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JournalistI'm Jonathan Cheng, WSJ's Korea bureau chief. I recently returned from a reporting trip to North Korea. AMA!

Oct 2nd 2017 by jchengwsj • 24 Questions • 6256 Points

I'm Will Carless, a reporter at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, where I cover hate and extremism in the U.S. I recently embedded with anti-fascists and discovered that they have a "hit list" of alt-right activists, which they disseminate ahead of protests. Many of them believe that pre-emptive violence is the only way to shut down hate speech.

Read my latest: https://www.revealnews.org/article/antifa-has-a-rapid-response-team-that-targets-alt-right-organizers/

Proof: https://i.redd.it/yj1cela4fboz.jpg

Q:

If you could ask anyone in the DPRK's regime one question and have it answered honestly and sincerely, what would it be?

A:

What was the hardest part (mental/emotional/physical) of recovering from your injury? Thanks for doing this AMA!


Q:

Years ago you gave a talk in Denver. I got an email from CLIO inviting Colorado users for a beer. About 8-10 users showed up. Just wanted to say thanks for the beer.

Guess I need a question.

How's it going, eh?

A:

What do you wish people would say or NOT say to you? I've read opinions from people with some horrible disease (especially cancer) write that they are absolutely tired of hearing the "But how are you really doing?" question and calling treatment a "fight" or a "battle".

Also, since I'm an anesthesiologist, what did you wish your anesthesia team knew or do differently for your surgeries. Did you have an ERAS (enhanced recovery after surgery) for your surgeries? Always interested to know, since anesthesiologists rarely get meaningful feedback from patients.

Thanks for sharing your story Dude! PS we went to med school together.


Q:

Most people think that non-violence is the way to go and that violent, aggressive responses could backfire, that is play into the hands of white supremacists by using violence. What do you have to say about that?

A:

Hey guys! I'm back to answer this one. It's a tough one because there's so much that we want to know, and there are plenty of good questions that would be perfectly adequate, but you always want to find that perfect question, if you ever got the chance. Unfortunately, I'm not sure there is a perfect one. Most of the things we want to know are things that nobody knows, or that are likely to change quickly depending on circumstances, like, "How close are we to war?" or "Do you ever plan to use your nuclear weapons?" There are also a few that would fall into the unsolved mysteries category, like "What happened with Otto Warmbier exactly?" or "Did you order the hit on Kim Jong Nam, and why?" (North Korea has a lot of these unsolved mysteries, stretching right back to 1945 and beyond, but these would be two of the more recent ones.) Then there are the frivolous ones, like "Why Dennis Rodman?" or "Why that haircut?" I suppose I could also go down another line of reasoning: "What really keeps you up at night?" "Does your conscience ever nag you?" And I guess the one I'd really like to ask would be along those lines, and it'd be like this, for Kim Jong Un: "Did you ever contemplate a different path for North Korea when you took over from your father? You were educated abroad, and the country you inherited is in a very different position, and the world is a very different place, than when your grandfather founded the DPRK in 1948. Did you give any serious thought to a different path, and why did you ultimately choose this one?" I'm not sure how thoughtful and contemplative Kim is, but given the parameters of your question, Josh, with the prospect of an honest and sincere answer, that's probably what I'd ask. But hey, if anyone's got a better question, I'm all ears!


Q:

part (mental/emotional/physical) of recovering from your inj

Hi! Those are all parts of the journey, I would say at first it was such a sudden shift in my reality that emotionally I was a wreck, crying every day. It was also mental, because I was battling thoughts of depression. Will I ever get married? Will I depend on people forever? etc... The pain was also bad... So I can't really say what was worst, but that they were all very much a part of the journey. Thanks for the question!

A:

I remember that meetup! I think it was about five years ago? Thanks for coming out, and no problem, eh. If you ever make it to a Clio conference, I'll buy you another one. :)


Q:

What do you wish people would say or NOT say to you?

Well, for me personally, I don't get upset when people try to say something nice/compassionate after finding out the diagnosis. They're just trying to be nice people, and it's not their fault that I might be in a shitty mood and take it the wrong way. I've heard other, very different opinions from other people with cancer, though. I think it depends on the person, really. Although, to be honest, the old "everything happens for a reason" thing is a pretty classic groaner to avoid.

As far as it being a "battle," I guess it is, kind of. But really it's more like just getting through each day. I operate about a week at a time now. I just look at the next thing on the horizon, take care of that problem, and then move on to the next thing. If you think about the overall situation too much you'll go crazy.

My anesthesia was pretty much the definition of "routine." General and then a dilaudid PCA + prn boluses for pain control. We didn't talk about the newer post-op regimens or things like an epidural. I do wonder if things would have worked out better with some of the more advanced anesthesia, but my pain control was adequate. I would have tried anything more they offered/recommended, but from my perspective, they treated all the surgeries as pretty routine cases.

PS we went to med school together.

Sweet! Geaux Tigers!

A:

I agree. Most people do think that. But some elements of the antifa don't think that. I think we've already seen even targeted violence blowback onto antifa's image among the general public. But I also know that the people committing this violence aren't really concerned about their perception among the general public. I would agree that they have "played into the hands" of some white supremacists. I think that's kind of inevitable. And I know that's of concern to some within the antifa movement. I think that's why we saw so little violent action in Berkeley this week.


Q:

Hello, Mr. Cheng!

Looking back at the trip now, what would you say has made the biggest impression on youself?

Also a general question, if OK. How did you become interested in North Korea?

