Story highlights

CNN was granted extremely rare access to a senior North Korean official

He spoke candidly about rights abuses, North Korea's nuclear program and its economy

Said North Korea would strike United States if provoked

Pyongyang, North Korea CNN  — 

When officials informed us that we’d be granted a sit-down interview with a high-ranking member of North Korea’s inner circle with no preconditions, it was a real surprise.

Senior figures in Pyongyang don’t do interviews, especially not with the international press.

“I do not like talking to foreign media,” Park Yong Chol said frankly as we shook hands ahead of our meeting. He said that we report rumor and fabrication about his country.