U.N. And North Korea Officials Agree Situation is Most Dangerous Security Issue in World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

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By ASSOCIATED PRESS

9:44 AM EST

(UNITED NATIONS) — The United Nations says its political chief and North Korea’s foreign minister agree that the current situation on the Korean peninsula is the most dangerous security issue in the world.

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman returned Friday from a four-day visit to North Korea, where he met with officials including North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric says Saturday that Feltman and his hosts agreed that the Korean situation is “the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue” in the world today.”

Feltman’s visit came at a time of high tension between North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the United States, sparked by North Korea’s frequent missile launches.

Dujarric says Feltman told the North Koreans there can only be a diplomatic solution.

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LIFE UNDER KIM JONG UN “THE GREAT SUCCESSOR”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

LIFE UNDER KIM JONG UN

Recent North Korean escapees relate how the secretive country has changed under the “Great Successor.”

Illustrations by Dominic Bugatto. Yoonjung Seo assisted in the reporting.

English

(영어)

Korean

(한국어)

“In North Korea, life only gets better if the state helps you. But these days, the state doesn’t help. We’re on our own.”

— The bride, now 23, from Hyesan. Escaped from North Korea in May 2017

When Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea almost six years ago, many North Koreans thought that their lives were going to improve. He offered the hope of generational change in the world’s longest-running communist dynasty. After all, he was so young. A millennial. Someone with experience of the outside world.

But the “Great Successor,” as he is called by the regime, has turned out to be every bit as brutal as his father and grandfather before him. Even as he has allowed greater economic freedom, he has tried to seal the country off more than ever, tightening security along the border with China and stepping up the punishments for those who dare to try to cross it. And at home, freedom of speech, and of thought, is still a mirage.

In six months of interviews in South Korea and Thailand, The Washington Post talked with more than 25 North Koreans from different walks of life who lived in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea and managed to escape from it. In barbecue restaurants, cramped apartments and hotel rooms, these refugees provided the fullest account to date of daily life inside North Korea and how it has changed, and how it hasn’t, since Kim took over from his father, Kim Jong Il, at the end of 2011. Many are from the northern parts of the country that border China — the part of North Korea where life is toughest, and where knowledge about the outside world just across the river is most widespread — and are from the relatively small segment of the population that is prepared to take the risks involved in trying to escape.

Some parts of their stories cannot be independently verified because of the secretive nature of the regime, and their names have been withheld to protect their family members still in North Korea. They were introduced to The Post by groups that help North Korean escapees, including No Chain for North KoreaWoorion and Liberty in North Korea.

But in talking about their personal experiences, including torture and the culture of surveillance, they recounted the hardships of daily life under Kim Jong Un’s regime. They paint a picture of a once-communist state that has all but broken down, its state-directed economy at a standstill. Today, North Koreans are making their own way, earning money in an entrepreneurial and often illegal fashion. There are only a few problems in North Korea these days that money can’t solve.

As life inside North Korea is changing, so too are people’s reasons for escaping.

Increasingly, North Koreans are not fleeing their totalitarian state because they are hungry, as they did during the 15 or so years following the outbreak of a devastating famine in the mid-1990s. Now, they are leaving because they are disillusioned.

Market activity is exploding, and with that comes a flow of information, whether as chitchat from traders who cross into China or as soap operas loaded on USB sticks. And this leads many North Koreans to dream in a way they hadn’t before.

Some are leaving North Korea because they want their children to get a better education. Some are leaving because their dreams of success and riches in the North Korean system are being thwarted. And some are leaving because they want to be able to speak their minds.

A NEW KIM AT THE HELM

“Standing at the forefront of the Korean revolution is Kim Jong Un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche [self reliance ideology] and outstanding leader of our party, army and people.”

Korean Central News Agency — Dec. 19, 2011

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

I could see how young he was, and I hoped that maybe things were going to get better. We were given some rations through our neighborhood association — we even got meat and fish — at the time he took over.

The preschooler

유치원생

From: Hoeryong, Age: 7

Escaped in 2014

I remember how fat he was. He had a very fat face like a pig.

As the regime started preparing for Kim’s succession, it put out a song that everyone in the country was made to learn, called “Footsteps.” The idea was that Kim was following in the footsteps of his father and would lead the country into a glorious future.

 3:42
Watch North Korea’s music video for its song ‘Footsteps’

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

We heard the song “Footsteps” and we were told to memorize it so [we] knew that he was going to be the leader after Kim Jong Il. We were told how great he was, that he could ride a horse when he was 5 years old and shoot a gun when he was 3. Of course we didn’t believe these things, but if you laughed or said anything, you’d be killed.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

I was in my second year at the university when this person was introduced to us as our new leader. I thought it was a joke. Among my closest friends, we were calling him a piece of s—. Everyone thinks this, but you can only say it to your closest friends or to your parents if you know that they agree.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

I created some kind of fantasy in my mind about Kim Jong Un. Because he was so young, I thought he was going to open North Korea’s doors, but after he took power and I lived three years under him, life became harder.

MONEY TALKS

In theory, North Korea is a bastion of socialism, a country where the state provides everything, including housing, healthcare, education and jobs. In reality, the state economy barely operates anymore. People work in factories and fields, but there is little for them to do, and they are paid almost nothing. A vibrant private economy has sprung up out of necessity, one where people find ways to make money on their own, whether through selling homemade tofu or dealing drugs, through smuggling small DVD players with screens called “notels” over the border or extracting bribes.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

North Korea technically has a centrally planned economy, but now people’s lives revolve around the market. No one expects the government to provide things anymore. Everyone has to find their own way to survive.

The hairdresser

미용사

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2016

I had to drop out of teachers college when I was 19 because my father became ill so I needed to work. I started doing people’s hair at my house. All the women wanted perms. I charged 30 [Chinese] yuan for a regular perm or 50 yuan for a perm with better products. But it was still hard to make money. [Thirty yuan is about $4.50.]

