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South Korean President Meets Putin in Russia; U.S., Russia Face Off Over Ukraine; Life in the DMZ

Aired September 6, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET


[14:00:!0] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR CNN HOST: Tonight, President Putin says the North Korean nuclear crisis might be impossible to solve amid fears that

Pyongyang is preparing more missile tests.

South Korea's presidential special adviser joins me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are scared, but we still do not believe in the future, you know, optimism.


AMANPOUR: Also ahead, a shocking take on Putin's Korea calculation. As author and historian Anne Applebaum's new book on Ukraine's famine puts

today's global crises in the crosshairs of history.

And what life is like for the South Korean village right on North Korea's doorstep.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Averting war on the Korean peninsula, the challenge confronting world leaders as President Donald Trump speaks by phone to his Chinese

counterpart and the Russian and South Korean presidents meet personally today.

President Vladimir Putin hosted his counterpart Moon Jae-in in Vladivostok, which is near Russia's borders with both China and North Korea. But while

the United States and its allies seek a united front and draconian new sanctions to pressure Pyongyang, President Putin is striking out on his own

with this warning.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We should not be emotional and push Korea into the corner. We should be cold-blooded and we

should avoid steps to escalate tension. Without political and diplomatic levels, this situation will be very difficult to resolve and I think even

impossible to do.


AMANPOUR: I put that directly to Chung In-Moon. He is the special national security adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in when he

joined me earlier from Seoul.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Moon, welcome to the program. Can I start by asking you, your president today met with President Putin? And President Putin said it

is no point in backing Kim Jong-un into a corner, and that without diplomacy, quote, "This whole situation may be impossible to resolve."

What do you make of that? Do you agree with him?

CHUNG IN-MOON, SPECIAL NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I agree with him, you know. We have employed all kinds of sanctions and pressures in North

Korea, but North Korea hasn't changed its behavior. I think there is still room for, you know, dialogue and negotiation and diplomacy.

AMANPOUR: Can you tell me where you see that room and should there be more sanctions like the tough oil sanctions the U.S. is talking about.

President Putin indicates that they will not get unanimous accord for something like that.

Where do you see room to change this dangerous situation?

MOON: I think there should be some kind of, you know, behind-the-curtain dialogue between the United States and North Korea to avoid catastrophic

outcome on the Korean peninsula. Therefore, it is very important for the U.S. and North Korea to begin employing some sort of diplomatic maneuvers

to diffuse the current crisis.

AMANPOUR: What would you recommend given that many would say, well, that's just basically giving into North Korean blackmail? Obviously, there needs

to be some kind of real diplomatic solution to this. But what do you suggest are the conditions, the carrots and the sticks?

MOON: North Korea should freeze its nuclear and missile activities at once. OK? And there is a rumor that North Korea might undertake the

cities of -- missile test launching and even seven nuclear testing. But that will bring about the disastrous outcomes.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you what you make of current U.S. policy to South Korea that President Trump has talked about appeasement. He said that on

Twitter. He's even talking about pulling out of a U.S.-South Korea trade agreement.

I mean, what signal is the United States sending in this crisis right now to your mind?

MOON: It was -- it is very much confusing and even threatening. But there are some signs of changes on the part of the United States. There is just

some report that the United States may not scrap the allocated U.S. free trading agreement. There might be some revision.

At the same time, about the issue of appeasement, now it is clear that the United States understand that South Korea has been taking sides with the

United States 100 percent therefore all this -- the tweeting of appeasement seems to be extremely misleading.

AMANPOUR: Can you tell me what plans there are for South Korea to potentially accept the deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons as has

been broadcast in your parliament by your own defense secretary. And what about South Korea hastening the deployment of the THAAD system?

[14:05:00] MOON: It's partly because of American pressure and partly because of the heightened threat from North Korea. And a large number of

South Koreans want earlier deployment of THAAD no matter how temporary it might be.

Therefore, there are pressures coming both sides. You know, Korean City just on the one hand and American government on the other.

AMANPOUR: We have seen the Iran nuclear deal under the Obama administration, where there was not just sticks but carrots as we have been

talking about.

Do you think that the United States could have spent more time dealing with North Korea in a similar negotiated way?

MOON: Yes, I personally believe that if the United States has spent even one fifth of time and effort on the North Korean issue with regard to the -

- compared with the Iranian case, I think the North Korean nuclear situation could have been resolved.

