's former colonial ruler, is also offering its condolences to North Korea, whilst taking precautions. The government in Tokyo called an emergency security meeting shortly after the news.

The United States, meantime, is urging a peaceful and stable transition in North Korea. Military leaders say so far, at least, they've seen no cause for alarm.


GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: No changes in readiness levels. We're simply remaining vigilant and relying upon our lenders in -- in South Korea and engaging them with their South Korean allies. To this point, we have not seen any change in North Korean behavior of a -- of a nature that would alarm us.


FOSTER: Well, we didn't know much about Kim Jung-il, but we know even less about his successor. Kim Jung-Un is his youngest son, believed to be in his late '20s. The presumptive heir and future leader was only introduced to North Koreans publicly last year. He has no known military service, but was appointed a four star general last year. He also holds key posts in North Korea's National Defense Commission and the Worker Party central committee, both powerful in the communist regime.

It's believed that as a boy, Kim Jung-Un attended boarding school in Switzerland and then the Kim Il-Sung Military Academy, named for his grandfather in Pyongyang.

Now, CNN has spoken to a man who says he was a classmate of Kim Jung- Un in Switzerland. Joao Micaelo was 13 when they met. He says he was told the new kid was the son of North Korea's ambassador, but he believes it was actually Kim Jong-un.


JOAO MICAELO, SAYS HE WAS CLASSMATE OF KIM JONG-UN: He was very quiet. He didn't speak with anyone. Maybe it was because that most of the people, they don't take the tie to understand him. For him, he -- he didn't like to lose. Like everyone I like -- of us. For him, it was a...

A (INAUDIBLE) it was everything. He liked the same things as what every -- every teenager liked.


FOSTER: Well, for some perspective on where North Korea might now be heading after the leadership challenge, I talked earlier with Jim White.

He's vice president of the program operations for Mercy Corps.

He recently was involved in negotiations with several North Korean delegations to the US.

And I began by asking him, is the successor really a done deal?


JIM WHITE, VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAM OPERATIONS, MERCY CORPS: I think it probably is a done deal. But there are some possibilities where this could go off the rails. I think they're unlikely. But since, you know, North Korea continues to be the most closed, least understood country in the world, it's probably a good idea not to have too much confidence in any one scenario or prediction.

So what are some of the other possibilities?

It may be that there could be palace intrigue, that some of the other children or -- or relations to Kim Jung-il may feel like they should be the rightful heir rather than Kim Jung-Un and there might be some competition there.

It might be that the -- the regent, Kim Jung-il's brother-in-law, who was appointed to sort of take care of the young Kim, be his mentor, be his guide, much the way a regent would work in the Medieval period, when you had kings and princes, it may be that the regent, Mr. Song, kind of likes that position. Maybe he likes the idea of exercising power. Maybe he's going to be reluctant to give it up. That would be another possible faction that could -- factionalism that could take place.

And then finally, there's always the question about the role of the military. It's a military-first society. That is their slogan. The military probably enjoys being the top dog in that society. And it may be that they feel an interest in governing if they don't have confidence or are unhappy with young Kim's policies.

But these are all speculations. I think if you're a betting man, you're going to bet that odds are that the young Kim, with the support of others, will take power and consolidate his position at some point.

FOSTER: If you would, just speak to these pictures we've had today of people weeping, North Koreans weeping so openly and so passionately.

Are those real tears?

Just explain that to people outside North Korea, because it's hard to understand.

WHITE: Yes. We have seen this before. We saw this with the passing of Kim's father, Kim Il-sung, when he died in the 1990s. You know, I'm sure some of it is for show and some of it is heartfelt. My Korean friends tell me that the Korean people are an emotional people who have a big heart and strong feelings. And for many of these people, that's all they've known growing up is -- is the Kim family, from cradle to grave, in every aspect of their lives. Up until maybe the famine of the 1990s, every aspect of their lives was controlled by the state.

So I'm -- I -- I assume that some people genuinely feel this way. Others may find it opportune to go along with it.

FOSTER: And outside Korea, a lot of concern about nations being under threat as a result of all this uncertainty.

