Return to Transcripts main page


North Korea Holds Massive Military Parade; PyeongChang Prepares for Wintry Games. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 8, 2018 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:10] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Competition at the Winter Games gets underway but to the North a potential hold up in Kim Jong-Un's military parade.

VAUSE: A top White House aide resigns accused of physically abusing his many ex-wives. What did the administration know and when did they know it? >

SESAY: And holding on to hope, workers shore up tilting buildings in Taiwan as the search continues for dozens of missing quake victims.

VAUSE: Hello everybody. Great to have you with us all around the world. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games is a day away but competition has already started. While the mission of the games is to build a peaceful and better world, diplomatic tensions remain high.

SESAY: North Korea is celebrating its founding anniversary with a huge military parade in Pyongyang. The message here -- defiance underscoring the North's refusal to back down to pressures to halt it's nuclear program.

VAUSE: And while addressing U.S. troops in Japan on his way to the games, the U.S. Vice President repeated plans to impose the toughest sanctions yet on North Korea.


MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And as I announced yesterday, we will continue to intensify this maximum pressure campaign on North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all.

But until that day arrives, let the world know from here at Yokota Air Base and beyond we are ready for any eventuality. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: The delegation of high ranking officials from the North, including Kim Jong-Un's sister is attending the opening ceremony. Pyongyang says it has no intention of meeting U.S. officials there. >

VAUSE: Well, we have Paula Hancocks in Pyeongchang reporting on the Games. Also Will Ripley will be joining us shortly from Seoul. He'll have the very latest on North Korea's military parade.

But Paula to you -- at the same time as, you know, we're expecting these missiles and military to roll through the streets of Pyongyang there's 280 North Korean -- North Koreans rather who have crossed the border from North to South to take part and to attend these games. It's being called a charm offensive by some which is quite a contrast to what we expect to be happening quite soon in North Korea's capital of Pyongyang.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean it couldn't be more different -- John. You have what's coming up in just a number of hours -- this concert that's going to be held the Gangnum Arts Hall. This is on the East Coast, where some of the Olympic venues are, that's for VIPs and for a couple of the locals.

And certainly that is a big deal when it comes to this arts troop that is here. You've got the cheerleading squad that is here. They are all walking around very colorful, hundreds of journalists chasing after them as you can imagine.

And for the most part they are being welcomed where they are. Now there are pockets of protests certainly when the arts troop came on their ferry from North Korea. The one thing they could see when they looked out of the window was protesters saying that North Korea has got everything that they need but they haven't had to give anything up in order to come to the Olympics. So certainly it is vastly different to what you're going to see in Pyongyang.

VAUSE: And you know, Paula -- we also have a situation where there's been this speculation at the Games that maybe the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence because he's there, at the same time as Kim Jong-Un's sister; that there could be some kind of breakthrough in diplomatic talks. But the North Koreans have made it very clear, as far as they're concerned, they're not interested in talking

HANCOCKS: That's right. We had an article from the state-run media KCNA a little earlier this Thursday. And it was from the foreign ministry saying that they have no intention of meeting with the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

They say that if they begged for talks, they've never asked for these talks and they have no intention of using any sporting event for political purposes.

Now, of course, that is the state-run media. Quite often they say a different thing to what we see happening behind the scenes. So we'll take that with a grain of salt. But the one interesting thing John -- is the way that the U.S. and South Korea are viewing this. They are vastly differing views. The U.S. you heard there from the Vice President Pence saying that they are considering stronger sanctions. They don't want North Korea to be able to use the Olympics for propaganda purposes.

And then on the South Korean side they're welcoming everything that North Korea says. The fact that they sent Kim Jong-Un's sister would be coming as part of the delegation. That was welcomed wholeheartedly by the Blue House saying that they thought that it showed North Korea wanted to relieve that tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

[00:05:04] So for two very close allies they have a completely different way of looking at North Korea's participation. South Korea can't see anything wrong with it and the U.S. can't see anything right with it.

VAUSE: Ok. Paula -- stay with us because Will Ripley is with us now in Seoul. Of course, Will -- the big mystery of the day is what time will that military parade start? Has it started? Is it over? Is it actually going ahead at all? What can you tell us?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So we have just learned from South Korea's national intelligence service, John, that the parade actually is already over. It was believed to have started around 10:00 a.m. local time here in Seoul which would have been 8:00 p.m. Eastern time in the United States. It lasted for about an hour according to South Korean intelligence.

