The Intercept has a lengthy and very interesting interview with Suki Kim, author of the book ‘Without You There Is No Us‘.
According to The Intercept, Ms. Kim:
… spent much of 2011 teaching English to children of North Korea’s elite at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
Kim had visited North Korea several times before and had written about her experiences for Harper’s Magazine and the New York Review of Books. Incredibly, however, neither Kim’s North Korean minders nor the Christian missionaries who founded and run PUST realized that she was there undercover to engage in some of history’s riskiest investigative journalism.
Although all of PUST’s staff was kept under constant surveillance, Kim kept notes and documents on hidden USB sticks and her camera’s SIM card. If her notes had been discovered, she almost certainly would have been accused of espionage and faced imprisonment in the country’s terrifying labor camps. In fact, of the three Americans currently detained in North Korea, two were teachers at PUST. Moreover, the Pentagon has in fact used a Christian NGO as a front for genuine spying on North Korea.
But Kim was never caught, and she returned to the U.S. to write her extraordinary 2014 book, “Without You, There Is No Us.” The title comes from the lyrics of an old North Korean song; the “you” is Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father.
Here’s a short sample of what the article and Ms. Kim have to say about the country and the current nuclear crisis.
With the Kim family autocracy now on its third generation, you’d expect the people who actually run North Korea to have abandoned whatever ideology they started with, and have degenerated into standard human corruption. But PUST’s enrollees, their children, did not go skiing in Gstaad on school breaks; they didn’t even appear to be able to travel anywhere in North Korea. Instead they studied the North Korea ideology of “Juche,” or worked on collective farms.
Unsurprisingly, then, Kim’s students were shockingly ignorant of the outside world. They didn’t recognize pictures of the Taj Mahal or Egyptian pyramids. One had heard that everyone on earth spoke Korean because it was recognized as the world’s most superior language. Another believed that the Korean dish naengmyeon was seen as the best food on earth. And all Kim’s pupils were soaked in a culture of lying, telling her preposterous falsehoods so often that she writes, “I could not help but think that they – my beloved students – were insane.” Nonetheless, they were still recognizably human and charmingly innocent, and for their part came to adore their teachers.
Overall, “Without You, There Is No Us” is simply excruciatingly sad. All of Korea has been the plaything of Japan, the U.S., the Soviet Union, and China, and like most Korean families, Kim’s has close relatives who ended up in North Korea when the country was separated and have never been seen again. Korea is now, Kim says, irrevocably ruptured.
. . .
SUKI KIM: Nothing will change because it’s an unworkable problem. It’s very dishonest to think this can be solved. North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons. Never.
The only way North Korea can be dealt with is if this regime is not the way it is. No agreements are ever honored because North Korea just doesn’t do that. It’s a land of lies. So why keep making agreements with someone who’s never going to honor those agreements?
And ultimately what all the countries surrounding North Korea want is a regime change. What they’re doing is pretending to have an agreement saying they do not want a regime change, but pursuing regime change anyway.
Despite it all you have to constantly do engagement efforts, throwing information in there. That’s the only option. There’s no other way North Korea will change. Nothing will ever change without the outside pouring some resources in there.
There’s much more at the link. Sobering reading.