Listen: North Korea, China And Kim Jong Il discussed on Today in Focus
"I think this year kimberlin house quite a lot to celebrate tiny Brannigan guardian leader writer and former China correspondent she spent a lot of time trying to understand the politics of North Korea. He's had a very successful year from his point of view. Trump gave him a huge win with Singapore. Some it so we'll do the situations certainly store fairly precarious. I think he could fail, but he's had a very successful year. And most people would say, it's astonishing really how much the US has given him. And what do we know about him? Well, we know he's a very young man how young around thirty five. So when he took over he was not yet thirty Kim Jong Il son and heir took back with appeared to be real cheers as he gave a solemn vow of goodbye is truly not a ready for primetime player. The Chinese themselves are a little worried about whether he's really up to the task. There was a lot of concern precisely because of inexperience and because he hadn't had the of belong apprenticeship that his father had served really at his grandfather's side. The concern was that he was very young, but he didn't have experience and also just a sense really hard to know much about him. I mean, we know that he studied in Switzerland. We know that he's fond of basketball and over the recent years, we've seen he's obviously trying to modernize his country to some degree that he wants for the elite at least a sort of more modern looking perhaps slightly more clamorous if you could put it that way, North Korea. And so compared to how it was ten years ago there really has been quite a marked transition. The people of North Korea around the world, the country causes a huge amount of outrage. But it's always seem that the leaders have been worshipped from inside. I mean is that true? And has it changed at all under the leadership of Kim Jong UN what we've seen is this dimension over the generations. And so, although it's obviously felt that the Kim family brand in a sense is extremely important to the regime at the same time. It's clearly much much less potent than it was. So I think that the real veneration that there was for Kim Il song just doesn't really exist in the same way anymore and at the same time because the state has really sort of almost fallen out of the industrialized world. Those appoint where North Korea was actually doing better economically than China or South Korea's back in the sixties, thanks to the support the Soviet Union. We saw is that it really sort of went backwards that we saw this devastating famine in which. Hundreds of thousands died in the nineties. We saw really the collapse of all the things that the state had provided. And so what people see now is a state that just gets in the way that obstacle to the things that they want to the extent that people will pay bribes not to go to their state assigned job because the money they make is so small that they just can't survive on it. They can do better in the black market. So they go off in trade, and they take some of that cash, and they give it to their bosses of ripe said, they don't have to turn up to their job NATs. Kind of extraordinary. It's incredibly difficult for journalists to find out what's happening in North Korea. The state controls any official messaging some information has trickled across the border with China in person or through mobile phones, using Chinese sim cards defectors. Have also spoken out, but many fair this can lead to serious repercussions for their families. Reporters can only really get into the country if they are accepted onto an organized trip chaperoned by local guides God in an observer journalist emigrant Harrison had that chance in two thousand eighteen. There's not that many trips north creates very hard for journalists to get in the to get visas, and you accept conditions. There was a report that you wouldn't really expect anywhere else tool. You have almost no control of your Tintri of who you meet, and there's almost no other country in the world where you would say, okay, I'll do that. But that's that's the only way to see anything if North Korea. Did you get a sense of what it was like to live in the country?."