Return to Transcripts main page


Christiane Amanpour Examines Human Rights and Living Conditions of North Korean Citizens; Thae Yong-Ho Discusses the Living Conditions and Use of Propaganda to Influence the Thinking of North Koreans; Amanpour Discusses the Changing Leadership of the Editor of British Vogue

Aired November 10, 2017 - 14:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR OF AMANPOUR: Tonight, Trump softens his tone and changes his tune on China and North Korea. And we get a window

into Pyongyang's regime from the highest ranking diplomat to defect and a special report from the inside the Hermit Kingdom.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When you say you have rights people don't have outside North Korea, what do you mean by that?


CITIZEN (Through Translator): One example is our outstanding leader, Marshal Kim Jong-Un, she says. He's leading us to a better future. Trump

has no place to talk about human rights. He's a simple war maniac.


AMANPOUR: Also ahead, Kurdistan's losing gamble. My interview with the outgoing President Masoud Barzani after his independence referendum


Good evening everyone. Welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. All eyes on President Trump

this week as he powered through his first major trip to Asia with the nuclear threat from North Korea at the top of the agenda on each of his

five nation stops. Starting out with talks and golf with the Japanese Prime Minister Shin Abe and then moving on to South Korea, where the

President began toning down his fire and fury rhetoric towards Pyongyang, and saying that he's open to diplomatic efforts. In china, which the U.S.

Administration says should be putting a lot more pressure on Pyongyang, Trump was full of praise for President Xi Jinping. In a dramatic shift in

tone, he even said it wasn't China's fault that the trade deficit between them is widening.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another

country for the benefit of its citizens. I give China great credit.


AMANPOUR: Trump also tried to address the North Korean people, saying they live in a hell that no one deserves. What do they think of that? CNN's

Will Ripley was there in North Korea and he asked people. To no one's surprise, he found them sticking closely to the regime's script.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN REPORTER: In North Korea, where the news is under strict government control, state media gave only a brief mention of President

Trump's speech at the South Korean National Assembly. No details of his scathing indictment of North Korean human rights and harsh words for their

supreme leader Kim Jong-Un.

TRUMP: North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.

RILEY: Despite heavy restrictions on the flow of information, our government guides allow us to tell Pyongyang citizens exactly what Trump


CITIZEN (Through Translator): That's absurd, says this housewife. The reality here is very different. We're leading a happy life and we enjoy

exclusive rights.

RILEY: When you say you have rights people don't have outside of North Korea, what do you mean by that?

CITIZEN (through translator): One example is our outstanding leader, Marshall Kim Jong-Un she says. He's leading us to a better future. Trump

has no place to talk about human rights, he's a simple war maniac.

RILEY: Her answer echoes North Korea's leading newspaper which called President Trump's words, "war-mongering filthy rhetoric spewing out of his

snout like garbage that reeks of gunpowder to ignite war." [Pi-Wan Gil:00] is an editor at a publishing company. I asked him about President

Trump's claim that North Korea is a failed state where most live in proverty drawing a stark contrast to their neighbors in the south.

Why do you think that South Korea's economy is so much larger than North Koreas? Do you agree with President Trump that it's your government's

policies that are to blame?

NEWSPAPER EDITOR (through translator): He knows nothing at all about this part of the country he says. Here we have free education, housing, medical

care. He was raised an orphan. His parents died serving the government. Now he has a kushy job in the show piece capital. The United Nations says

most North Koreans live without regular electricity, clean water, and nutritious food.

RILEY: What about people who don't live here in Pyongyang, people who live out in the countryside?

NEWSPAPER EDITOR (through translator): We're building our economy, even under the sanctions and economic blockade by the Americans, he says. And

even in Western countries, there's a big difference between life in the capital and small towns. On 17 trips to North Korea, I'd never heard

anyone criticize the government. There is zero tolerance for dissent of any kind. Defectors testifying to the U.N. often paint a much darker

picture of life inside North Korea. But here no deviation from the party line. They say this country is not hell, it's home.

Will Ripley, CNN Pyongyang, North Korea.


AMANPOUR: And indeed, we just spoke this week to the highest ranking North Korean diplomat to defect in decades. It's a very rare interview and gives

a much different insight into the regime and daily life for the people. Thae Yong-Ho was Deputy Ambassador right here in the U.K. before defecting

to South Korea in 2016. And this is what he told me about life inside.


AMANPOUR: What do you think the people inside North Korea know about the outside world? Do they fully believe and support what their leadership

tells them? And how do you think because you have said that Kim's days are numbered, that the regime could crumble. We do not see that from the


THAE YONG-HO, DEFECTOR FROM NORTH KOREAN REGIME (through translator): The North Korean society could only be in praise by means of reign of terror

and prevention of inflow of outside information. But what is taking place in North Korea in the past days, in the past years, that North Korean

population now getting to be used to outside information by the rival of South Korean cultural content. The more they face and used to this kind of

information, North Korean population will not believe what they are told by propaganda network. And secondly, the structure of North Korea is going

towards (capitalization). The number of free markets are increasing and the means of the people are getting more and more dependent on the

capitalist element which is called the free market. So the changes which taking place is inside North Korea are actually not favorable to the long

survival and sustainability of Kim's regime.