Which countries are rightfully feeling the fear right now?

WHITE: Well, I actually think, in some ways, the country that has the most to lose and has the most to fear is probably North Korea. It's the weakest country. It's the one with the fewest ties, the fewest friends. And the concern here, my concern is that they'll -- that we might enter a period where there's a chance of conflict, not a war that anyone seeks. North Korea doesn't want to fight a war. It knows it's -- it knows it will lose a war if it fights a war. South Korea doesn't want a war.

But, unfortunately, in world history, wars sometimes happen even when none of the parties want them. And that means World War II, for example. You can have an accident. You could have a crisis that begins to escalate. There can be miscalculation or misperception.

And I think it means that the peninsula is a very dangerous place. You know, I'm not predicting war at all. War is always unlikely on any given day. But the chances of it have increased from yesterday to today. And that means -- that's bad news for South Korea. It's bad news for North Korea. It's bad news for the 28,000 U.S. troops, men and women, who are serving in South Korea, as well as for China and others in the region.

So I think everyone is a little nervous about what's happening right now and they're not sure what direction things will take.


FOSTER: Speaking there to Jim Walsh. now, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Still to come, North Korea may have a strong military, but it doesn't have enough food to feed its 25 million citizens. We'll speak to an aide worker just back from the country about what he saw there.

Also on the program, the death toll rises as the Philippines deals with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Washi.

And the allegations that rocked the British press -- we look back on the biggest media scandal of the year.


FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with CNN, the world's news leader. welcome back.

Here's a look at some other stories connecting our world this hour.

An a west -- arrest warrant -- has been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is accused of orchestrating bombing attacks. Iraq's interior ministry says some of al-Hashemi's security guards have confessed on video to carrying out attacks under his direct orders. Three of the vice president's security guards were detained earlier this month.

Syria has signed an agreement with the Arab League aimed at ending violence between protesters and government forces. Syria will allow monitors into the country after the Arab League warned it might ask the U.N. Security Council to intervene. The opposition accuses the regime of playing games and buying time by signing the resolution.

One of Egypt's military leaders blames protesters for the wave of violence that has swept through the capital. At least two more demonstrators were killed today in clashes with police and security forces. It is the fourth day of violence in Cairo and the death toll stands at 13.

Speaking earlier on Monday, General Adel Emara blamed the violence on a rogue group of demonstrators.


GEN. ADEL EMARA, SUPREME COUNCIL OF THE ARMED FORCES (through translator): After they started attacking soldiers, spreading rumors that the army is attacking demonstrators, these demonstrators can't be the same demonstrators, pure demonstrators that started the revolution on the 25th of January. These are definitely not the pure people. These demonstrators are aiming to burn down institutions and destroy.


FOSTER: We'll have much more on the recent violence plus the shocking pictures of riot police attacking a woman later in the show.

A deadly storm, meanwhile, in the Southern Philippines has killed more than 900 people, according to disaster officials. The -- the local Red Cross confirms more than 700 are dead. Hundreds of others are missing after Tropical Storm Washi swept away entire villages over the weekend. Many people were washed away by flash floods as they slept. Survivors in the worst hit areas have no electricity or clean drinking water.

The funeral for the former Czech president, Vaclav Havel, is set for Friday. The coffin is now on display at a Central Prague church after he died on Sunday at the age of 75. Havel was revered in his homeland as a voice of dissent during the communist years. He was jailed in the late 1970s and early '80s, but he became a key figure in Czechoslovakia's peaceful Velvet Revolution and then president after communism collapsed.

Britain's Prince William and his wife, Catherine, hit the gav -- the - - the -- hit the down tonight for a military awards ceremony at London's Imperial War Museum. The duchess wore a -- a full length black velvet gown by Alexander McQueen, the same designer she wore on her wedding day. She and her husband were joined by Prince Harry and a host of other famous faces, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and footballer David Beckham.

Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD for you, a former Italian football captain under arrest as sports authorities crack down on match fixing. We'll have the details next.


FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Welcome back.