They learned this by looking at satellite imagery, because as of now North Korea has not yet broadcast the parade. But we do expect a taped broadcast to air in the coming hours.

The reason why the parade was not shown live and why it was shown on tape is the reason why North Korea often pre-tapes and then edits major events. They like to carefully control the images that the world sees.

Likely you won't see many close-ups of these missiles which a lot of analysts are going to be trying to look very closely to determine if they are legitimate missiles, if they're mock-ups. Most military parades around the world use mock ups for obvious reasons. When you have a country's entire leadership assembled to watch a parade, you don't want to have live weapons right in front of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un.

But nonetheless people are going to be picking apart the images very carefully. North Korea well aware of that, which is why we believe a carefully-edited program will be broadcast relatively soon in the coming hours showing this parade in Pyongyang.

VAUSE: There's, you know, a lot of talk about how valuable from an intelligence point of view those images will be but there's a situation that unlike previous military parades, foreign reporters like yourself were not invited into the country. As you say it's not broadcast live on state television there. And you know, this is all about controlling the image that what is, you know, there is controlling the images and then there is altering the images. What are the chances that these images could be doctored to tell, or for the North Koreans to show the world, you know, what they want the world to see?

RIPLEY: It seems unlikely that with such a quick turn around that the video could be doctored in any significant way. That kind of post- production would take much longer than just a parade in the morning and a broadcast in the afternoon.

But it's likely that the North Korean television crews were given instructions, probably lots of wide shots to show the grand scale. People are going to be trying to count how many missiles were on display. I had sources, diplomatic sources with close knowledge of North Korean activities, tell me two weeks ago that there will be hundreds of missiles and rockets rolling through Kim Il-Sung Square which would be a very dramatic spectacle but there are a lot of logistical challenges one of which just getting the large wheels for those mobile transporter vehicles into North Korea.

Some of the mobile transporters that they're using -- they're using parts that were smuggled from China nearly ten years ago because sanctions have effectively eliminated North Korea's ability to obtain that kind of thing. It's actually easier for them to produce mock-ups or missiles themselves than it would be to actually get in the machinery to transport and drive those missiles through the North Korean capital.

So people will be looking at the images but you can expect again probably lots of wide shots. Frankly, what's surprising, we initially thought that we and other news agencies were going to be invited in to cover this parade here in Pyongyang and then the decision was made very abruptly not to let us in.

My sources are telling me that is partially because when international news crews are in town, they zoom in, they show close ups. And in the past there have been allegations against North Korea that hat some of the missiles are made out of materials like wood or papier-mache with metal parts to make it look real. Obviously North Korea trying to avoid any questions of that kind because this parade is designed to send a strong message to the United States in particular, in the words of my source, to scare the hell out of the Americans.

VAUSE: Very quickly, we've been looking at images from a parade back in April. This is in order to celebrate the founding of North Korea's army. For the last 40 years it's been held in April. This year it was changed to the day before the Winter Games there. Has there been any official reason because clearly this seems to be an obvious attempt to overshadow the opening ceremony.

RIPLEY: Well, this is a military holiday that hasn't been celebrated on a large scale since the 1970s. Obviously it does time with being the eve of the Winter Games. And so from the North Korean official viewpoint they can say look, we just decided to mark the holiday on February 8th as opposed to April 25th, which is what we have seen in previous years.

Others might believe that the timing of course is not coincidental but an attempt by the North Korean government led by Kim Jong-Un to try to overshadow the openin8 ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in the South.

VAUSE: Yes, sent his sister to Seoul and to the Winter Games there in Pyeongchang, sent missiles s down Pyongyang for the Americans to see.

[00:10:00] Will -- thank you for the information. We appreciate the update.

And Paula -- we appreciate the very latest from you there in Pyeongchang at the Winter Games.

SESAY: Well, the prospect of another U.S. government shutdown now seems a little less likely. Senate leaders announced a bipartisan two-year budget including $80 billion in disaster relief from the recent hurricanes and wild fires.

