Skip to main content

tv   Fault Lines  Al Jazeera  February 5, 2015 7:00am-7:31am EST

7:00 am
>> joint military exercises between united states and south korea are regular occurrences. this one, codenamed max thunder - took place in november at the kunsan air force base 150 miles south of seoul... >> this type of exercise takes place every year but for the north korean government they consider this a
7:01 am
provocation and a threat. >> north korea is still a flash point. we're still at a state of war with north korea. this is 1953 armistice. >> if there was someday heaven forbid a real war here we would need to work very closely. we are always practicing together always working together >> thankfully we have helped stabilize and ensure the security of the peninsula for the last 61 years, but in spite of that long time we have to be ready to fight tonight and that really is our mantra. >> north korea is under new leadership. >> kim jong-un looks funny he is overweight and sometimes does strange things. but he is smart. when his father died 7 top officials, 4 generals and 3 civilian bureaucrats, walked next to the coffin of his father in december 2011. in two years time,
7:02 am
none of them was alive and in a high level position. >> when it comes to international relations, kim jong-un's rule has been described as erratic. since coming into power, he's launched a long-range rocket and carried out a nuclear test. most recently, the u.s. accused the north of orchestrating a cyber attack on sony pictures last fall, fault lines was granted rare access inside the country. we went to understand what if anything, has changed since kim jong un came to power, and how u.s-north korean relations look from the other side. >> our visit to north korea was part of a highly controlled press tour sponsored by the government. our guides decided where we went who we spoke to and they were
7:03 am
with us at all times. >> "my name is kang __" [korean-on loud speaker] >> so we have to wear this to identify ourselves as international press, and we have to use it while working on the streets. the kim family and the worker's party have ruled north korea for over 6 decades. apparently today is the 17th
7:04 am
anniversary that kim jong il was elected secretary of the party and people are coming to these statues to pay their respects." >> a lot of people from different walks of life. army soldiers. they come... north korea has one of the largest standing armies in the world. men are conscripted for up to 10 years. it's because of the idea of "songun" which means "military first." >> we are headed to the border between north and south korea. it's one of the most heavily fortified border areas in the world.
7:05 am
we just passed three checkpoints but we were not allowed to film because of security concerns we went to meet lt. colonel nam tong ho, of the korean people's army >> on this side is north korea and the other is united states and south korea. >> the west is always saying north korea has to dismantle their nuclear weapons program... north korea has to do this... ...and has to do that... what would it take?
7:06 am
we were told the nuclear deterrent - as they call it - means the government can focus on other things, like development. >> we are building more fancy looking buildings on the river. a man who has made a success or achievement for the society - then he will be kind of a priority to go there. >> our guides brought us to one of these new buildings that we were told is for families of professors at kim il sung university. sin gyong-ju lives there with her daughter son in law and grandson. she was worried about the health of kim jong un
7:07 am
who had not appeared in public for several weeks. >> you're going to cry too we're all crying >> then the conversation turned to the united states. she told us the americans provoke and threaten north korea regularly, but she is certain they will not attack - because they would lose. >> do you think that there's the possibility that there can be a war again?
7:08 am
>> throughout our visit, it was difficult to know where the propaganda ended and genuine sentiment began. to try and get a fuller picture of life under kim jong un, we had to leave the country. >> watch more "faultlines" on demand or visit
7:09 am
7:10 am
>> in north korea we spoke only to people chosen by the government, so to get a sense of what life was really like under kim jong un, at least for some,
7:11 am
we traveled to seoul. we're on our way to meet a couple from north korea who've left the country after kim jong un came to power. the husband apparently has just arrived to south korea. neither of them have spoken to the media before. kim jong un has tightened border security. and less north koreans have managed to defect in recent years. we've been asked not to reveal their identities or where they live because even though they have left the country they are still afraid. we are changing their names and distorting their voices at their request. kim min-su ("kim min soo") and ahn su-bin (on soo bin") escaped separately across the river to china.
7:12 am
>> did you ever feel in danger? >> su-bin told us she had wanted to leave north korea ever since her father was swept up in a purge when she was 14. >> she said after her father disappeared her family was exiled from pyongyang.
7:13 am
>> the government only allowed us to speak to people that were approved by them. of the people you know what is the general feeling among the population? >> in 2013 the united nations released a groundbreaking report on human rights abuses in north korea concluding their abuses - including forced labor deliberate starvation, torture, and the complete denial of the right to freedom of thought quote "have no parallel in the contemporary world"
7:14 am
when he was only 9 years old kang chol kwan said he was imprisoned at the yoduk political prison camp with his family. when he was released 10 years later, he escaped to the south >> so there are entire families kept in these places? >> 80 to 120,000 people are reported to be held in these camps on life sentences. the north korean government denies that political prisons exist.
7:15 am
>> we wanted to raise the issue of human rights while on our visit to north korea >> you're all welcome to korea to see the reality of korea. which will be different for you from what you've heard. by the way have you found people that have horns, and red face? >> (laughs) no we haven't. we were given one chance to sit down and ask questions with party members. our guides insisted it wasn't an interview, just a conversation >> in the western world, especially in the united states, there is a lot of criticism of this country about what happens to those who oppose the government so we wanted to know his opinion about what other countries say about human rights here in this
7:16 am
country. >> in december the un general assembly voted to refer north korea to the international criminal court for alleged crimes against humanity. the question is now on the permanent agenda of the security council. kim il sung square was filled with thousands of people in a government rally against the united states and the united nations.
