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JournalistI've been to North Korea 8 times over 12 years. Ask me anything. Headline: I made a documentary about exploring the border between China and North Korea - where tensions run high. AMA!

Sep 21st 2017 by BobWoodruff • 8 Questions • 74 Points

To this day, North Korea is the most isolated country in the world. I have been to North Korea eight times in the past 12 years. But on this trip, I wanted to explore the country's 880-mile border with China. Watch my ABC News documentary to see a glimpse inside the reclusive country from just across the river in China. http://abcnews.go.com/International/north-koreas-border-china-uneasy-alliance-fear-war/story?id=49565580

Proof: https://twitter.com/BobWoodruff/status/910601724951453698

Q:

As someone who has been to the country frequently, what do you think the greatest misconception of North Korea is?

A:

I would have to say that in the country's capital of Pyongyang they seem to be westernized in many ways. Of course there are many soldiers walking around in their uniforms but for the others they now have american looking clothes and shoes. They now have cell phones although they cannot extend outside the city. What we really don't see are the countrysides and the prison camps. So I don't know what our misconceptions would be there.


Q:

Did the North Koreans you met share any of their thoughts about the U.S. with you? Thanks for reporting on this.

A:

The people on the streets always tell us officially that they hate us. But our minders who follow us everywhere and are very educated they don't say this. They just give us details about how they differ from us. They criticize our president and tell us that they will resist any attack by the US. They have been overseas, or at least many of the minders have, so they know what they are talking about.


Q:

Did you ever feel that your life was in danger or that you needed to get out of where you were asap ?

A:

There were a couple of moments when I thought we were going to be held for questioning. I took pictures of soldiers which was supposed to be illegal. But i was never afraid of being arrested or killed.


Q:

How North Korea see Europe in the geopolitical context? Thanks

A:

I haven't really engaged them on this topic so sadly I don't really know. I have spoken to defectors who mostly know about Asian geopolitics.


Q:

aside from the U.S.A, what do north Koreans think about other countries?

A:

Depends on their history etc. They have just a few allies but even they are starting to dislike NK under the leadership of Kim Jong Un. China is their number one friend but it is starting to lose its faith. Nuclear bombs and tests are frightening even to China. As you could see in our "Inconvenient Border" doc we got out yesterday, China is no longer so connected to NK because of Kim Jong Un. He has never been to China and vice versa for Xi Jingping. Their other strong historical ally is Russia. But they essentially ended their military and economic support of NK in the mid-90s. That led to starvation and mass death in NK so that relationship has descended.


Q:

Is the average North Korean citizen aware of the propaganda they are being fed and just choose to stay silent for their own well being or do they seem to genuinely believe it?

A:

I think that they believed it more than now. in the doc you can see that i have been going there for more than 12 years and back then i really felt that they consider the leaders god like. Since then more have studied overseas. More importantly there are radio connections along the borders with both China and South Korea. More social media. Cell phones and conversations with family member who worked in China. Better every year.


Q:

Do you play basketball?

A:

Yes but badly. Not as good as Rodman.


Q:

Do you feel North Korea is unnecessarily vilified and possible even misunderstood in the US?

Edit: To correct typo. Fell was changed to feel.

A:

I think it not yet clear exactly what is happening behind the walls so none of us don't fully understand what their lives are like and what they are thinking. Defectors have told their stories so they are our best sources of facts. Perhaps the most important uncertainty is about Kim Jong Un. We have just started in our reporting to figure out his thoughts.