I'm Max Foster.

Now, authorities in Italy have arrested 17 people as part of an operation to eradicate match fixing in professional sports. Former Atalanta captain, Cristiano Doni, and 16 others, were taken into custody as part of an ongoing investigation in several Italian cities. And most of the matches were under scrutiny in Italy's Serie B Division.

Alex joins us now with more on this.

It's quite complicated on the face of it.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It does. It's the latest of a series of arrests that we first heard about in the summer earlier this year, when amongst people arrested then were Giuseppe Signori, who is a former Italy international.

Even now, with Cristiano Doni, none of these names household names outside of Italy, if you like. But still significant players in Italian football.

And it's all about, the crux of it is believing in sports. And if you don't believe that what you're seeing is real and there's been some sort of arrangement going on, then it's really going to shatter the whole sporting world, because, of course, this has implications beyond just Italy and beyond just football, which is something, a point that was made by Italian football writer, Tancredi Palmeri, to us a little bit earlier today.

Take a listen to what he had to say.


TANCREDI PALMERI, ITALIAN FOOTBALL JOURNALIST: This can involve, also, other leagues, not only Italian. The investigators today said that they will investigate about Italian football because they are Italian investigators. They know for sure that there are games in Argentina and Bolivia involved and they have to factor they're also up -- on other European leagues, including German leagues and French leagues.


THOMAS: Yes, UEFA, European football's governing body, are well aware of this problem, as are FIFA, the world governing body, trying to tackle it as far as football is concerned.

In Italy, it's very high profile because of scandals down the years, most notably back in 2005-2006, when amongst the clubs accused of trying to arrange for friendly referees of certain games were the Italian champions themselves, Juventus, who were demoted down to Italy's second division.

But we've seen it in cricket, as well, most recently featured on -- on this show, Max, of course.

So it's something that all sports governing bodies throughout the world are aware of. In this particular case, the criminals are thought to have started in Singapore, but apparently people are connected with this network throughout the world. So it has huge implications.

FOSTER: OK, Alex, thank you very much, indeed, for that.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, now that Kim Jung-il is gone, North Korea's neighbors are on high alert for military movement. We'll look at the country's nuclear capabilities straight ahead.

Then, the shocking images that are fueling anger in Egypt as the country travels along a long and bumpy road to democracy.

And a look back on this year's media scandal, which saw Rupert Murdoch grilled by British politicians.


FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. Time now for a check of the world headlines for you.

The international community is watching to see how a leadership change will affect one of the most reclusive nations in the world. State media in North Korea say King -- Kim Jong-il has died of a heart attack and will be replaced by his youngest son, Kim Jong-un.

The Iraqi government has issued an arrest warrant for Vice President Tariq Al Hashemi. The Interior Ministry says some of his bodyguards confessed to carrying out bombing attacks under Al Hashemi's orders.

Two more people are dead in a four -- in a fourth straight day of clashes in Cairo. Thirteen people have been killed since Friday. Government officials say hundreds were injured on both sides of the clashes.

Syria has signed an Arab League proposal aimed at ending violence. The plan calls for Syria to allow international observers into the country. Syria's foreign minister said he advised President Bashar al-Assad that signing the pact was in the country's national interest.

ECB chief Mario Draghi says he has no doubts that the euro can survive the current crisis. He told a European parliament committee he believes in the currency's permanence and strength.

Those are the headlines this hour.

Now, as North Korea's -- North Koreans mourn the death of Kim Jong-il, leaders around the world are watching the country carefully for an signs of a shift in its nuclear policy. And as CNN's Kyung Lah reports, North Korea's closest neighbors are already on high alert.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Major concerns around the world right now that Kim Jong-il's death could trigger a nuclear crisis. The North Korean regime has long used a nuclear threat as a bargaining chip with the West. In the past five years, the regime has conducted underground nuclear tests twice, and North Korean media claims the country will become a full nuclear weapons state in 2012.

LAH (on camera): Here's why this is such a major concern. Here's a closer look at the region. China's over here, here's the Korean peninsula and Japan.

