‘Jaw dropping’ secret tapes reveal North Korean leader’s frustrations


A new documentary reveals secret audio tapes of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il talking openly about his frustrations with the country’s propaganda and film production, CNN reports:

He is heard speaking freely in a high-pitched voice, in tapes smuggled out of the country in the 1980s by two South Koreans who were kidnapped and held in North Korea. “The Lovers and the Despot” tells the story of how actress Choi Eun-hee and director Shin Sang-ok were seized by North Korean agents in 1978, and kept in North Korea for eight years, forced to make movies.

Greg Scarlatoiu, of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, said that the tapes showed that Kim was insecure about everything including the thing he loved most — movies — and this trait was likely shared by his youngest son Kim Jong Un.

“Just like his father before, this leader of North Korea must suffer from a complex of inferiority as well,” he said. “The insecurity was surely something that Kim Jong Un inherited.”

“North Korea, Inc.”

North Korea’s continuous provocations have raised important questions about the efficacy of international sanctions, notes the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings:

Do sanctions intended to reduce or halt weapons of mass destruction procurement work, and if not, why? What, if any, unintended consequences—positive or negative—do sanctions against North Korea (DPRK) generate? What can be done to improve the effectiveness of these and other sanctions? In a recent report, Jim Walsh and John Park address these specific questions with a primary objective to document North Korea’s practices, partners, and pathways in order to better understand how the DPRK has innovated in the face of international sanctions.

On November 7, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings will host John Park and Jim Walsh as they present key findings from their three-year MacArthur Foundation-funded study of what they call “North Korea, Inc.,” the system of regime-operated state trading companies that the DPRK employs to procure both licit and illicit goods. Jonathan Pollack, interim SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies, will provide remarks after their presentation, followed by a Q&A moderated by Richard Bush, director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies.


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