But the bill's future, well that is uncertain when it comes to the House. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says she's opposed to it. She held the floor for eight hours, yes you heard right, eight hours Wednesday because the plan doesn't address immigration.

Meanwhile the White House is under fire for defending top aide Rob Porter. He resigned amid accusations of domestic abuse from his two ex-wives. Porter is denying those allegations.

And a Republican senator claims former President Barack Obama may have tried to interfere in the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation but the timeline of events doesn't quite line up and a source familiar with the probe says the text message in question is being taken out of context.

There is a lot to unpack here with our panel. I'm pleased to say we have with us here Mo Kelly, a political commentator and host of the "Mo Kelly Show" here in Los Angeles and Chris Faulkner is a Republican strategist with the Majority Strategy. Gentlemen -- welcome. Good to see you.


SESAY: Chris -- let's start with the situation (AUDIO GAP) Porter resigning amid these allegations of physical abuse by his two ex- wives. He is denying it. Let's put up his statement be clear on what he is saying. He says "These outrageous allegations are simply false. I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims. But I will not further engage publically with a coordinated smear campaign."

All right. Well it's what Porter's saying. I think the question here on the minds of many is, what did the White House chief of staff John Kelly know? When did he know it?

He came out early Wednesday and passionately defended Porter. I want to read you what he said initially. He said "Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can't say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidant and a trusted professional. I'm proud to serve alongside him."

He changed his tune later Wednesday and said this. "I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There's no place for domestic violence in our society. I stand by my previous comments (AUDIO GAP) Porter that I have come to know (AUDIO GAP) chief of staff. And believe that every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. I accepted his resignation earlier today and will ensure a swift and orderly transition."

Chris -- CNN is learning that senior aides knew about this. They knew about these allegations about Rob Porter. They've known for a while. So does it seem credible to you that the chief of staff could express the shock in the second statement?

CHRIS FAULKNER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There's one thing about Washington D.C. is rumors are never far from places of power. And certainly rumors about people that work in and around the White House are extremely common. Even horrible, horrible things like domestic violence. Whether or not they're true we don't know.

Hopefully there will be due process and we'll get to find out. I would imagine General Kelly when he made those statements is probably looking at somebody he works with, not knowing anything about maybe what's going on in his private life, if in fact, these things are true which we still don't yet know.

SESAY: Correct.

FAULKNER: And he made a strong statement about his (AUDIO GAP) probably does a great job at the office. Now, if these things are true, you know, he's obviously -- he's resigned from the White House, which is appropriate, because it's hard for the White House doing its job when someone is faced with a serious allegation like this.

SESAY: Mo Kelly -- this matter is complicated by the fact that it has emerged that the White House communications director, Hope Hicks is romantically involved with Rob Porter. Now, that in and of itself shouldn't be a headline, except that Hope Hicks helped craft the statement put out by General Kelly and also the statement made by Sarah Sanders.

What does that say to you? Do you find that troubling because normally you would expect in a situation like this she would have recused herself.

MO KELLY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Normally but these aren't normal times. And there's a question of whether anything matters to this White House. In terms of hiring the best people, the extreme vetting -- I mean either they did not know which is a problem, or they did know and did not care.

This was relatively known in terms of two ex-wives who had gone on the record in terms of their divorce decrees as far as what allegedly happened in their relationships. So this should not have been an unknown quantity with the exception of the people in the White House who are now saying they didn't know. SESAY: Chris?

FAULKNER: And again, when there's a serious allegation like this. I think any of us would want to give someone the benefit of the doubt until they're proven guilty. Obviously you want to take an allegation like this seriously, which I think we have.

You know, In terms of whether Hope Hicks, you know, crafting statements -- General Kelly is a 30-year Marine Corps veteran. I'm pretty sure he crafts his own statement and says what he means. I don't think there's been any manipulation on the part of the communications director of the White House.

[00:15:04] SESAY: I think a point that is being made is that as it is -- you know, as we are learning from CNN -- and you make a very good point and we'll continue to stress, these are allegations. Even though there is a photo of an ex-wife with a bruised eye. But, you know, Rob Porter says there's more to that story than the image. Fine.

But I think the question a lot of people have is if these allegations were swirling, how is it that this man's stock still continues to rise within this White House?