Take a closer look at just the Korean peninsula and Japan, and you can see how close Pyongyang is to Tokyo. That's only about as far apart as New York to Chicago.

And if you go a little bit closer and just look at the Korean peninsula, this is where the DMZ is, the 38th parallel. Seoul is about an hour's drive south of the DMZ. The distance between Pyongyang and Seoul? That's only about as far apart as New York to Boston.

Some two million troops are stationed here, both in the North and the South, and among them, 75,000 US troops, all bound by treaty to defend its allies.

LAH (voice-over): Analysts say the concern is what happens if North Korea were to launch a ballistic missile at Seoul or at Tokyo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing that I'm concerned about is that the first sign, first news of some sort of instability within North Korea, it will raise all sorts of alarm bells here and in Seoul about who has control of the nuclear weapons. And that's obviously a big concern for the United States.

LAH: Now, the US and North Korea's neighbors have tried for years through talks and sanctions to convince the North to end its pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.

There have been some signs of progress, like in 2008, North Korea destroyed a water cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear facility. But talks broke down soon after that.

Now, with Kim's death, it's unclear what will happen to any negotiations. South Korea's president put the country's military on high alert while urging his people to stay calm.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO: South Korea has to be concerned, because North Korea provoked them in the last couple of years. They attacked an island, they attacked civilians, a ship.

So he's right to put them on military alert. But I think now is the time to just lie low, watch things as they develop.

LAH: Adding to the uncertainty, no one outside of North Korea truly knows the status of the hermit nation's nuclear arsenal.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Atlanta.


FOSTER: North Korea's fixation on nuclear weapons may be partly to explain for its dire economic situation. The US Central Intelligence Agency says military spending in North Korea sucks resources away from its 25 million civilians. Take a look at the numbers.

In North Korea, GDP was around $1800 per person in 2009. In South Korea, it's almost 20 times that. A South Korean analyst tells CNN the average family makes between $3 and $20 per month. And another analyst says as many as 80 percent of workers in government-run factories and facilities don't get paid at all.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer got to see for himself what it's like in North Korea when he was allowed in on a very rare visit almost exactly a year ago now. Here's part of his report.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The North Korean capital is a lot different than I thought. Take, for example, the subway system. It takes forever to get to the underground station. I never saw such long escalators, even longer than the ones at the Washington DC Metro. So deep that it could and does double as an underground bunker.

BLITZER (on camera): We're here at the Prosperity subway station. It's deep underground. You saw how long it takes to get through that -- those escalators. We are really, really deep underground.

Patriotic pictures all over the place. As we're speaking right now, also very patriotic music going on. It's the nature of Pyongyang and North Korea, a lot of the patriotism, a lot of propaganda music, and a lot of propaganda pictures all the time.

BLITZER (voice-over): New Mexico governor Bill Richardson's senior advisor is Tony Namkung. He has been to North Korea 40 times, going back to 1990.

BLITZER (on camera): All right, we're here on a subway train. It's still in the station, we're about to take off. We'll see where it goes. I have no idea where it goes. So far, so good.

Tony, what do you think about this subway?

TONY NAMKUNG, SENIOR ADVISER TO GOVERNOR RICHARDSON: It reminds me of an underground bomb shelter. It's so deep.

BLITZER: That's what I thought, yes.

NAMKUNG: It's a very colorful station with all the paintings and the color. It's very crowded for midday. A lot of people moving forwards, moving backwards.

BLITZER: Do people pay for these?


BLITZER: How do they -- I didn't see.

NAMKUNG: Five -- five won.

BLITZER: How much is that like in the US?

NAMKUNG: Well, it's very little.

BLITZER: Like a few pennies?

NAMKUNG: It's about a hundred won to a dollar now.

BLITZER: So it's like five cents.

NAMKUNG: Five cents.

BLITZER: So it's a nickel?

NAMKUNG: But most people use six-month passes, which they buy for about a hundred won.

BLITZER: So that's a dollar.

NAMKUNG: Just a dollar.


NAMKUNG: Very cheap.