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

We lived in the city center, but we rented some land in the foothills of the mountains and grew corn there. During planting and harvest season, we would wake up at 4 a.m. and walk three hours to reach the farmland. We’d take a little break for lunch or a snack, then work until 8 p.m. before walking home again. Doing the weeding was the hardest because we had to get rid of them by hand. And we’d buy beans from the market and make tofu that we’d sell from our house. Our profit was less than 5,000 won [60 cents at the black market rate] a day. But because the bean price fluctuates, sometimes we were left with nothing at all.

North Koreans first learned how to be entrepreneurs during the famine, when they had to make money to survive. While men had to continue to show up for work in dormant factories, women would turn corn into noodles and keep a little for themselves but sell the rest so they could buy more corn for the following day. Homeless children would steal manhole covers to sell as scrap metal. Markets began to appear and took hold. North Koreans used to joke you could buy everything there except cats’ horns.

These days, you can probably buy cats’ horns, too.

 2:03
Look inside a market in North Korea

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

I had an aunt in Pyongyang who sold beans in the market there. I would buy what she needed from various farmers and get it to her. I’d pay people to pack up the beans into sacks, pay porters to take them to the station, get them onto the train. You have to smooth the way with money. My uncle is in the military, so his position provided protection for my aunt’s business. Of course, my aunt was the main earner in the house. It’s the women who can really make money in North Korea.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans now work outside the country, in lumber yards and garment factories and on construction sites, in China, Russia and other countries, earning foreign currency. Generally, two-thirds of their pay goes to the regime, and they’re allowed to keep the rest.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

I wanted to earn money for my family and buy a house, so I paid $100 to bribe my way into an overseas construction job. I was sent to St. Petersburg. We lived at the construction site and would work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or sometimes until midnight in the summer, then we’d go back to our dormitory to eat. We worked seven days a week, but we could finish early on Sundays — 7 p.m. — and that was nice. My whole purpose for being there was to make lots of money and go home proud of my achievement. I still remember the first time I got paid. It was 1,000 rubles. When I finished work at 10 p.m., I went to the store and saw that a bottle of beer was 27 rubles. I thought, wow I’m rich.

As the economy and the rules that govern it change, there are more and more gray areas that can be exploited. That means that illegal trade and activity have blossomed, too.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

I did so many things that I wasn’t supposed to do. I worked as a broker transferring money and connecting people in North Korea with people in South Korea through phone calls. I arranged reunions for them in China. I smuggled antiques out of North Korea and sold them in China. I sold ginseng and pheasants to China. And I dealt ice [methamphetamines.]. Officially, I was a factory worker, but I bribed my way out of having to go to work. If you don’t operate this way in North Korea, you have nothing.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

The salary for doctors was about 3,500 won a month. That was less than it cost to buy one kilogram of rice. So of course, being a doctor was not my main job. My main job was smuggling at night. I would send herbal medicine from North Korea into China, and with the money, I would import home appliances back into North Korea. Rice cookers, notels, LCD monitors, that kind of thing.

From the biggest cities to the smallest villages, there is now some kind of market building where people can sell their wares and keep their profits. Some are state-run, some are state-sanctioned, some are ad hoc. The markets have been retroactively legalized by the regime.

Money is now needed for nearly everything — even for the parts of communist life that the Kim regime crows about providing, like housing and schooling. Bribery and corruption have become endemic, undermining the regime by loosening controls and creating incentives that may not always be in line with Kim’s priorities.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Technically, you don’t have to pay to go to school, but the teachers tell you that you have to submit a certain amount of beans or rabbit skins that can be sold. If you don’t submit, you get told off continuously, and that’s why students stop going to school. The kids are hurt just because the parents can’t afford it.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

I used to pay the teachers at my daughter’s school so they would look after her better than others. I would give them 120,000 won at a time — that’s enough to buy 25 kilograms of rice — twice a year. If you don’t pay the teachers, they won’t make any effort.

The fisherman

어부

From: Ryongchon, Age: 45

Escaped in July 2017

I lived through all three Kims, but our life was not getting any better for any of us. We all have to pay for Kim Jong Un’s projects, like Ryomyong Street [a residential development in Pyongyang]. We had to contribute 15,000 North Korean won per household [more than four months’ salary] to the government for that street.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

My main business was selling ice. I think that 70 or 80 percent of the adults in Hoeryong city were using ice. My customers were just ordinary people. Police officers, security agents, party members, teachers, doctors. Ice made a really good gift for birthday parties or for high school graduation presents. It makes you feel good and helps you release stress, and it really helps relations between men and women. My 76-year-old mother was using it because she had low blood pressure, and it worked well. Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course, I didn’t charge them — they were my protection. They would come by during their lunch break, stop by my house. The head of the secret police in my area was almost living at my house.

“Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course I didn’t charge them — they were my protection.”

The ability to make money, sometimes lots of money, through means both legal and illegal has led to visible inequality in a country that has long touted itself as an egalitarian socialist paradise. This could be a potential source of disruption. Bean traders and drug dealers and everyone in between have the prospect of making a decent living. Those working only in official jobs, whether they be on a state-owned ostrich farm or in a government ministry in Pyongyang, earn only a few dollars a month and get little in the way of rations to supplement their meager salaries.

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

Skating rinks opened in 2013, and rollerblading became a really big thing. Rich kids had their own rollerblades. We’d carry them slung over our shoulders as we walked to the rink — it was a status symbol, a sign that you have money. I bought my rollerblades at the market. They were pink, and it cost 200 Chinese yuan. That’s the same price as 30 kilograms of rice. It’s unthinkable for poor kids.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

There were long periods where we didn’t get paid. I once went for six months without getting any salary at all. We lived in a shipping container at the construction site. We were given rice and cabbage and one egg per person per day, and we had an electric coil in our container that we could cook on. We needed some protein because our work was so hard, so we started buying pigskin at the market because it was cheap. Washing was like a special occasion. But if you went to the bathhouse, you would miss out on work. Once I didn’t bathe for two months. We didn’t think anything of it. It was just the way we lived.

“There were long periods where we didn’t get paid. I once went for six months without getting any salary at all.”

