Trump-Kim summit: What North Korean defectors think will happen

CNN's Paula Hancocks speaks to three North Korean defectors and asks their opinions on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's upcoming summit with President Donald Trump.

Posted: Feb 25, 2019 8:40 AM
Updated: Feb 25, 2019 8:40 AM

Arguably no group is more surprised by the rapidly changing image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un than the 30,000 people who successfully escaped his country for a new life in the south.

As Kim prepares for his second summit with US President Donald Trump, these defectors provide a unique insight into life in Pyongyang.

What do they think of Kim's standing in the world? Has their view of him been affected by recent events? And will he agree to denuclearization for the sake of economic benefits?

Quotes have been slightly edited for clarity and condensed

What about human rights?

Everything is ridiculous. What's happening here is Kim Jong Un and his younger sister became like top celebrities in this country (South Korea).

I mean these are dictators. So people seem to have forgot about what he's done to his own people.

And the big problem is ever since he (Kim) visited Panmunjom (the Joint Security Area between North and South Korea) nobody wants to talk about human rights. It's so absurd.

Human rights vocabulary had disappeared long ago after the new government. But it seems even in the US, it is kind of disappearing.

When President Trump met us, it was last year.

The focus was human rights issues. So during 50 minutes he only talked about North Korean human rights issues. I was so grateful for that. He was the only leader in the world who focused on the human rights issue. All the world was watching him but during the Singapore summit, I never heard him mention human rights.

What about denuclearization?

What I'm really concerned about is in the last few months ... the issue of a nuclear weapons list is slightly disappearing from the American's agenda. President Trump is only talking about the stop of nuclear provocations by Kim Jong Un or the stopping of any nuclear missile launches.

I think if Trump goes on that kind of partial nuclear disarmament process instead of denuclearization process, there is no hope for South Korea or America to reach the final denuclearization of North Korea. I'd like to advise President Trump to stay on denuclearization.

If he fails in nuclear disarmament process with Kim Jong Un and agrees to something like partially destroying North Korea's nuclear capability while allowing North Korea to keep its capability to attack with nuclear weapons, then I think North Korea would be easily accepted as a nuclear state in this region.

I don't trust Kim Jong Un, and it is wishful thinking that Kim Jong Un would abandon his nuclear program. Kim Jong Un will never give up his nuclear program.

What about the economy?

North Korea ambitiously declared that it'll develop the economy, but the system of monopoly which the country owns and controls everything will not be able to bring economic development.

We learned the lesson from Russia and China when they opened their labor markets and lifted travel bans, the economic development was realized.

It's the same for Mongolia. When it reformed and opened the market, people voluntarily went abroad and sent money back home to their families.

North Korea sends out labor workers abroad but the regime takes about 80% of the income. The regime cannot efficiently allocate the money as government officials are corrupt. If regular North Koreans can keep more money, most of it will end up helping the domestic economy.

As far as I know, North Koreans are getting everything they need from the jangmadang (local markets in North Korea).

The markets are dominating the North Korean economy but there is no system that protects assets of these players. Their property can be seized any time for any reasons by the regime. Even though the markets are run based on the demand and supply, it is still functions at the individual level.

For example, a person who prints out calendars gets orders and sells them, but production of those calendars in government-owned factories is not decided by demand.

That is why I don't think Kim Jong Un's economic policy cannot succeed without opening its labor market and conducting reform measures.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60101

Reported Deaths: 1689
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19057831
Ramsey7444265
Dakota4334104
Anoka3618114
Stearns288620
Washington207744
Nobles17626
Olmsted171823
Scott153218
Mower10992
Rice10298
Blue Earth9115
Wright8695
Carver8413
Clay77940
Sherburne7188
Kandiyohi6891
St. Louis52119
Lyon4263
Todd4242
Freeborn3591
Steele3451
Nicollet33313
Benton3203
Watonwan3080
Winona25916
Crow Wing23214
Beltrami2230
Le Sueur2171
Martin2075
Chisago1991
Otter Tail1933
Goodhue1929
Cottonwood1770
McLeod1730
Pipestone1559
Becker1521
Polk1504
Waseca1480
Douglas1391
Itasca13812
Unassigned13741
Carlton1350
Pine1290
Dodge1260
Isanti1230
Murray1221
Chippewa1031
Wabasha910
Morrison891
Brown882
Faribault870
Meeker852
Rock830
Sibley832
Jackson810
Koochiching773
Pennington751
Mille Lacs713
Cass692
Fillmore640
Renville635
Lincoln570
Grant533
Swift521
Yellow Medicine520
Roseau470
Pope460
Aitkin401
Houston390
Norman390
Redwood360
Kanabec341
Wilkin343
Hubbard330
Marshall300
Mahnomen261
Wadena260
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake200
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle70
Cook30
Kittson30
Lake of the Woods20

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48398

Reported Deaths: 925
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10223207
Woodbury371652
Black Hawk311566
Linn234887
Johnson206719
Dallas187835
Buena Vista179112
Scott171614
Dubuque166531
Marshall143826
Pottawattamie131426
Story116014
Wapello88133
Muscatine84648
Webster8017
Crawford7273
Sioux6253
Cerro Gordo60917
Warren5571
Tama54929
Jasper47626
Wright4651
Plymouth4579
Dickinson3804
Clinton3793
Louisa37814
Washington29810
Boone2553
Hamilton2461
Franklin23910
Bremer2247
Clarke1993
Emmet1914
Carroll1881
Clay1861
Shelby1831
Hardin1780
Des Moines1692
Marion1690
Poweshiek1578
Benton1551
Allamakee1544
Floyd1532
Jackson1511
Mahaska13917
Cedar1311
Guthrie1315
Jones1302
Buchanan1271
Hancock1222
Butler1212
Henry1203
Madison1182
Pocahontas1152
Lee1133
Lyon1132
Delaware1111
Cherokee1081
Humboldt1081
Harrison1060
Clayton1043
Taylor980
Iowa971
Winneshiek951
Page940
Monona910
Kossuth890
Mills890
Palo Alto840
Sac840
Calhoun832
Jefferson830
Osceola830
Fayette820
Grundy791
Winnebago790
Mitchell780
Union771
Monroe727
Cass711
Worth660
Lucas634
Montgomery594
Davis551
Chickasaw540
Howard490
Appanoose483
Fremont420
Greene410
Keokuk341
Van Buren341
Adair290
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur230
Ringgold211
Wayne191
Adams160
Unassigned70
Rochester
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Mason City
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Austin
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
Charles City
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Scattered Storms, Warm & Humid
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Rochester Area Restore celebrates 6 years

Image

Saturday Weather

Image

Grief mask making workshop

Image

Mace's Weather 8/8

Image

Tractor pullers excited to rev up their engines in 2020

Image

Need school supplies? Iowa tax-free weekend on clothes

Image

War hero remembered with motorcycle ride

Image

Families react to RPS's "Return to Learn" plan

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast- Friday

Image

Giving your best volunteer of the month

Community Events