BLITZER: So, a dollar they can basically ride for six months.

NAMKUNG: That's right, as much as they want.

BLITZER: That's a pretty good deal. All right, we're moving now. It's pretty smooth.

BLITZER (voice-over): But sometimes it goes dark. Electricity shortages are always a problem in North Korea.

We went to this high school where the students were in cold classrooms with overcoats. So cold you could see their breath. The rooms were not well lit.


FOSTER: Well, Wolf Blitzer reporting, there, with just a taste of life inside North Korea. But as you might imagine, he wasn't able to get a complete picture of how people live whilst on his government-supervised trip.

An international aid organization says under the surface, the humanitarian situation is dire. Food aid pours in every year, but the population still suffers from malnutrition and poor living standards -- living conditions.

Jim White from Mercy Corps was just in North Korea in September bringing emergency supplies after major flooding. He joins me, now, live from Portland, Oregon. Thanks so much for joining us.

If you can, paint a picture of what you saw there. We're going to bring in some photos, actually, from your visit.

JIM WHITE, VP OF PROGRAM OPERATIONS, MERCY CORPS (via telephone): Well, what we saw was a pretty dire situation for particularly vulnerable populations: young children, pregnant and lactating women, and the elderly.

These chronic food shortages that have happened in DPRK for many years now exacerbate -- get exacerbated by shocks, such as floods and cold winters or crop losses, and they cause people to move from what we would call chronic malnutrition, chronic malnourishment over to acute or starvation.

And we saw a number of cases of very sick children who were succumbing to waterborne diseases, infections, respiratory diseases due to their lack of nutrition and then the lack of needed medicines to care for them.

FOSTER: Horrific images, really, coming through of young children just lying on the floor being treated just because they're starving.

And what do they say about the leadership in the country? Because on the one hand, we see people wailing in the streets, upset about the death of Kim Jong-il, but when you see pictures like this, it's baffling.

WHITE: Well, I've not been there since the death of Kim Jong-il, so I can't say what people might be talking about or thinking there now, but I know that when we were there in September, and our organization, as well as a number of other organizations that worked there for years are very concerned that the people out, particularly in rural areas and some of the provincial towns are not able to access enough food.

DPRK is a net deficit country every year in food assistance. They neither can either buy it to bring it in, nor they get it from foreign bilateral resources or multilateral resources, such as the World Food Program or NGOs.

So, they have limited access to these goods out in the provincial areas, and it -- has very severe and dire consequences.

FOSTER: We're watching some video, there, from the World Food Program. Back with your pictures right now. A change in leadership in North Korea, is that positive or negative for your work?

WHITE: We really don't have any idea yet now. We don't know enough about what the changes are going to bring with the death of Kim Jong-il, and we can only hope that there could be some changes through diplomatic relations that allow for humanitarian assistance, in particular, and eventually maybe development assistance to get into the country and help the people.

FOSTER: OK. Well, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us with your insight, Jim, into the visit there to North Korea. One of the few people that's seen it firsthand.

Recapping our top story, the death of Kim Jong-il is raising anxiety and uncertainty about the future of that region and its effect on the world. His funeral is scheduled for the 28th of December, and the time between now and then, according to state-run media, is a period of national mourning.

We'll have more for you on this story as we get it, right here on CNN.

Lots more to come right here on CONNECT THE WORLD. Egypt's army lashes out at protesters as a fifth day of violence fast approaches. Just ahead, the shocking pictures of a woman being attacked, which is stoking the flames of unrest.


FOSTER: Egyptian police and protesters have clashed for a fourth straight day in Cairo. Three demonstrators were reported killed on Monday. That brings the four-day death toll to 14.

Images of military police officers stomping on a woman's exposed stomach has stoked anger amongst protesters. A warming before we show you these pictures: you will probably find them very disturbing.

Highlighted here, you can see the woman on the ground being dragged by riot police. She's then kicked as a group crowd around her.

These socking stills show the brutality of her treatment. Officers pull the woman's veil over her head, exposing her stomach and a bra. One riot policeman then even lifts his foot to stamp on her abdomen.