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

Cellphones are a big thing. To be able to afford a smartphone, you had to come from a rich family. Of course, there were some poor kids at my school, but I didn’t hang out with them. I had an Arirang smartphone that cost $400. When boys came up to talk to me, I’d check out their phone. If they had one of those old-style phones with buttons, I wasn’t interested.

The markets are the distribution point not just for goods, but also for information. Chatter, rumors, illicit foreign media.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Women make their living in the market, and while they’re sitting there at the stalls, they talk. So the market is a great place to learn about the outside world.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

I watched lots of [smuggled] movies and soap operas on USB sticks from the market. I would plug them into my TV. Vendors who are selling ordinary things like batteries or rice or whatever, they hide the USBs inside under the counter. When you go into the market you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today? That’s the code. USBs are also good because they are so easy to hide, and you can just break them if you get caught.

“When you go into the market you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today?”

The fisherman

어부

From: Ryongchon, Age: 45

Escaped in July 2017

In the past, if you watched Chinese movies on USBs you were okay. You got put in a labor camp only if you were caught with South Korean or American movies. But now, under Kim Jong Un, you get sent to a labor camp if you’re caught watching Chinese movies, too. The police and the security services and government officials live better these days. The more people they catch, the more money they earn.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

I was 8 years old when I started watching foreign movies. I always liked watching romantic South Korean dramas like “My Fair Lady.” I loved the way that women were being cherished. North Korea is a very male-oriented society, men never bother about taking care of women. And I liked to look at their fancy cars and houses.

The accordion player

아코디언 연주자

From: Hamhung, Age: 25

Escaped in 2015

My mom worked in the market selling home appliances, so she had a way to get DVDs. I watched Chinese, Indian and Russian movies, and lots of South Korean soap operas. I thought that if I got to South Korea, I could do anything I wanted.

REPRESSION AND DISILLUSIONMENT

It is impossible to overstate the pervasiveness of the personality cult surrounding the Kims in North Korea. Founding President Kim Il Sung, his son Kim Jong Il and his grandson, the current leader, Kim Jong Un form a kind of holy trinity in North Korea. There is no criticizing them or questioning the system — at least not without risking your freedom and the freedom of your entire family. Your life itself could be at stake.

The preschooler

유치원생

From: Hoeryong, Age: 7

Escaped in 2014

I learned songs about the general and about the Kim family and how great Kim Il Sung was.

The elementary schoolgirl

초등학생

From: Ryongchon, Age: 7

Escaped in July 2017

We got gifts on Kim Jong Un’s birthday: candy and cookies and gum and puffed rice. I was so grateful to him for giving me all these sweets. We would stand up in class and say, “Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.”

“We would stand up in class and say, ‘Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.’”

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

We had ideological education for 90 minutes every day. There was revolutionary history, lessons about Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un. Of course, they taught us about why we needed nuclear weapons, and they would tell us that we needed to make sacrifices in our daily lives so they could build these weapons and protect our country, keep the nation safe. I was so sick and tired of hearing about all this revolutionary history, I was so sick of calling everyone “comrade.” I didn’t care about any of that stuff.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

Everybody knew that Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were both liars, that everything is their fault, but it’s impossible to voice any opposition because we are under such tight surveillance. If someone is drunk and says Kim Jong Un is a son of a bitch, you’ll never see them again.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

It’s like a religion. From birth, you learn about the Kim family, learn that they are gods, that you must be absolutely obedient to the Kim family. The elites are treated nicely, and because of that they make sure that the system stays stable. But for everyone else, it’s a reign of terror. The Kim family uses terror to keep people scared, and that makes it impossible to stage any kind of social gathering, let alone an uprising.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

We had education sessions when we would go back to the main building and into a big room where there were portraits of the leaders. Everyone had to bow and buy bunches of flowers to lay in front of the portraits. There would be a speech by the boss, who was a party member. We would hear about how Kim Jong Un had done this and this and that [he] was working so hard for the party and for the nation and for the people. I believed it up until the Kim Jong Un era, but this exaggeration was just too much. It just didn’t make sense.

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

Every month there was special instruction about Kim Jong Un. It came down from Pyongyang to the neighborhood associations. We were told that Kim Jong Un wanted to know everything so that he could take proper care of everyone, help everyone. Nobody believed this because if Kim Jong Un knew we had no electricity and were eating corn rice [imitation rice made from ground corn], why wasn’t he doing anything about it?

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

There was this story going around that Kim Il Sung had asked Kim Jong Un to get him an apple. Kim Jong Un asked for a shovel because he wanted to bring the whole tree. It was the kind of joke that the secret police would create. Instead of just doing top-down teaching, they would also create stories like this [about devotion to the regime] because they thought that their propaganda would circulate better as rumors and would seem more convincing.

North Korea operates as a vast surveillance state, with a menacing state security department called the Bowibu as its backbone. Its agents are everywhere and operate with impunity.

The regime also operates a kind of neighborhood watch system. Every district in every town or city is broken up into neighborhood groups of 30 or 40 households, each with a leader who is responsible for coordinating grass-roots surveillance and encouraging people to snitch.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

People in each neighborhood association are always checking up on each other. If one family seems to be living better than everyone else, then all the neighbors try to find out how they are making their money. Everybody is sensitive because if someone seems to be living well, then people get jealous of that house. Nobody has to be asked to bring that wealthy family down and make sure that this wealthy family loses their money. When you see a family lose their house, that feels good. That’s why it’s important not to show off how wealthy you are.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Of course, I thought about the outside world, but if you say, “I want to go to China or South Korea,” then it can be reported by an informant to the security services. You can think it, but you can’t say it. You never know who is going to snitch on you. We often heard and saw how Chinese people had money because Chinese people used to come to North Korea to sell things, so we thought it would be nice to live there.

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

There were youth leaders who would patrol around, looking for things that we weren’t supposed to be doing. If you were wearing jeans or skinny pants, or if you had a manicure or your hair was too long, you would get in trouble. They would sometimes check your phone to see if you had any South Korean songs. I got busted for this, but I got out of it by buying them a box of 20 bottles of beer.

“They would sometimes check your phone to see if you had any South Korean songs.”