7:17 am
>> andrei lankov is a historian who has studied north korea for decades. >> north korea is a notorious human rights abuser. arguably the world's worst human rights abuser. having said that these resolutions have no impact whatsoever. because they understand: it's official now: if they lose they are not going to be spared. so they are going to fight and they are going to be even more repressive, not less.
7:18 am
>> in seoul, kim ji-woo ("kim jee oo") - not her real name - told us she had been arrested and tortured by the north korean security police after she was falsely accused of being a spy. she said she defected in 2013 and that her family is still in north korea. ji-woo told us that when kim
7:19 am
jong il died many people had a secret hope his son would bring change but she says it could not be said publicly and they had to fake their grief but she said that hope didn't last long. >> did you ever see something like that? did you see executions?
7:20 am
>> there is a small dirty secret. there is very little resistance in an efficient and sufficiently brutal dictatorship state. resistance is possible when repression doesn't work properly. and if you have a well-run repressive state nobody dares to say anything. >> on the stream >> february marks black history month but is it time for a refresh? a look at why african americans are turning to twitter to discuss the issues their local communities won't >> the stream on al jazeera america
7:21 am
7:22 am
>> after more than 60 years the division between north and south korea is still a fault line north korea has now threatened a nuclear test because of the united nations
7:23 am
attention on human rights in the country. ambassador joseph detrani is a former u.s. negotiator with north korea on their nuclear program. the six party talks reached a dead end in 2009. >> if they are not happy with something, they will tell you; well we're not happy with something. and if you persist we'll have a nuclear test, we'll have a missile launch. and i think the expectation has been: we will cave. threats don't work any longer. the threat to escalate doesn't work any longer they are not going to get what they want because they are threatening. they will get more by coming back to the table and being reasonable. >> the united states has announced a new round of sanctions as a response to the cyber attack on sony pictures they claim was orchestrated by north korea > outside policy is pro-engagement or pressure. pressure does not work. engagement might have some impact but only very limited.
7:24 am
on balance we have this kind of oscillation between unrealistic hopes about pressure and unrealistic hopes about engagement. >> we have had 20 years of experience negotiating with north korea. and what do we have? a north korea with more nuclear weapons, a north korea with more missile delivery systems a north korea that continues to proliferate, so these negotiations haven't been successful. lets be brutally blunt about that. but that does' mean we stop. >> while the international community navigates policy options - changes within north korea might have the most far-reaching implications >> there is so much curiosity in south korea about what is happening in the north that as you can see hundreds of people come here every day to take a peek at the other side.
7:25 am
>> our main glimpse of life in the provinces... we were shown in a cafe in seoul >> fault lines was shown exclusive footage from a north korean smuggler. he asked us not to reveal his identity. >> in this clip, a group of people are waiting outside a train station in suncheon city, north of pyongyang. we were told they were waiting for merchants to arrive with chinese goods that need to be brought to market... things like shampoos electronics and smuggled dvds. >> we are told if caught filming
7:26 am
the markets... you could go to prison or worse. >> the government can minimize changes in the economy but can't hide them completely we were taken to the migok cooperative farm in sariwon city. it's a model farm in one of the most fertile areas of the country. >> kim jong un said that agriculture is a priority he wanted to do some reforms have these reforms are they already in place? >> not reform >> not reform, what do you say? >> new measures >> new measures. >> it's not new, but it has been already initiated by kim il sung.
7:27 am
>> chronic malnutrition is still a real problem in north korea. but food production has increased somewhat in recent years, in part because of a new emphasis on family based agriculture and incentives for farmers. >> obviously the policy of kim jong un is to emulate chinese ecomnomic reforms of the 70s and 80s. slowly and very carefully. but at the same time to remain very harsh very repressive, with anyone who has any doubts about the system or is going to challenge the system in any meaningful way. over the last year they had a massive campaign against people who watch illegally imported
7:28 am
smuggled foreign movies. well they became very harsh. and now people are afraid to watch such movies. >> in korea we have a saying seeing is believing. same as in english. so first see with your own eyes. and if there is anything you want to know you are very curious then you can ask us. >> during our time in north korea, we were constantly told that we should see with our own eyes how different the country is from outside perceptions. but what's unseen and unspoken is all the ways in which the regime maintains its control. for those who have have fled it's system that despite decades of diplomatic pressure and us and international sanctions,
7:29 am
appears as entrenched as ever. >> these people have decided that today they will be arrested >> i know that i'm being surveilled >> people are not getting the care that they need >> this is a crime against humanity >> hands up! >> don't shoot! >> hands up!
7:30 am
>> don't shoot! >> what do we want? justice! >> when do we want it? >> now! >> they are running towards base... >>...explosions going off we're not quite sure... >> fault lines al jazeera america's award winning, investigative series... on al jazeera america . >> this is techknow. >> the scientists of fighting a wildfire. we are going to explore the enter section of hardware and humanity and we are doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science. >> oh, my god. >> by scientists. ♪ tonight, techknow investigates extreme weather. >> flash flood warning for northwestern los angeles. >> dr. shina shawara is a mechanical engineer.