Now, Egypt's military council blames demonstrators for stoking the unrest. It says its forces have orders not to use violence. Mohammed Jamjoom joins me, now, from Cairo. Mohammed, who to believe?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, there have been so many eyewitness accounts, here, of violence, of protesters being targeted by members of the armed forces or security forces here. And we've seen so many videos purporting to show this violence is being committed against the protesters, as well.

What's interesting today, you have a presser given by SCAF, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. This is the military council that's been ruling Egypt since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, and they maintain that they are not targeting protesters. They blame what's going on on the protesters. They go so far as to say that the protesters had a plot today to try to burn down the parliament.

And at one point, General Adel Emara, who was speaking today on Egyptian state television, was saying that the protesters that had been outside the parliament a few days ago who had said they had been targeted, he was saying the security forces did not target them. Here's more of what the general had to say.


ADEL EMARA, GENERAL, SUPREME COUNCIL OF ARMED FORCES (through translator): The armed forces had secured the parliament and council headquarters from within. They have never intercepted any of the demonstrators outside. These heroes have practiced self-control, like the heroes that they have always been.


JAMJOOM: The protesters that have remained in Tahrir Square and the surrounding area, you see Tahrir Square just behind me, they are just -- they've been incredulous at these claims by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces today. They maintain that they have been targeted.

And the situation here remains volatile and remains tense. Even though there were clashes earlier in the day today, and then it seemed to quiet down, tonight we've heard shots ringing out. We've heard chanting. We've seen crowds gathering in this surrounding area.

So, it really looks as though this violence may be far from over, and it really worries people here as to what exactly comes next at time when elections are still going on, and when the government has been trying to put out a message that a civilian government here will be formed soon enough, and that is something that should be ameliorating the population of Egypt.

But here in Cairo, the mood is tense, and people seem very angry. Max?

FOSTER: And Mohammed, just talk us through this horrendous figure, if you could, because it's shocking so many people outside Egypt. I presume it's shocking people in Egypt, but how is it playing into those protests?

JAMJOOM: This video that you described earlier, which is really so horrific to watch, has caused so much anger here.

As you can imagine, in an Islamic country known, at times, for its conservatism, to see a woman being brutalized to this extent, not just being beaten, not just being dragged. Actually having her clothes torn off, her bare midriff, having it stomped upon by a member of the security forces -- outrage is the word that really comes to mind.

You've seen this outrage in the media, here. You've seen it by the population. And it's causing more people to come out into the streets.

In fact, tomorrow, there is a planned march solely for women who are very upset, not just by the brutalization they've seen happen to this woman in this tape, but the brutalization claims that have come from other women here in the city who say they've been targeted these past few days by the security forces. Max?

FOSTER: And Mohammed, from that period that you were reporting on, there was great hope when there was this revolution in Egypt. We're at this stage now. Is there any way you can sum up where we are in this process of revolution in Egypt?

JAMJOOM: It's a very tricky and complicated situation on the ground, here. A lot of mixed emotions. Here in Tahrir Square, the predominate mood is one of anger.

We're overlooking Tahrir Square. The protesters you speak to out there, they are committed to continue to come out. They say their revolution is far from over. They want the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces gone. They want the person who is leading that council gone. They want the prime minister gone.

They say that their revolution didn't achieve its goals as long as this military council is ruling this country, that in fact, the country has gone backwards. 9 You do find pockets of people here in Cairo who are happy with the military council and upset at the protesters. They say that this has now become a distraction, that the process of rebuilding can't go on, and they're unhappy that there are still people coming out day after day in Tahrir Square.

So, it's volatile, it's complicated. Nobody quite knows where it's going to go, but most of the people I speak with did not think that they would be looking at this situation that they're seeing today.

They say that when the revolution happened, when Hosni Mubarak was ousted, there was so much hope. They thought things were going to be better. Even at first when the military council was ruling.

Now, they see a lot of despair. The situation is very dire, and they just don't know where it's going to go. Max?