AMANPOUR: Give me the parameters of how that would have been resolve? Obviously, Iran is not a nuclear weapon state, whereas North Korea is.

How do you resolve that situation?

MOON: There is very, you know, curious aspect of American behavior. While North Korea has nuclear weapons, Iran did not have nuclear weapons, yet the

United States particularly the Obama administration has paid a great attention to the settlement of Iranian nuclear issue.

In reach in John Kerry and added money to spending 19 days -- full days in Geneva. But in the case of North Korea, North Korea is about completing

the projection of nuclear weapons and missiles. Yet the Obama administration didn't pay sufficient attention to North Korea. It is very

paradoxical comparison between Iran and North Korea.

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, if that's what happened then, do you have any hope that the current Trump administration can actually do something


MOON: I hope the Trump administration would come up with a more creative approach to North Korea. But at this present moment, it's not unclear,

because President Trump will make it very clear that there is no dialogue this time. Unless North Korea is changing behavior, we are not going to a

dialogue with North Korea. That kind of behavior, you know, sometimes is a bad omen for the future of the Korean Peninsula.

AMANPOUR: You know I'm reading your pessimism loud and clear. And I want to ask you whether you can figure out what Kim Jong-un's motives are. Some

say he's sending a serious message to China. Others say he's sending a message to the United States that he wants to survive unlike Iraq and

Libya. And Putin has said the same thing. Others say, as I mentioned, that he actually is targeting South Korea, and wants to potentially have

some kind of military confrontation that ends the Korean war on Pyongyang's terms.

Do you understand Kim Jong-un's motives?

MOON: I would say it is a very simple and straightforward. Protection of North Korean leadership, protection of North Korean institution and regime,

and protection of North Korean people. Those are the three major goals behind North Korea's nuclear weapons.

AMANPOUR: So you know President Moon very, very well. He himself is the son of North Korean refugees.

What is he feeling right now? I mean, he was against THAAD. Now he's pro- THAAD. You know, he was definitely for some kind of negotiated outcome. And now he's -- you know, he's in a very, very crisis situation.

What's going on with the president right now, the new president of South Korea with this first major test of his office?

MOON: President Moon is very much agonizing the current development. As you pointed out, he was against the deployment of THAAD, OK. At the same

time, he was a strong proponent of dialogue and negotiation with North Korea. But as North Korea continued to show unruly behavior and

provocation, he became extremely disappointed with North Korea and he's tilting toward sanctions and pressures and even deployment of American

THAAD system in South Korea. The situation, changing circumstances have altered his attitude.

AMANPOUR: Is the president scared? I mean, are the people of South Korea scared right now?

MOON: Yes, we are scared, but we still do not believe in the future -- you know, optimism. We believe that our government in cooperation with allies

and friends, we can resolve North Korean nuclear problem. Without that, you know, optimism, then there is no hope for us.

[14:10:00] AMANPOUR: U.S. officials, former CIA analysts, others who have actually met with North Korean officials recently as June have said that

they have been told there is no chance that North Korea is going to denuclearize and that they will hang on to their deterrent, their nuclear

deterrent as you say for the survival of their regime.

In that case, what are the parameters of a deal with this state?

MOON: I think we got stuck, these freezing of North Korean nuclear missile activities. And then move into the stage of verifiably dismantling of

North Korean nuclear facilities and material. And as to nuclear weapons and its denuclearization could be the final and last stage.

Therefore, if we start with denuclearization at the entrance, it will be extremely difficult for us to make a breakthrough. But if you follow

freezing and verifiable dismantling of nuclear facilities and materials, and eventually denuclearization, there are kinds of step by step approach

would make sense. You've got President Moon has proposed that kind of two- stage approaches.

AMANPOUR: In return for what? What does Kim Jong-un get for that?

MOON: We can come up with several other kinds of incentives. You know, for example, we can scale down or suspend the joint military exercise

between South Korea and the United States.

We would come up with some kind of economic incentives. Even the United State can come up with some kind of incentive such as diplomatic

normalization between the two.

In others, hostile, intent in powers in North Korea. If we work together, we can come up with a collective solution to the North Korean nuclear


Then here, what is really important is close cooperation, coordination involving the U.S., Japan, South Korea, China and Russia. Those five

country's coordination and cooperation becomes extremely important.

