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 9:40 AM
Updated: Feb 25, 2019 9:40 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.

West Lafayette
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 34°
Kokomo
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 27°
Rensselaer
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 27°
Fowler
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 27°
Williamsport
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 34°
Crawfordsville
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Frankfort
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Delphi
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 28°
Monticello
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 28°
Logansport
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 27°
Clouds Build Sunday Ahead Of Snow
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 324537

Reported Deaths: 5594
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion44186858
Lake28094462
Allen18660301
Elkhart17663230
St. Joseph17256234
Hamilton13612170
Vanderburgh10028121
Tippecanoe896729
Porter855386
Johnson6718169
Hendricks6412158
Vigo625889
Monroe550450
Clark531078
Madison5239122
Delaware5075103
LaPorte481196
Kosciusko475941
Howard364177
Bartholomew335365
Warrick335372
Floyd329478
Wayne325678
Marshall311846
Cass303931
Grant287150
Hancock272957
Noble264946
Henry256437
Boone255054
Dubois245631
Dearborn228231
Jackson226334
Morgan221243
Gibson194926
Knox193021
Shelby192656
Clinton185421
DeKalb183932
Lawrence183849
Wabash172821
Adams172422
Miami170815
Daviess163145
Fayette153734
Steuben153414
Jasper151713
Montgomery149327
Harrison147624
LaGrange146131
Ripley145815
Whitley142314
Huntington133510
Decatur132543
Putnam131128
White131022
Wells130130
Clay130023
Randolph128121
Posey125816
Jefferson124116
Scott114520
Greene106053
Sullivan102716
Jay101913
Starke95022
Jennings90414
Spencer8908
Fulton87519
Perry85121
Fountain8228
Washington8127
Franklin73427
Carroll71913
Orange70028
Vermillion6607
Owen6468
Tipton60327
Parke6026
Newton57812
Rush5708
Blackford56612
Pike52719
Pulaski41815
Martin3705
Benton3643
Brown3574
Crawford3081
Union2782
Switzerland2655
Warren2562
Ohio2387
Unassigned0266

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events