For those who ran afoul of the regime in ways that money could not solve, the punishment could be harsh.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

When I was 16, I was staying at my grandma’s house and there was a banging on the door late at night. Two secret police officers took me to the police station and asked me: “Where are your parents?” I told them I didn’t know. It turned out that they had gone missing and I suspected that my mom’s business associates, when they realized this, planted a whole lot of stuff on her, said that she was the mastermind behind this big smuggling operation. The police yelled at me: “You’re just like your mother. You probably have fantasies about China, too.” They slapped my face about five times.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

The first time I went to prison, I had been caught helping people make phone calls to their relatives in South Korea. I was sentenced to four months’ hard labor, building a road on the side of a mountain that they said we needed in case there was a war. The men did the digging and the women had to carry rocks and soil.

Escapees from North Korea’s gruesome political prisons have recounted brutal treatment over the years, including medieval torture with shackles and fire and being forced to undergo abortions by the crudest methods. Human rights activists say that this appears to have lessened slightly under Kim. But severe beatings and certain kinds of torture — including being forced to remain in stress positions for crippling lengths of time — are commonplace throughout North Korea’s detention systems, as are public executions.

 1:39
Clip: Kang Na-ra in the ‘Jangmadang Generation’

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

I was interrogated again by the secret police, and they wanted to know about my mother’s business. They were slapping me around the face again. They always go for the face. I was beaten severely that time. They pushed me so hard against the wall that I had blood coming from my head. I still get a headache sometimes. While I was there they made me sit with my legs crossed and my arms resting on my knees and my head always down. If you move at all or if you try to stretch your legs out, they will yell at you and hit you. I had to stay like that for hours on end.

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

In 2015, a money transfer went bad — the woman I’d given the money to got caught and she ratted on me — and I was put in detention. I spent two months there. I wasn’t treated like a human being — they beat me, they made me sit in stress positions where I couldn’t lift my head. Two times they slapped my face and kicked me during interrogation, but I was not beaten up badly. Maybe because I was not a nobody, maybe they feared that I knew someone who could get back at them.

Starvation is often part of the punishment, even for children. The 16-year-old lost 13 pounds in prison, weighing only 88 pounds when she emerged.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

We got up at 6 a.m. every day and went to bed at 11 p.m., and in between we would be working the whole time, shoveling cement or lugging sacks, except for lunch. Lunch was usually steamed corn. I was too scared to eat. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to live.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

Even though we were working so hard in prison camp, all we got to eat was a tiny bit of corn rice and a small potato. By the time I got out, I was so malnourished I could hardly walk.

It is this web of prisons and concentration camps, coupled with the threat of execution, that stops people from speaking up. There is no organized dissent in North Korea, no political opposition.

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The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

If you make problems, then your whole family gets punished. That’s why people don’t want to make any trouble. If I get punished for my wrongdoing, that’s one thing. But it’s my whole family that would be put at risk if I did something. North Koreans have seen that Kim Jong Un killed his own uncle, so we understand how merciless he can be. That’s why you can’t have an uprising in North Korea.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

The secret to North Korea’s survival is the reign of terror. Why do you think North Korea has public executions? Why do you think they block all communications? Why do you think North Koreans leave, knowing that they will never see their families again? It shows how bad things are. All our rights as people have been stripped away.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

If you speak out against the system, you will immediately be arrested. And if you do something wrong, then three generations of your family will be punished. In 2009, I heard there was a going to be some kind of coup launched in Chongjin and that all of the people involved were executed. When you hear about cases like this, of course you’re scared. So instead of trying to do something to change the system, it’s better just to leave.

Some people do leave, but not that many. It’s incredibly risky and logistically difficult to get around the border guards and the barbed wire. Unknown thousands cross into China each year. Some remain in China, almost always young women who get sold to poor Chinese men in the countryside who can’t get a wife any other way. Some get caught and sent back — to certain imprisonment.

The repatriated wife

송환 된 아내

From: Nampo, Age: 50

Escaped North Korea for the last time in 2016

I had lived in China for 20 years, but someone must have reported me. I was sent back to North Korea, and I spent two and a half years in a prison camp. [After she had left once more for China], I knew I couldn’t be repatriated again. I thought that it would be the end of my life.

But each year, a thousand or so North Koreans make it to South Korea. In the 20-odd years since the famine, only 30,000 North Koreans have made it to the southern side of the peninsula.

During the late 1990s and the early 2000s, almost all the North Koreans who fled were escaping out of hunger or economic need. But the explosion of markets has improved life for many. Today, more people are leaving North Korea because they are disillusioned with the system, not because they can’t feed their families.

The accordion player

아코디언 연주자

From: Hamhung, Age: 25

Escaped in 2015

I was ambitious. I wanted to be a party member and enjoy all the opportunities that come with that. My dream was to make lots of money and be a high-ranking government official. Family background means so much in North Korea, but I had family in China and I realized that this would stop me from being able to follow my dreams. I left because I didn’t have the freedom to do what I wanted to do.

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

I wanted to progress in life, I wanted to go to university, but because my mother had defected to China, it looked like I wouldn’t be able to go any further. It looked like I would be stuck in North Korea where I was. I could have moved, lived, no problem, but I felt like I didn’t have any future in North Korea. That’s why I decided to leave.

The meat delivery guy

고기 배달원

From: Undok, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

We were told in school that we could be anybody. But after graduation, I realized that this wasn’t true and that I was being punished for somebody else’s wrongdoing. I realized I wouldn’t be able to survive here. So for two years, I looked for a way out. When I thought about escaping, it gave me a psychological boost.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

I hoped to work abroad as a doctor in the Middle East or Africa. But to work overseas you have to pass security screening to make sure you’re ideologically sound and aren’t going to defect. That’s a problem that money can’t solve and that’s where I got blocked. I was very angry, very annoyed. I cursed our society. I am a very capable person, and I was a party member, but even I couldn’t make it.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

I worked for three and a half years, but I made only $2,000 during that time. We were allowed to work overseas for five years maximum, and I was hoping to save $10,000 and return home proud. I realized it wasn’t going to happen, so I started looking for a chance to escape.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

I was so disgusted with the system. I didn’t have the freedom to speak my mind, or to travel anywhere I wanted, or even to wear what I wanted. It was like living in a prison. We were monitored all the time by our neighborhood leader, by the normal police, by the secret police. If you ask me what was the worst thing about North Korea, I’d say: Being born there.