AMANPOUR: And yet you talked about a reign of terror. You say that people's economic situation is better, therefore the regime's economic

survival is better. So where do you see the possibility of this regime crumbling? Is that a realistic possibility?

YONG-HO: I think, if we continue to disseminate outside information inside North Korea and educate North Korean people and tell them what kind of

environment they are living in now, I am sure that one day North Korean people would stand up against the current system of reign of terror,


AMANPOUR: You defected but you are intimately aware of the policies and the thinking inside the North Korean government. So please, can you tell

us to the best of your knowledge, what they are thinking in their bureau?

YONG-HO: I think that people including (inaudible) bureau are think that they can get the nuclear status if they continue to compel Washington. But

that is really unlikely. That's why Washington and the west


continue to tell, and if possible, directly with Kim Jong-Un that America will never accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state. And if North Korea

continues this direction or provoked attack, America or any of its allies including South Korea, then North Korea would get totally destroyed.

AMANPOUR: You know I listen to you speak. You spent most of your life working for this regime. You were a diplomat all over the world and

obviously you've defected. What is it that caused your to break with the regime? Why did you decide to defect and speak like you're speaking now

against the regime?

YONG-HO: Because I learned that Kim Jong-Un does not know actually the strength and might of American military force and Kim Jong-Un has the wrong

idea that he can achieve his goal by acquiring this nuclear weapons. That is really wrong. And America and the west will never accept nuclearized

North Korea at any rate. So that's why I think it is a very important for the United States together with the West to continue not only to (pale) but

increase the current momentum of sanctions so that North Korea cannot reach its goal of nuclear status.

AMANPOUR: Have you ever met Kim Jong-Un as leader?

YONG-HO: I haven't met him in person, or face to face, but I saw him at a distance a couple of times.

AMANPOUR: Is he viewed as a demigod by the people? What is his strategy for himself, for his country, for relations with the rest of the world?

YONG-HO: Oh he wants to create two images. The first that he wants to create a type of (inaudible) leader with North Korean people but on the

other end, he wants to create a kind of mad or unpredictable man towards the west.

AMANPOUR: As we know, he's being accused of ordering the murder of his half brother in Malaysia. We've seen the executions of members of his

family and top officials in Pyongyang every since he became leader. What is that all about? Is that at his direction or are there people pulling

his strings?

YONG-HO: Oh, at his first five years in power, actually he feared and he faced some challenges inside the leadership of North Korea that's why Kim

Jong-Un decided to show that he is a man, albeit it merciless so that everyone should be frightened about him. So I think in the five years it

seems that he consolidated his absolute power of control over the senior leadership. So I presume that in the coming years the label and scale of

that kind of (inaudible) would slow down or would be diminished as step by step.

AMANPOUR: So our were Deputy, a North Korean Ambassador in the United Kingdom and you've had posts all over the world. What was it like being in

a foreign post? Did you live in fear every day? What were you expected to do as an ambassador to the world?

YONG-HO: Oh as the deputy the duty they asked of the North Korean Embassy in London, my main job is to tell the British, the government that British

Government should play a certain role to prevent a possible wall on Korean peninsula by recommending American as an ally and also to develop a

bilateral relations between North Korea and UK especially in terms of cultural and educational relations.

AMANPOUR: And just again to go back to the people inside North Korea, what are they able to get from the outside? What do they know about America for

instance? Do they believe what the regime tells them that America is their sworn enemy? And still wants to destroy the country and all of that?

YONG-HO: To some extent yes. Because North Korean propaganda system always tell North Korean population that North Korea was totally destroyed

to ashes during Korean war by American bombing and North Korean people are taught everyday that America is going to attack North Korea at any moment.

That's why North Korean population should be ready at any moment for any possible war like that. So I think we should, examine the information that

America is not their enemy.

[14:15:00] American can help North Korea. And it is the wrong propaganda by the authority.


AMANPOUR: And coming up, how the dream of statehood for Iraqi Kurdistan came crashing down. I speak to the outgoing President Masoud Barzani.

That's next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. The outgoing President of Iraq's Kurdistan Government was this week unapologetic for holding the referendum

that cost him and his region dearly. Masoud Barzani has stepped down and his people's dreams of independence in ruins. On the 25th of September,

Kurds came out in droves to vote for autonomy; joyously celebrating the result that they believed would give them a mandate to start negotiating

with the Government of Iraq and its neighbors. It wasn't to be. Iraq's Prime Minister declared the vote unconstitutional. Its army advanced and

Kurdish forces retreated from territory they had occupied since the fall of Saddam Hussein. This included Kirkuk with its vast oil reserves which

provided its main source of revenue. I spoke to the outgoing president who had gambled so much and lost.