FAULKNER: Again, if there were allegations and at the time no one had come forward with any kind of credible proof and he was doing a good job at the office, whether you're in Hollywood or whether you're in Washington D.C. people want to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Yes there are people that may make allegations against you. If it does prove that these things are, in fact, true then yes, absolutely. Absolutely he should be removed from his position and shouldn't tarnish the White House or anything else that's going on there with anything like this.

KELLY: Was this the first time that the White House actually heard of these allegations? I suspect that it wasn't. If you're going to get a White House clearance -- a security clearance --

SESAY: -- which had been delayed for a good number of months.

KELLY: -- right. This was something which will be at the top of the pile or the top of the list, I suspect as opposed to something which is hidden and no one really knows until a reporter does some fact- finding.

It's hard for me to believe that this White House continuously, time and time again does not know that the people in its employ either have questionable histories or questionable relationships with other countries. That's the common thread which is woven through all of this.

SESAY: Chris -- unless you want to weigh in on that, I'm going to move on to talk about budget. But I suspect you don't.

So let's talk about budget shall we? FAULKNER: Let's talk about the budget.

SESAY: I thought you want to say that. Let's talk about --

FAULKNER: Let's talk about job numbers.

SESAY: Let's talk about -- let's turn to budget and the bipartisan deal that was agreed upon, hasn't been voted upon yet. But we have a deal on the table that would increase domestic and military spending by some $300 billion across the next two years. It raises the federal debt limit.

Chris, fiscal hawks saying that this would add some $1 trillion to the fiscal deficit in 2019 and beyond -- is this a deal you can get behind as a Republican?

FAULKNER: Absolutely. Any time that we're strengthening our nation's national defense and we're doing things; and I'm a little biased. As a veteran of the military myself when you look at the pay scale for entry level members of the military, it's below the poverty line. We need to be doing more to help people that are defending our nation.

And obviously we're going to be doing more than just pay raises but we're going to be doing a lot of things to strengthen our military, strengthen the capabilities so that other countries understand when we mean to defend freedom and democracy wherever it's at, we really mean those things.

And the military no doubt has been stretched thin by the ongoing warfare for the last 15 or more years. And it is time that we really invest in the military. And by doing so as a benefit we are also investing in the U.S. economy. We're creating jobs. There's all of these things that we're going to be putting into the military, have a residual value in terms of jobs created and growth in other sectors.



SESAY: Let me just also add, this bill does not include DACA, which the Democrats had gone to the mat to fight for.

KELLY: There are two things to this. First I agree with Chris in the sense of it will help the economy, it will help veterans and for that I'm absolutely all for.

But let's be intellectually honest in terms of the financial implications. We don't know this in conjunction with the proposed trillion-dollar infrastructure bill which has not been manifested yet from President Trump. Or the deficit involvement in terms of the tax law, how that's going to be impactful. Let's have a serious conversation and not just push that aside monetarily.

In terms of DACA, the Democrats are going to have serious problem because since the first term of President Obama's administration they've been promising immigration reform and they haven't gotten it. They shut down the government last month, they didn't get it.

And now they have this new budget bill for the next two years with only a promise of a discussion of immigration reform. Which means that if they don't take care of business, the Democratic constituencies will likely stay home.

SESAY: Chris -- very quickly as we talk about being intellectually honest, does this lay to rest the GOP's claim of being like, you know, basically fiscally responsibility?

FAULKNER: I think the GOP is still very fiscally responsible when it comes to the largest parts of our federal budget -- entitlement reform and things like that are still (INAUDIBLE) lion's share of the abilities and the ways that we have to balance the federal budget and to reduce the deficit.

Increases in spending in Defense are almost never a bad idea as long as they're applied appropriately. Of course, as with any government agency, there's going to be some stupid money that's going to be spent.

But overall this is going to be a net good thing for both the American economy as well as Americans who are wearing the uniform.

SESAY: You know that a lot of conservatives will absolutely disagree with you, right.

FAULKNER: Absolutely.

SESAY: The fiscal hawks in the House.

FAULKNER: And that's good. We should have the disagreement because it's going to keep people honest. I'm glad there are people that are opposed to this.

SESAY: Last word to you, Mo Kelly.

[00:19:56] KELLY: I'm opposed to the spending and the idea that yesterday we were against all the spending but now we're ok with it. I remember. I was born at night, not last night.