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North Korea and China announce visit by Xi Jinping envoy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AND THE NORTH KOREAN NEWS ‘DPRK’)

 

North Korea and China announce visit by Xi Jinping envoy

Unclear if illegal nuclear program is on the agenda after Donald Trump asked Chinese president to put pressure on neighbor

Donald Trump has called on Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea.
 Donald Trump has called on Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

A senior Chinese diplomat will visit North Korea from Friday as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing has said, without revealing whether it is about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

China has pushed for a diplomatic solution to the crisis but in recent months has had only limited high-level exchanges with North Korea. The last time China’s special envoy for North Korea visited the country was in February 2016.

In a brief dispatch, the official Xinhua news agency said Song Tao, who heads the Communist party’s external affairs department, would “inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK”. CPC refers to China’s recently concluded Communist party congress at which Xi further cemented his power.

North Korea’s KCNA news agency confirmed the visit but said only that it would take place “soon”.

The trip will come a week after Donald Trump visited Beijing as part of a lengthy Asia tour where he pressed for greater action to rein in North Korea, especially from China, with which North Korea does 90% of its trade.

It is not clear how long Song could stay but he has already visited Vietnam and Laos to inform them of the results of the Congress, a typical courtesy China extends other communist countries after such important meetings.

It is also unclear where Song will meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Kim and Xi exchanged messages of congratulations and thanks to the Chinese party congress but neither has visited the other’s country since assuming power.

Song’s department is in charge of the party’s relations with foreign political parties and has traditionally served as a conduit for Chinese diplomacy with North Korea.

A department official said in October that China’s Communist party continued to hold talks and maintain contacts with its North Korean counterpart, describing the two countries’ friendship as important for regional stability.

China’s new special envoy for North Korea, Kong Xuanyou, who took up his position in August, is not believed to have visited the country yet.

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Xi Jinping And Kim Jong Un Kiss And Make Friendly (Their True Face Shows)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NORTH KOREAN NEWSPAPER JOONGANG DAILY)

 

Xi responds to Pyongyang’s congratulations

Nov 03,2017

이미지뷰

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for sound and stable ties between Beijing and Pyongyang in a message to the regime’s leader Kim Jong-un, according to North Korean state-run media Thursday.

“I wish that under the new situation the Chinese side would make efforts with the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] side to promote relations between the two parties and the two countries to sustainable soundness and stable development,” Xi said in the message dated Wednesday, according to the North’s official news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), “and thus make a positive contribution to… defending regional peace and stability and common prosperity.”

Xi was responding to a congratulatory message sent by Kim for the successful conclusion of the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party last week, and expressed his “sincere thanks” to the North Korean leader.

He went onto wish the North Korean people success in the “cause of socialist construction” under the leadership of Kim Jong-un.

Through the party congress, which comes every five years, Xi cemented his grip on power, emerging as possibly the strongest Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

In a short message on Oct. 25, Kim wished success to Xi and called for relations between North Korea and China to “develop in the interests of the peoples of the two countries.”

Xi’s message was also published on the front page of the North’s official Rodong Sinmun Thursday and comes as ties between North Korea and China have become more strained as Beijing partakes in international efforts to sanction the regime for its nuclear and missile weapons tests and threats.

Kim’s message was considered to be terser than previous ones, reflecting a coolness between the two governments. In the same way, Xi’s message to Kim Wednesday included cautionary terms, such as “defending regional peace and stability.”

The two leaders have yet to meet.

Kim last received a congratulatory message from Xi on July 11, 2016 – 16 months ago – to mark the 55th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between North Korea and China. It said the two countries planned to boost strategic understanding, promote exchanges and cooperation and continue to develop bilateral relations.

In June 2016, North Korean senior envoy Ri Su-yong headed a large-scale delegation to Beijing and personally delivered a message from Kim to Xi expressing the desire to bolster traditionally friendly relations between the two countries and explaining the results of the Workers’ Party’s seventh congress the previous month.

Xi’s message comes days ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia, which includes stops in Japan, South Korea and China. Trump, who visits China from Nov. 8 to 10, is expected to pressure Beijing to do more to rein in North Korea and push for a better balance in trade.

It also comes as Seoul and Beijing agreed to put bilateral relations back on a “normal track” after a year-long freeze over the deployment of a U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery in South Korea.

Analysts have pointed out that China is in an awkward position as North Korea continues to launch ballistic missiles and conduct nuclear tests – its latest and most powerful one to date on Sept. 3 – and Washington is demanding Beijing to use more influence on its neighbor.

As its relations have become more strained with China, North Korea has been cooperating more with Russia recently.

“Pyongyang and Beijing relations have become estranged as China has taken part in the international community’s sanctions against North Korea led by the United States,” a government official in Seoul pointed out, “and the exchange of messages on the occasion of the Chinese party congress can serve as an occasion to restore bilateral relations.”

North Korea expert Chin Hee-gwan, a professor at Inje University, told the JoongAng Ilbo Thursday that while Pyongyang and Beijing share an extremely intimate relationship, “The recent congratulatory message and response shows indications of restoration of relations, but the contents show that the usual emphasis of traditional friendly relations is missing. We will have to continue to watch for North Korea’s further provocations or China’s response.”

BY SARAH KIM, JEONG YONG-SOO [[email protected]]

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Says They Will Detonate Nuke Over Pacific

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

A senior North Korean official has issued a stern warning to the world that it should take “literally” his country’s threat to test a nuclear weapon above ground.