FOSTER: OK, Mohammed in Cairo. Thank you very much, indeed, for that. And for more on the recent violence, I'm joined by Dalia Ziada. She's a human rights activist and regional director for the American Islamic Congress. Thank you so much for joining us.

It does seem as though some -- there's a lack of control, now, in Egypt. What's -- what are you hearing, and how concerned are you about the human rights situation there right now?

DALIA ZIADA, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, AMERICAN ISLAMIC CONGRESS: Absolutely, it's clear to everyone that violence is on the rise. There is a lack of control over everything, including all of the behavior of the military, which is now the ruling regime.

There are a lot of confusion about who's right and who's wrong, or who's behind this. All the time, the military justifies this by saying there is some third party involved, while the people believe very much that the military is innocent.

And at the same time, the activists who are there, who are being beaten and stripped, even, the woman who -- I'm sure you've seen video -- beaten and humiliated by the military. They're not very well bad. The military is heavily involved. But there is a lot of confusion going on, and I think we are getting in the wrong way.

FOSTER: Dalia, thank you very much, indeed. We have to leave it there because of the problem with the sound, but appreciate your time.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, a look back on the year which saw the end of one of Britain's biggest tabloids.


FOSTER: An inquiry into press standards here in Britain has heard phone-hacking was routine at two tabloid newspapers. The brother of phone- hacking whistleblower, Sean Hoare, said journalists at "The Sun" and "The News of the World" were under pressure to write stories that would sell.

CNN's Piers Morgan, who's a former editor of "The News of the World" and "The Daily Mirror," is due to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry tomorrow.

Phone-hacking was one of the biggest scandals to hit the headlines this year. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch was forced to face accusations against his media company. But many questions are still to be answered. Here's Atika Shubert with a look back on the year which saw the end of one of Britain's biggest tabloids.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was not a good year for Rupert Murdoch. In July, dozens of reporters, including myself, camped out here, in front of British Parliament, where we watched an extraordinary sight: the powerful media mogul being grilled by lawmakers for the illegal activities of one of his British newspapers.

And he did so alongside his son and chief executive of News International, James Murdoch.

RUPERT MURDOCH, FOUNDER AND CEO, NEWS CORP: This is the most humble day of my life.

SHUBERT (voice-over): The humiliation didn't end there. A foam pie intended for Murdoch's face was stopped in its tracks by his wife, Wendi. Throughout, the 86-year-old media mogul seemed old and frail.

MURDOCH: I don't know. That is the first I've heard of that. I don't -- I can't answer. I don't know.

SHUBERT: A far cry from the young and ambitious man who bought Britain's oldest paper, "The News of the World," in 1969.

Murdoch made "The News of the World" the tabloid for raunchy headlines and racy scoops. It was the mostly widely-read weekly paper in Britain. But readers were shocked to discover the ruthless methods the tabloid used to gain scoops.

So, what turned the public? The news that the paper had hacked the phone mail messages of murdered 14-year-old Milly Dowler. Rupert Murdoch personally apologized to Milly's parents, but it wasn't enough to save the paper.

MURDOCH: Seven and a half million readers. This is for you.

SHUBERT: Remember this? This is the last edition of the once venerable "News of the World." The paper reported on the sinking of the Titanic. But it didn't survive the phone-hacking scandal.

SHUBER (on camera): Here in Britain, Murdoch's media empire now faces two inquiries and three criminal investigations, scrutiny that could make next year as painful as the last for Rupert Murdoch.


FOSTER: Atika Shubert reporting there from Westminster in London.

Now, in tonight's Parting Shots, mourners in the Czech Republic pay their respects to the former president, Vaclav Havel. His coffin is now on display at a church in central Prague.

Havel was an unlikely hero. A rock-and-roll-loving playwright who became president after leading a velvet revolution to topple communism. He went on to lead his country through extraordinary times, joining NATO, the European Union, and introducing a free-market economy, no less.

His funeral will be on Friday. Vaclav Havel died on Sunday at the age of 75.

I'm Max Foster, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you so much for watching. The world headlines and "BackStory" are up next after this short break.