SESAY: You love that line.

Mo Kelly, Chris Faulkner -- always a pleasure. Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, still to come here -- Israel's police chief claims powerful people are gathering information in the investigators working the corruption case against the prime minister who could soon be charged with bribery and breach of trust.

SESAY: And aftershocks are making the search for survivors more difficult after Taiwan's devastating earthquakes. The latest on the rescue effort -- all of that just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: U.S.-led coalition forces battling ISIS in Syria say they came under attack Wednesday from about 500 troops loyal to the Syrian regime. It's unclear who the pro-regime forces were but according to various U.S. officials they crossed the Euphrates River with forces in Russian-made tanks and artillery firing on Syrian forces backed by the U.S.

U.S. air strikes and artillery repelled the so-called unprovoked assault killing about a hundred attackers before they retreated.

SESAY: Well, Syrian forces have also been very active against rebels in Eastern Syria especially the enclave of Ghouta near the capital. Hundreds of thousands of civilians there in desperate circumstances with little humanitarian aid.

Our own Ben Wedeman has the latest.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The situation in the rebel-controlled eastern Ghouta just outside of Damascus is increasingly dire. For three days now Syrian war planes have pummeled the area killing as many as 80 people Tuesday, almost 30 Wednesday -- according to the U.K.-based Syrian observatory for human rights. Tuesday, opposition forces fired artillery rounds from the Eastern Ghouta into Damascus, killing five civilians according to official Syrian-Arab News Agency.

This rebel-controlled area has a population of around 400,000 who have been under siege for the past five years. No aid has reached eastern Ghouta since November of last year, putting the people there at risk of starvation and disease.

The U.N. is calling for an immediate one-month cease-fire to allow humanitarian relief into the area and to evacuate the sick and wounded. So far that appeal has fallen on deaf ears.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN -- reporting from Beirut.


VAUSE: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a message for his friends on Facebook and pretty much everybody else. He is innocent in two separate criminal investigations.

Mr. Netanyahu posted his video as local media report police are ready to recommend his indictment. The cases involve allegations of fraud, bribery and breach of trust.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): There will be nothing because I know the truth. The state of Israel is a nation of law.

[00:25:01] The law saw that the person who decides if there's sufficient evidence against the Prime Minister is the attorney general. And he confers with the state attorney's office.

The state attorney said recently in the Knesset that half the recommendations from police end in nothing. So don't be under pressure.


VAUSE: Even if police issue that recommendation to indict it will still be up to the attorney general to decide whether it moves forward. >

SESAY: Now, rescuers in Taiwan are dealing with more aftershocks and buildings on the brink of collapse after Tuesday's 6.4 magnitude earthquake. At least 9 people were killed, nearly 300 injured. Crews are doing everything they can to shore up buildings and find the dozens of people still missing.

The latest now from CNN's Alexandra Field.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An unreal view from above shows building perilously tilting, shaken off its foundation by the quake.

Rescue workers across the city of Hualien are searching for dozens of people still missing, many possibly trapped in the rubble.

In this apartment building which is also a hotel is just one of several across the city that has either shifted off its foundation or collapsed entirely. You can see those enormous beams are actually holding it in place.

Taiwan's president is warning the clock is ticking.

TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN (through translator): We are racing against time and now is still the crucial time. We hope that we can quickly put the steel frame up and prop up the whole building so that our rescuers can go inside the site and rescue people who are now trapped inside.

FIELD: Another area where people are trapped, the Marshall Hotel which partially collapsed. Among the hundreds injured a group of Japanese tourists.

This man still in shock is an employee at the hotel. His co-worker didn't survive.

Rescues took place in the dark of night, children were carried out of the windows in this damaged building. Just some of more than 200 rescues across the city.

During the chaos, one shop owner wasted no time helping people escape.

LE CHONG-SAN (ph), BUSINESS OWNER (through translator): When the quake happened, we took the children and ran. My shop was still open at the same time. My wife told me the opposite building has collapsed. So quickly took the flashlights and went over to save the people.

FIELD: In this motorcycle shop you can see the moment the earth began to shake and the horror on the shop owner's face. The family told CNN they're used to earthquakes but this one was particularly frightening.