AMANPOUR: President Barzani, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Were you surprised when Baghdad sent troops all the way up to the border with Kurdistan, all the way up to Kirkuk. Were you surprised at

the reaction of Baghdad?

BARZANI (through translator): I would like to make one fact clear. The referendum was an excuse for Baghdad. This was Baghdad's plan even before

the referendum. They have prepared themselves a long time ago. I wasn't surprised that the Iraqi forces attacked Kurdistan but what surprised me a

great deal was the people whom American listed them as terrorists attacked us with American's weapons under the eyes of the American officers and


AMANPOUR: Mr. Barzani you have been a Kurdish leader for most of your life and most of your political career. You know better than anybody what

America, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Baghdad think about Kurdistan and an independent Kurdistan. I guess I'm wondering why you gambled everything at

the end and did you give them an excuse even though you said they were preparing to use military force.

BARZANI (though translator): To be honest, the people of Kurdistan cannot wait forever until this and that country agree. This is our natural right.

We participated our right in a Democratic and peaceful way. We didn't say we would declare independence the day after. We said allow the people of



To express their views. We will conduct negotiations. No matter how much time it will take, we will create better relations with Baghdad through

understanding and far from violence. I don't know the human rights and democracy and freedom-what happened to these principles that they talk

about day and night? This was our natural right. We are practicing our right. Let them do whatever they want to do against us.

AMANPOUR: You know you said we did what was right. But, you know, you've now lost territory. You've lost power and influence, and you've lost the

prestige of the Kurdish autonomous region there. Again, was it worth it? Did you expect it to end up like this?

BARZANI (though translator): If we would have lost our will it would have been much bigger than losing some area temporarily. But if we had to

choose between losing our wealth and losing the hope of our nation or to bear some losses, we chose not to lose our people will and honor. We chose

to lose other things.

AMANPOUR: I'm curious as to who advised you. Because as you know, you know, the Americans were advising you very strongly and very publically not

to hold this referendum and not to declare independence.

BARZANI (though translator): This is right. We said that it's not the time for the referendum. They said to postpone it for two to three years.

And then if you do that, we will respect the results of the referendum. So we said instead of saying respect, write support and we will postpone it.

But they didn't say support and they didn't promise us support. For this reason, we were not convinced and we thought that delaying it would do more


AMANPOUR: So what is next for the Kurdish people and for Kurdistan itself?

BARZANI (though translator): Now the (KRG) has asked to negotiate with Baghdad and the file is with them now. War and violence was not our choice

at any time unless it was forced upon us.

AMANPOUR: I'm sure you've been looking at Spain and you've seen the results of Spain's referendum, the Catalonia referendum, and you've seen

what's happened to the leadership there. He's had to escape because he's being accused of rebellion. Mr. Puigdemont, the world is not in the mood

for more independence referendums. What do you think of that?

BARZANI (though translator): This became clear that the present nations have to depend on themselves. And the claims about human rights, the

rights of nations, freedom, and democracy, they're all baseless.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Barzani you look very sad. You look very tired and you look quite fed up. Am I right?

BARZANI (though translator): No unfortunately this is not true. I'm very normal, I'm very calm, but for sure I was disappointed. We felt that after

the Peshmerga fought bravely and diminished ISIS, the people of Kurdistan demolished the mess of ISIS. We felt that the people who were verbally

telling us they were our friends and would support us that they would have supported us then stay silent. But it was clear that we were alone with

our mountains. But unfortunately they not just didn't support the Peshmerga, but the Peshmerga is getting murdered with their weapons and

they were looking without doing anything. This is what upsets me Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And what message do you have for the Prime Minister Albadi of Iraq?

BARZANI (though translator): My message is last year we help you a lot in Mosul. We've helped you a lot in Mosul. If it wasn't for the Peshmerga,

you wouldn't be able to liberate Mosul. Go back to the logic and wisdom and solve the problems with the (KRG) through negotiations because war

results in bloodshed and destruction for all the people of Iraq and nothing else.

AMANPOUR: Well, outgoing President Barzani, thank you very much for joining me.

BARZANI: Thank you. Thank you Christiane. Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: When we come back, British vogue turns a new page in its illustrious history. We take a look at the highly-anticipated first

edition from the magazine's first black male editor. That is next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where diversity is in vogue, "British Vogue" that is. It's hugely anticipated December cover in

Vogue's nostalgic glamour and marks a leap forward for the magazine. The new editor is a man, not only that, he's a black man. So that's two firsts

in "Vogue." Ghana born Edward Enniful took the helm in June. "British Vogue" has been slammed in the past for it's all the white staff masthead

by supermodel Naomi Campbell. Now staff are trying to give the magazine a facelift and bring it into the current era of celebrating diversity and

smart girl power. The cover girl model Adwoa Aboah's resume boasts feminist activism. She founded a young woman's mental health initiative,

Girls Talk. And by the way the British ethnic minorities make up half of the rest of the names on this cover. It's a great start now let's see if

Vogue can keep up with our times. That's it for our program tonight. And remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at Follow me on Facebook and twitter. Thanks for watching and good bye from London.