The official, Ri Yong Pil, told CNN in an exclusive conversation in Pyongyang that the threat made by North Korea’s foreign minister last month should not be dismissed. North Korea “has always brought its words into action,” Ri said, visibly angry.
Speaking on a visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly last month, Ri Yong Ho, the foreign minister, raised the possibility that North Korea could test a powerful hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean. The threat came hours after US President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea in a speech to the UN.
“The foreign minister is very well aware of the intentions of our supreme leader, so I think you should take his words literally,” Ri told CNN in Pyongyang.
North Korea carried out the strongest of its six-ever nuclear tests in early September, claiming to have used a hydrogen bomb.
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The UN responded to the test by imposing fresh sanctions on the rogue state.
North Korea’s continued threats have put its neighbors in the Pacific on high alert. In September, Pyongyang flew a ballistic missile over Japan. When North Korea it carried out its sixth nuclear test, it claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb that could fit atop a ballistic missile.
And during the back-and-forth barbs with Washington, Pyongyang at one point said it would fire missiles into the waters off the US Pacific territory of Guam.
Ri also implied that diplomatic channels between the US and North Korea were nonexistent, despite US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterating over months that they are still open.
“The US is talking about a military option and even practicing military moves. They’re pressuring us on all fronts with sanctions. If you think this will lead to diplomacy, you’re deeply mistaken,” Ri said.
Ri’s remarks come after Trump on Sunday boasted that the US was “prepared for anything” when it came to the North Korea nuclear crisis.
“We’ll see what happens. … We are so prepared, like you wouldn’t believe,” he said in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
“You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be,” he added.
“Would it be nice not to do that? The answer is yes. Will that happen? Who knows, who knows, Maria.”
President Trump will be in South Korea during his trip to Asia next month but will most likely forgo a visit to the heavily fortified border with between North Korea, a senior White House official told CNN.

(Playing Nuclear War Game With A Game Show Host As Prezz?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Donald Trump is treating a potential war like a reality show cliffhanger

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump hosted his top military brass and their spouses for dinner at the White House on Thursday night. The group posed for a photo. Then this exchange with reporters happened:

Trump: “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”
Reporter: “What’s the storm?”
Trump: “It could be … the calm, the calm before the storm.”
Reporter: “Iran? ISIS? What storm, Mr. President?”
Trump: “We have the world’s great military people in this room, I will tell you that. And uh, we’re gonna have a great evening, thank you all for coming.”
Reporter: “What storm, Mr. President?”
Trump: “You’ll find out.”
What. The. Hell. Is. Happening.
To be clear: Trump didn’t have to say anything. Reporters shout questions at these photo-ops all the time. Presidents ignore them all the time. So he did this on purpose. He wanted to say this — so he did.
And then he did it again! On Friday afternoon, at another photo op, a reporter asked Trump what he meant by his comments Thursday night. According to the pool report, Trump winked and said “you’ll find out.”
Now as for what he said: When you say “maybe it’s the calm before the storm” when surrounded by the top military leaders in the country, it doesn’t take much of a logical leap to conclude there is some sort of military operation in the offing.
That’s especially true when you have two situations — North Korea and Iran — that appear to be coming to a head.
In regard to North Korea, Trump tweeted last weekend that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man” — the latest verbal provocation between Trump and the North Korean dictator. That rhetorical back-and-forth comes amid Kim Jong Un’s repeated testing of missiles and refusal to stop his nuclear program.
When it comes to Iran, Trump is expected next week to “decertify” the Iranian nuclear deal crafted by President Barack Obama. Trump has been a longtime critic of the deal, insisting that Iran had not kept up its end of the agreement. (The decertification process will allow Congress 60 days to adjust the pact.)
Which situation was Trump talking about with his “calm before the storm” remark? Both? Neither? We don’t know, because Trump wouldn’t say.
That, too, was on purpose.
Why? Because the bulk of Trump’s experiences directly before running for president was as a reality TV star and producer. (In truth, Trump has been performing in a reality show of his own making for his entire life.) And, in that role, the goal is always to stoke drama, always do everything you can to keep people watching — through the commercial, through the hour, through to next week’s episode. Cliffhangers are the best way to do that — stoking speculation, reversing expectations and, above all, ensuring people feel compelled to just keep watching.
“Dallas” fans in the 1980s spent months waiting to find out who shot J.R. “Game of Thrones” fans waited with bated breath to find out whether Jon Snow was alive or dead.
Stay tuned! Who knows what will happen next!
Or, in the words of Trump on Thursday night, “you’ll find out.”
The thing is: The stakes of a reality TV show are roughly zero. The stakes of diplomacy with rogue nations pursuing nuclear weapons are incredibly high.
What’s not clear at the moment is whether Trump understands that difference. Whether he gets that by saying things such as “maybe this is the calm before the storm,” he is flicking at the possibility of an armed conflict — and the world is paying attention.
The “does he know what he’s doing or is he just doing it?” conundrum sits at the heart of virtually every move Trump has made as a candidate and now as President. What’s more dangerous with this latest loose talk, however, is that even if Trump is just saying things to hype up the drama rather than to warn of an actual impending military action, he (and we) have no way of knowing if Iran, North Korea or any other potential target understands that.
This is no reality show. And Trump isn’t the producer, controlling all the players. His words — whether he means them as a tease, a threat or something in between — can have very real consequences.
Does Trump get any of that? We’ll find out.

Trump’s Ego Is Now “Playing” With The Safety Of The Whole World

Trump’s Ego Is Now “Playing” With The Safety Of The Whole World

 

The man with no ethics and no morals is the ‘Leader’ of the free world, may God have mercy on us all. The man is a self-absorbed habitual liar who keeps telling the people of the whole world “trust me” then lies to you in his next sentence.

 

For the folks who 9 months ago when Donald Trump took the Oath of Office who were thinking, how bad can he be, he has to be better than these career politicians, right? Wrong!  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that Hillary would have also been a disaster as President, just a different kind of disaster. Hillary may have been the most qualified person in American history to have become President, it was her long line of personal demons that kept her out of Office. Trump has just as many or more personal demons that Hillary, it’s just that most of the American people were not aware of them yet, in this past year we have been learning.

 

Donald Trump is all about ego, the whole world is about him. I could live with the ego as it is a reality that few people can reach great heights in the political world without a great belief in themselves. Trumps constant lying is also difficult for me personally because of how I feel about liars, as you should know, there is no way to trust them on anything that they say. Yet today, the issue I am going to talk with you about is the fact that this man is clueless on basically everything except on how to screw over everyone he deals with.