A look inside this woman's apartment shows the damage. You can see where the dinnerware crashed onto the floor. Many of her personal belongings smashed into pieces.

Watch this man who was filming a sales pitch when the tremor struck then ran for cover.

A woman who was in a fifth floor apartment in that building tells me that building fell so far that she was actually able to fall out of her smashed window and she found herself on the street level.

Firefighters here say that they have gone through this building floor by floor, the 12th floor down to the third floor looking for any survivors. They have cleared all the apartments on those floors, now they're turning their focus to the most seriously, heavily damaged portions of the building, those bottom two floors and that is where they expect that they could find more people.

Back to you.


VAUSE: Alexandra Field there.

And when we come back here, we'll have more on that massive military parade in Pyongyang. When the images are eventually broadcast on state TV what will they reveal about North Korea's missile technology?




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:


VAUSE: Daniel Pinkston is a professor of international relations at Troy University. He's with us now from Seoul.

Daniel, good to see you. In the past, when North Korea has held these big military parades, they've often invited foreign reporters in to be there and to see it firsthand.

What does it say this time that they were kept out, in fact (INAUDIBLE) would not be going and this parade will be broadcast on tape delay?

It won't go out live.

DANIEL PINKSTON, TROY UNIVERSITY: I think in the past, many analysts have looked at the images and have been able to make assessments of the weapons systems on display. And with a taped version going out on a North Korean broadcast, of course, they can control the message that's going out.

VAUSE: With that in mind, the North Koreans know what they want the world to see.

So what will they actually want us all to, you know, gather from this big military parade when does make it to air?

PINKSTON: Well, I think any country and any military has incentives to conceal some of their capabilities; there might be some weaknesses that they don't want disclosed. They might want to exaggerate their capabilities.

But nevertheless they have a number of reasons to conceal them. So maybe they've become aware of some of the analysis that has gone on before.

And, of course, the parade is directed at a number of audiences. I think the primary audience is the North Korean audience. And then, of course, there's an international audience and there's the audience in South Korea. So they calibrate or tailor that message to those different audiences and the message is slightly different.

VAUSE: The message for the North Korean domestic audience is what?

PINKSTON: It's interesting. I was watching some of the programming from Korean central television earlier today when we were expecting the parade to come on the air. And it was a lot of patriotic songs, a lot of images and short stories about the military.

It is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army, the regular army in 1948. And there were a lot of images of cooperation and collaboration with citizens and the military and the army.

So in the North Korean state narrative, the military plays a very big role in development, independence, their foreign policy, their development policy. And so they were trying to send that message out and these very strong patriotic nationalistic messages to the North Korean citizens.

VAUSE: Right now, the bigger picture seems to be the South Koreans are playing good cop with the North; the U.S. Is the bad cop. Seoul is welcoming Kim's sister to the games, even though she's the target of U.S. sanctions. Seoul is not saying a whole lot about the parade to the north.

[00:35:00] VAUSE: The U.S. vice president says that he will be there in South Korea to remind the world not to be fooled by this charm offensive; the regime is still ruthless and brutal. That would be a good strategy except for the fact that the South Korea and the United States aren't working together.

PINKSTON: Well, the outside media, the world media, focus on North Korean belligerence, their threat and missile program and nuclear programs, which you should, of course, that is the top story. But few people realize or analyze very closely the North Korean political objectives, what the regime is trying to achieve and then what instruments they have and what strategies they develop to use those instruments to achieve their objectives.

So of course, they have military instruments for force or to use force, they can use coercion, they have a number of information operations and propaganda tools. In this case, they are using what they believe is soft power propaganda to further their objective. So it's a very important part of the Korean Workers' Party's activities.

Kim Yo-jong, who is Kim Jong-un's younger sister, she is the first vice director of the propaganda and agitation department so she's visiting here. So deploying these cheerleaders and other messages to show an image of North Korea as being a cooperative and a tolerant partner, create divisions in South Korea, this is also part of their tactics.

VAUSE: The other thing, of course, is that's all part of the grand plan by the North Koreans to drive this wedge between Seoul and Washington because President Moon Jae-in there Seoul is much more declined to take a softer stance, maybe engage directly with the North Koreans, much more so than the Trump administration.