AMANPOUR: Chung in-Moon, special adviser to the president of South Korea, thank you so much for joining us.

MOON: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Incredibly thoughtful policy proposals from a senior official in South Korea to ending this crisis.

And when we come back, though, a deeper dive into President Putin's gamble on this crisis and his new warnings to the United States over Ukraine.

Historian and Kremlinologist Anne Applebaum joins me with her new book on Stalin's devastating famine in Ukraine. And how a 21st century Stalinist

regime still thrives now in North Korea.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Another tense war of words has broken out between the United States and Russia over fighting in Ukraine. After his summer visit there, the U.S.

Defense Secretary James Mattis signals support for arming Ukrainian forces prompting a furious warning from President Putin.

This 21st century conflict has its roots in a catastrophic episode from the early 1930s. A man-made famine launched against Ukraine by Joseph Stalin

in which more than 4 million Ukrainians starved to death.

Anne Applebaum is a distinguished historian of Eastern Europe and Russia, whose new book "Red Famine" uncovers the episode in all its brutality. And

as a columnist for "The Washington Post," she is an astute observer of how history shapes today' hot zones from Ukraine to North Korea. And she

joined me in our studio here earlier.


AMANPOUR: Anne Applebaum, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: This new book of yours is really shocking in what it tells about the Ukrainian famine, but because of North Korea and its sort of prominence

on the world stage day, do you see any similarities between this sort of Stalinist kingdom and what Stalin did in Ukraine and the Soviet Union?

APPLEBAUM: Well, remember that the North Korean regime is very much a Stalinist-style regime. And we're used to thinking of Stalinism as

something back in the 1930s, a form of government that doesn't really exist anymore. And actually North Korea with its hyper secrecy, its paranoia and

even its concentration camps, which remember were actually modelled on the Soviet Gulag Camps has a lot of similarity to Stalin's Soviet Union.

AMANPOUR: Just quickly on North Korea, which also had a famine in the 1990s. Are there any similarities? Was that man-made in North Korea?

APPLEBAUM: So it's further than the North Korean famine was really more economic. Although again this is a regime that would have decided who gets

food and who doesn't get food in a time of great shortages. And so we can sure that people in the center were fed, while people in the countryside,

people who weren't important weren't.

Food being used as a tool, something that lots of governments have done. I mean, the Ukrainian famine was a little bit different and that although it

was part of a broader period of shortages in the Soviet Union, it was also a very deliberate program. So the Soviets, they would actually sent

activists into people's homes and they took away their food and their grain, but also other kinds of food.

AMANPOUR: Because?

APPLEBAUM: Because they were interested at that time in undermining Ukraine's sovereignty, its sense of nationhood and really preventing

something that they feared which had happened in the past, which was the Ukrainian peasant rebellion.

AMANPOUR: Just tell us what those people were subjected to. What kind of famine?

APPLEBAUM: Well, imagine, you are -- they are very poor people to begin with. And they have -- literally their food is taken away. Soldiers came

to the houses they search. They used sticks to look for food hidden underground. They broke open bedding and cupboards. And they took

people's food. And then what they did is they essentially put a cordon around Ukraine and they blocked the access to the cities so that people

were stuck in their villages with no food. And after a certain period of time, you had whole villages dying off. This phenomenon of silent


AMANPOUR: And they resorted even to eating their own? They obviously ate animals. Is that what you found out?

APPLEBAUM: They certainly ate everything that you could eat including amazing things. I mean, they boiled shoe leather and they ate grass and so

on. And there were -- famously there were some cases of cannibalism, which were very carefully recorded by the state. So the state knew exactly how

bad the situation was.

AMANPOUR: You know one of the things that really strikes me given the fake news environment that we live in right now is that the Soviet Union refused

to use the word famine.

And one of their big propaganda successes was in convincing that then "New York Times" reporter that the Ukrainian people were hungry, but not

starving. There wasn't a famine.

APPLEBAUM: Yes, that was a famous headline. Hungry, but not starving. But the apparatus of denial was very, very strong. And it's -- you know,

it's worth remembering now when we see authoritarian regimes all over the world attempting to use new tactics really, but also attempting to cover up

-- cover up stories that would be bad for them.

And remember that this is something that's been used in the past. It's not new. Some of the techniques are familiar. It's something that's been

happening over many decades.

AMANPOUR: Why is this an important story to bring out today?