 

Mr. Trump is all about being a winner, no matter what the cost to others. The past few days there have been constant news articles about how Mr. Trump is planning to scrap the Iran Nuclear Agreement. Doing this he is going against the advice of basically every expert in this field within his administration. The top leaders within the Republican and Democratic Parties have come out against trashing the current agreement as well as basically all of the leaders of the European Nations. All leaders of the Nations who helped create the agreement have told Mr. Trump not to scrape it, that it is not in the best interest of the world to scrap this deal. May folks besides Mr. Trump think that this is not a very good overall deal with Iran, yet they do say that this deal is a whole lot better than no deal at all. The experts in the field say that if he scraps the agreement that Iran could have a nuke within a year, under the current deal most articles I have read on the issue say that under the current agreement it will take them at least 10 years. So, the current agreement is a lousy one yet the experts around the world say we can build on this current agreement to try to create peace with the Mullah’s in Tehran.

 

Now, concerning the crazy little fat boy in North Korea and his missile programs. Mr. Trump has acted like a first grade bully who meets another on the playground who is just as ignorant as he is. Usually in cases like this they send in proxies to fight for them, just like the big Nations tend to do. Mr. Trump has behaved like a little spoiled brat (that he actually is) toward another little spoiled brat in Mr. Kim. Thing is that these two over grown children both have nuclear weapons, so the question now is, who blinks first?

 

Mr. Trump want’s a ‘win’, he is willing to make his own party in Congress/Senate look bad on these Nuclear issues, as long as he feels like he wins. I sometimes wonder who the biggest idiot is in the realm of global leaders, I now know how I would answer that quiz question if it were asked of me. I used to think that the biggest idiot that I personally had seen in the Oval Office was George W Bush yet he is a genius compared to this total idiot sitting in that chair now. The world is filled with very dangerous people who are the rulers of Nations as well as leaders of Terrorist organizations. We the American people need a level-headed, honest person in the Oval Office who truly does, put America first. I do not know if we the people will ever be allowed to vote for an honest intelligent person for our President, but it is totally obvious that this egomaniac we have in Office now, is not such a person. Folks, this mans ego could cost several million lives, this is not a reality TV program and it is not a board game, it is a very deadly game that requires intelligent leaders and we do not have one of those sitting in the Oval Office.

It Is Time For China To Remove Kim Jong Un From Power In North Korea

 

I read a lot of newspapers, news articles and blogs from all over the world everyday. I am just like most everyone in that I take this presumed knowledge, add it to my own moral and spiritual knowledge and come up with what I believe. I then write it down here in this Blog for you to consider. As most of you know the newspapers in China and in North Korea are highly controlled by their governments. When you read these ‘State’ newspapers and you come across articles where State policy concerning their economy, military or security is concerned you can believe that the article is sanctioned by the government itself. When you read opinions of the country’s leaders you know darn well that the one doing the typing didn’t dare to just make things up.

 

In the past couple of months China has made it very plain to the U.S. and our Allies that if we strike North Korea first that they will back North Korea with their own military. Yet what is the ‘free world’ suppose to do, sit on their hands until the “little rocket boy” decides to nuke us? Kim Jong Un has made it very plain that his intentions is to create one Korea, with himself as the Supreme Ruler. He has also been threatening to nuke Japan out of existence as well as to nuke the U.S.. No sane person would ever let those words ever slip from their lips, then again is China or the world dealing with someone who is sane in North Korea or for that matter, in the Oval Office? The people of the United States do not have any issue with the citizens of North Korea nor with the citizens of China.

 

China has also made it very clear that they will never tolerate a U.S. friendly government to be put into place where North Korea is now located. So, what are the options for China right now? If the U.S. and it’s Allies strike at North Korea I hope that the strike is surgical in that it takes out North Korea’s missiles, especially their nukes, and that the strike kills the ‘crazy little fat boy’. I personally do not want to see another Iraq where the citizens end up suffering from our actions. I do not want to see a U.S. ‘occupation force’ ever put in place there either. Yet some of these things are going to happen and they are going to happen soon, unless China steps in and removes this little crazy boy with the bad haircut, very soon. If China does not want a non-communist government located on their eastern doorstep then President Xi Jinping is going to have to grow some balls and do what has to be done and that is to replace Kim Jong Un by any means they feel is necessary. Once the North Korean idiot live fires at the U.S. or any of our Allies, China’s chance to not have a war on their doorstep is over, their window of opportunity will be closed forever.

North Korea Is A Land Of Unspeakable Executions And Horrors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DAILY CALLER)

 

RYAN PICKRELL
China/Asia Pacific Reporter

North Korea is a land of truly unspeakable horrors, according to the tales of defectors who escaped the oppressive grip of the Kim family.

One defector — Hee Yeon Lim (this name was changed for security reasons) — is the daughter of an army colonel who witnessed firsthand Kim Jong Un’s cruelty. She recently described the brutal executions that occur on a regular basis, revealing how anti-aircraft gun ammunition ripped men to shreds.

Hee Yeon, 26, and a member of the Pyongyang elite who fled the country two years ago, saw Kim execute around a dozen musicians for producing a video considered undesirable by the regime.

“We were ordered to leave our classes by security men and made to travel to the Military Academy in Pyongyang. There is a sports ground there, a kind of stadium,” Hee Yeon told the Mirror from a secure location in Seoul.

“The musicians were brought out, tied up, hooded and apparently gagged, so they could not make a noise, not beg for mercy or even scream,” Hee Yeon explained. “They were lashed to the end of anti-aircraft guns.”

“A gun was fired, the noise was deafening, absolutely terrifying and the guns were fired one after the other,” she said. “The musicians just disappeared each time the guns were fired into them. Their bodies were blown to bits, totally destroyed, blood and bits flying everywhere.”

“And then after that military tanks moved in and they ran over the bits,” Hee Yeon added, explaining that the tanks ran over the remains over and over again to “grind the remains, to smash them into the ground until there was nothing left.”

What she saw made her sick to her stomach.

“There were around 10,000 people ordered to watch that day and I was standing 200 feet from these victims,” she told reporters.