PINKSTON: That's probably true. They are Koreans and the South Korean president has a constitutional obligation to seek a peaceful unification with the North. I think most Koreans believe they should work for that, even though the younger generation maybe has some doubts about that because of the cost.

But nevertheless, the president will pursue that. In the South and in the North they have different ideas about governance and how societies should be organized, the relationship between the state and its citizens, the social contract, how an economy should be organized.

It's vastly different. There are huge gaps there. And both leaders on each side have confidence in their system. I think there a number of inefficiencies and contradictions in the North. And I think when President Moon interacts with North Korea, these types of exchanges, I think President Moon believes and I tend to believe as well, that over time, at least hopefully, this will have an transformative effect on the North Koreans and eventually their attitudes and thinking will change.

VAUSE: And that's a better option than a bloody nose and a short- range tactical nuclear war, I guess.

Daniel, thank you for being with us, appreciate it.

PINKSTON: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Pausing here for a quick break. The 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea are on track to be the coldest -- well, to be much colder than the past games in Vancouver or Sochi. How PyeongChang is preparing for the chill -- next.





SESAY: Most Winter Olympic athletes are used to training in cold weather but conditions at the PyeongChang Olympics might be a challenge for others who aren't used to winter.

VAUSE: They're winter games.

SESAY: I'm just saying.

VAUSE: It's meant to be cold.

SESAY: There's cold.

But how cold?

SESAY: Seriously, man up. Cowboy up.

Temperatures have plunged --

SESAY: I'm fine but I'm not there.

VAUSE: -20 Celsius degrees at night. Barely risen above freezing during the day. But it's cold, it's winter, it's what's it's all about.

SESAY: You don't seem very sympathetic.

VAUSE: Here's Ivan Watson.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bundled up and ready for fun. The host city of the upcoming Winter Olympics getting ready to put on a show for the entire world.

With sunny blue skies, the atmosphere in PyeongChang is certainly festive but don't be fooled. This is set to be the coldest Winter Olympics in decades.

This week, Korean authorities issued a countrywide cold weather alert, warning that plunging temperatures could kill livestock and crops and be dangerous for people's health.

And in this cold country, host city PyeongChang is exceptionally cold.

WATSON: Is it true that this is one of the coldest places in South Korea?


WATSON (voice-over): Ahn Kwang-douk leads a team of scientists from 29 countries and agencies tracking weather patterns during the Olympics.

WATSON: What is NASA doing here at the Olympics?

MANUEL VEGA, NASA: We're part of the ice bob (ph) experiment. We brought several instruments, including dual frequency, dual polarized Doppler radar.

WATSON (voice-over): This team's findings help authorities issue warnings to the public.

VEGA: Safety here for the people attending the games and the event is a big concern and so I think that's one of the primary reasons for providing all this coverage in the area, driving conditions, hypothermia, frostbite.

WATSON: Are you cold right now?

VEGA: Yes, I am.


WATSON (voice-over): The big chill in PyeongChang is forcing Olympians to take extra precautions. Team USA have been equipped with special battery powered coats to help keep American athletes warm.

As for spectators, the Olympic Organizing Committee is distributing warm hats, blankets and cushions to ticket holders for the opening ceremony.

Some winter supplies can be purchased at just about any nearby convenience store.

WATSON: These heat chargers should part of everybody's Winter Olympics survival kit. They sell for the equivalent of about a dollar a piece. They're being distributed to speculators by the Olympic Committee. They can fit into your boots, into your gloves, beneath your clothes and shopkeepers tell us they're selling like hotcakes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're almost sold out.

WATSON: Almost sold out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. WATSON: At the end of the day, the Winter Olympics are about having fun in the cold, so dress appropriately, take precautions and make sure to have a good time -- Ivan Watson, CNN, PyeongChang, South Korea.


SESAY: Yes. I want no part of that.

VAUSE: He doesn't seem cold.



VAUSE: They built the stadium without a roof -- the main stadium, no roof -- because they thought that would be a good idea because it would happen a lot faster. They also didn't have enough money for central heating, they thought they'd save money on that as well.

Have fun at the opening ceremony. It's going to be really cold.

SESAY: We'll be thanking of you. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause, nice and warm. Stay tuned for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN.

SESAY: We can send Ivan a blanket.