APPLEBAUM: Well, it's an important story because it gives you some of the background to the tension between Ukraine and Russia.

What is it that Russia doesn't like about Ukraine? Russia feels that Ukraine is a -- well, the Russian -- I should say the Russian state that

Ukraine is a threat to the sort of the business model of the Russian government.

You know, all those young Ukrainians waiving flags and saying, well, you know, EU flags saying we want rule of law, this is something that Russia's

government finds to be an ideological threat.

AMANPOUR: You write a lot on diplomacy. You're a Russia expert. President Putin and President Xi of China are sort of at odds with the

United States and the other western powers over how to deal with North Korea.

Do you see Putin sort of buying into the Kim Jong-un regime reason for creating these?

APPLEBAUM: No. I think Putin sees this as -- you know, he is an incredible cynical player. And he sees this North Korean conflict as

something that's good for him.


APPLEBAUM: And this is actually not something by the way the Chinese would think. The Chinese don't see it as good at all, because he's not going to

be a victim.

You know, if there is a tussle between the U.S. and North Korea, it's going to end badly for the U.S. if anybody or the South Koreans. It doesn't hurt

him. It's a problem for other people. You know, it's -- it's a problem for people who he sees as his enemies.

And remember that Russia if you -- you know, we're talking about propaganda or Russian television every night, you know, many -- over and over and over

again repeats. The United States is our enemy. We need to beware of the United States. You know, they have been creating the U.S. as an enemy and

as an evil character in Russian public life for the last couple of years. And having an American war with Korea would sort of play into that


AMANPOUR: And you have written quite critically of President Trump's use of Twitter and very bellicose language. The fire and the fury, and this

and that.

But what are world leaders meant to think when they look to the United States for leadership? Or who to engage with? I mean, the State

Department seems kind of empty. Lights are off. Embassies and departments. I mean, in Washington seem --

APPLEBAUM: One of the things we're seeing with this crisis is that it isn't clear we don't really have an ambassador to South Korea. We don't

really have high officials who deal with Asia. The expertise in the State Department isn't being used. It's -- you know, people aren't being

consulted. Conversations between -- maybe they happen between Trump and Tillerson but very little else.

I mean, we really see a kind of empty vessel. We see, you know, no real diplomatic tools being deployed. And so the talk of sanctions is something

Trump does on Twitter. But if you really, really want to do sanctions, well, then you have a diplomatic offensive, you talk to people in lots of

countries, you organize it. And we haven't seen any of that at all.

AMANPOUR: Anne Applebaum, thank you very much indeed.

APPLEBAUM: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Now when we come back, we'll visit a world where one wrong step could literally spell catastrophe. Imagine living only meters away from

Kim Jong-un's North Korea. That's next.


[14:25:40] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, tensions on the Korean Peninsula reverberating around the world.

So imagine a world right on the hermit kingdom's doorstep. The DMZ is the most dangerous and militarized border in the world as our Paula Hancocks

reminds us with this visit to the only South Korean village right there.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Art class in the local village school. Today, it`s all about making felt bags. This

scene could be anywhere in the world. It just so happens to on North Korea`s door step.

Daesong is the only South Korean village within the DMZ, the militarized zone, between North and South Korea.

(on camera): North Korea is just about 500 meters away from this village at its closest point. So, residents here really do feel any increase in

tension far more than anybody in the rest of the country.

And another thing they have to deal with, 24 hours a day, some of the residents are telling me is this propaganda broadcast coming from North

Korea. All of the houses here I'm told have special sound proofing, very thick walls to try and give them some kind of respite from the 24/7


(voice-over): A hundred ninety-seven people live in Daesong, also known as Freedom Village, mostly farmers who need a South Korean military escort

every time they go to their fields. One step too far, and they're in the North.

Very few residents want to talk on camera, saying the situation is too tense.

Cho Young-sook who runs the one restaurant in the village tells me this is the most concerned she's been in 38 years of living here.

"Although the North was threatening Guam," she says, "we still see this as quite negative. We locked our doors at night now, which we never did


Only residents are allowed in. Checkpoints and a nightly curfew of midnight, part of the daily routine. As our regular evacuation drills to

the village shelter stocked with gas masks and emergency supplies.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Daesong Village in the DMZ.


AMANPOUR: A warning indeed.

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast at any time. See us online at and follow me on

Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.