Such executions are believed to be common. Ri Jong Ho, a former senior civil servant, revealed that in the early days of Kim’s reign of terror, the young dictator murdered hundreds of people. “The regime killed hundreds of people, including officials, their friends, their families, and even children with heavy machine guns,” Ri told Voice of America in June.

Kim reportedly executed five senior officials by anti-aircraft gun for providing false information earlier this year, and he did the same to a senior official who dozed off during a meeting with the supreme leader last summer.

Hee Yeon revealed that Kim’s henchman plucked North Korean schoolgirls from their homes to work as sex slaves.

“Officials came to our schools and picked out teenage girls to work at one of his ‘hundreds’ of homes around Pyongyang,” Hee Yeon said. “They take the prettiest and ensure they have straight, good legs.”

“They have to sleep with him and they cannot make a mistake or object because they could very easily simply disappear,” she explained to reporters, citing reports from one of her friends.

In U.N. speech, Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy North Korea’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

In U.N. speech, Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy North Korea’ and calls Kim Jong Un ‘Rocket Man’

 September 19 at 12:36 PM
 Play Video 2:33
Trump attacks ‘depraved’ North Korean regime
President Trump harshly criticized North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un at the U.N. on Sept. 19, calling him “Rocket Man” and threatening to “totally destroy North Korea” if need be. (The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — President Trump warned the United Nations in a speech Tuesday that the world faces “great peril” from rogue regimes with powerful weapons and terrorists with expanding reach across the globe, and called on fellow leaders to join the United States in the fight to defeat what he called failed or murderous ideologies and “loser terrorists.”

“We meet at a time of immense promise and great peril,” Trump said in his maiden addressto more than 150 international delegations at the annual U.N. General Assembly. “It is up to us whether we will lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.”

The president’s address was highly anticipated around the world for signs of how his administration would engage with the United Nations after he had criticized the organization during his campaign as being bloated and ineffective, and threatened to slash U.S. funding.

Trump offered a hand to fellow leaders but also called on them to embrace “national sovereignty” and to do more to ensure the prosperity and security of their own countries. Over and over, he stressed the rights and roles of “strong, sovereign nations” even as they band together at the United Nations.

“I will always put America first just like you, the leaders of your countries, should put your countries first,” Trump said, returning to a campaign theme and the “America First” phrase that has been criticized as isolationist and nationalistic.

The president warned of growing threats from North Korea and Iran, and he said, “The scourge of our planet is a group of rogue regimes.”

The North Korean delegation was seated, by chance, in the front row, mere feet from the U.N. podium.

Trump praised the United Nations for enacting economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. But he emphasized that if Kim Jong Un’s regime continued to threaten the United States and to destabilize East Asia, his administration would be prepared to defend the country and its allies.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said, before calling Kim by a nickname he gave the dictator on Twitter over the weekend. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

Trump added, “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”

Trump is scheduled to have a trilateral meeting Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss the situation. He spoke separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is not attending this year’s General Assembly.

Following the speech, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sought to temper the idea that Trump’s remarks about North Korea were a break from past U.S. policy.

Presidents have always been clear to deter threats: “We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals” –@BarackObama last year

Trump also called the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal “one of the worst and most one-sided” agreements ever, and “an embarrassment” to the United States. His voice rising, Trump strongly hinted that his administration could soon declare Tehran out of compliance. That could potentially unravel the accord. Trump and his top aides have been critical of Iran for its support of terrorism in the Middle East.

“I don’t think you’ve heard the end of it,” Trump said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beamed as he and his wife, Sara, listened to Trump speak. The Israeli leader, an opponent of the international nuclear deal with Iran, was also addressing the world body later Tuesday, a day earlier than usual because he is leaving the gathering in time to spend the Jewish holy days in Israel.

“In more than 30 years of my acquaintance with the U.N., I have not heard a more courageous and sharp speech,” Netanyahu, a former Israeli ambassador to the body, said after Trump’s remarks. “President Trump told the truth about the dangers lurking in the world, and called to face them forcefully to ensure the future of mankind.”

In a meeting with media executives Tuesday shortly before Trump’s address, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran has complied fully with its commitments under the nuclear deal and predicted the United States will be the loser if it “tramples upon” the 2015 agreement.

“Everyone will clearly see that Iran has lived up to its agreements and that the United States is therefore a country that cannot be trusted,” Rouhani said.

“We will be the winners,” he added, while the United States “will certainly sustain losses.”

Rouhani also seemed to suggest a U.S. withdrawal would free Iran from its obligations under the deal, which lifted nuclear-related sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

“It will mean that this agreement has seen a foundational problem, and under those conditions, Iran will be freed to choose another set of conditions,” he said.

In his speech, Trump pledged that his administration would support the United Nations in its goals of pursuing peace, but he was sharply critical of the organization, and its member nations, for not living up to the promise of its founding in 1945.

“We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, values or systems of government,” he said. “But we do expect all nations to uphold their core sovereignty and respect the interests of their own people and rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution and the foundation for cooperation and success.”

The president also focused on the growing threats of “radical Islamic terrorism,” a phrase he had left out of other recent speeches, including a prime time address to the nation on his Afghanistan strategy. He declared that his administration would not allow “loser terrorists” to “tear up our nation or tear up the entire world.”

But Trump also cautioned that areas of the world “are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.” He spent a portion of the speech decrying the “disastrous rule” of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, whose authoritarian regime has sent the country into political and economic crisis.

“It is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch,” Trump said, calling on the United Nations to help the Venezuelan people “regain their freedom and recover their country and restore their democracy.”

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He did not address some aspects of his foreign policy that have alarmed foreign leaders, including the proposed temporary ban on immigration for several Muslim-majority nations, a border wall with Mexico or the planned U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

He appeared to answer international criticism of sweeping new restrictions on refugee resettlement by saying that the United States is helping refugees in other ways. Washington can help 10 people displaced in their home regions for the cost of moving one to the United States, Trump said.

Near the end of his remarks, Trump asked rhetorically: “Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and take ownership of their futures?”

Martin Baron contributed to this report. 

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