A:

Hey David! Since your accident has happened, what has been your favorite place to go where you have shared your story?


Q:

I love Clio, and I also really appreciate that you guys are constantly adding new features. I'm one of those users that is constantly contacting your support people and suggesting ideas that would make my life a lot easier, and I understand you have an internal "voting" system that helps to determine what new features will take the highest priority for development and implementation.

Have you considered making a short list of features (say, top 5) publicly visible? I'd love to have a sense of what I can expect next.

Also, please give me something to do e-signing. Please.

A:

So, were you or a loved one entitled to financial compensation?


Q:

So as per your experience what do you think can be done when you’re at the early stages of struggle, before you get to the point where there are tanks, artillery and heavy weapons?

A:

Hi there, and thanks for the question. The biggest impression, I think, was the same one I had when I was there a few years ago: the cult of the Kims is something truly to behold. It's certainly unlike anything I've ever seen or experienced, or even read about.

As for your second question, I became interested the same way many of our readers became interested. I read the newspaper articles for years before moving to Seoul, and was intrigued by it. Many of us in the newspaper business, of course, are drawn to things that we can't quite understand. The origins of the state, and the rise of Kim Il Sung in particular, are also fascinating to me. I studied history in college, and focused a lot on East Asian history, so that has always been an extra source of interest as well.


Q:

ccident has happened, what has been your favorite plac

Hmm... Probably the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville. It's my hometown, and I knew quite a few people there. It was very special.

A:

Thanks for your ongoing support, we always love hearing from our customers!

With the new Clio experience, we're trying to get away from one-off feature votes and trying to understand our customers' problems and workflows in a more holistic way—a feature-oriented view is a bit myopic.

If you'd be interested in getting on a customer interview with our product managers, let our support team know or shoot me a PM here and I'll be happy to put you in touch.

In terms of e-signing, stay tuned :)


Q:

Sadly, I was not.

A:

What some antifa believe is that by disrupting groups like the alt-Right while they're in the organizing phase -- by shutting down their meetings, blocking their protests and violently confronting their spokespeople, fascism can be "nipped in the bud." That's how anti-fascists have traditionally operated for almost 100 years. TBC: I am not condoning. I am passing on info!


Q:

Do the people want war? Nuclear war? Do you think they really know the ramifications of a nuclear war?

In general, what was it like?

A:

Have you seen Freya Markowski again since April?


Q:

Obviously you see the legal field as a great place for technological innovation. Do you think we're going to be able to fully replace lawyers with technology one day? Contracts and other rigidly structured documents seem like something that could be negotiated between two computers once things are a little more standardized.

Yes, /u/orangejulius, I want to replace you with a bot.

A:

You sound like you've done a terrific job of pushing this behind you and still living life to the fullest. Do you think this attitude is inherent to your personality, or is this an attitude that you work to maintain every single day?

Thanks for sharing your story, by the way!


Q:

what was the socioeconomic background of most of the people you encountered? are any at risk of losing their jobs or livelihood because of their activities?

A:

I don't think the people want war. I think what they would probably say is what you hear coming from the U.S. leadership: We don't want war, but we're not afraid of war if that's what it takes. Do they know the ramifications of a nuclear war? I don't know that any of us really do, on a visceral level. It's been 72 years since an atomic bomb was used to kill people, and I know a lot of disarmament and arms control experts have been working overtime to try and convey the seriousness and horror of nuclear war to a world that's a bit inured to it all, but I still think a lot of us don't get the ramifications. And in North Korea, I'm not sure they have any voices trying to convey this message -- not that I've seen, anyway.


Q:

I just skyped her today!

A:

Geoff Hinton made a point that we're very close to realizing the algorithmic potential of current machine learning capabilities. When it comes to negotiating contracts, there's a level of nuance required that machines just can't provide.

We'll get to a point where we'll have easily automated tasks being done by computers, and the leading edge of consumer machine learning capabilities will get pulled into the practice of law, but you'll never be able to fully remove lawyers from the legal process.


Q:

Do you think this attitude is inherent to your personality, or is this an attitude that you work to maintain every single day?

It's definitely something I have to work at, and I don't always live up to my own expectations. But I've found that when your personal "compass" is pointed in the right way as far as your approach and outlook to life, you end up heading in the right direction, even if you make a few wrong turns along the way.

A:

All over the place, from proud working class to middle class kids. As for losing their jobs, most of these activists don't do anything illegal, and they're very careful about being doxxed. If they are doxxed, I would say they're less likely to face social ostracizing because of their beliefs than, say, closet neo-Nazis!


Q:

How many North Koreans do you think actually believe most of the propaganda?

A:

but she was negligent, the fact they didnt press charges is disgusting IMO. she ran a red light and almost killed this guy. She got a pass because of the " lets not punish the junkies and mentally ill" bullshit.


Q:

I also would like a pair of socks.

A:

Your story is so crazy! That's so much whirlwind in the diagnosis, treatment and all the complications!

As a primary care physician, it's very hard to work out the Zebras from the horses, let alone the unicorns. What do you think could have helped the initial diagnosis? Was there anything that you wish was done differently?

Congrats on the new job! All the best wishes to you and your family!


Q:

what would you guess the race/gender breakdown is as well? also, in general, do their friends and family know what they're doing?

A:

I think a lot more of them believe a lot more of the propaganda than one might think. Keep in mind that this isn’t a country where there are multiple sources of mass media and information. North Koreans have been provided with one narrative for their entire lives, and it’s only with the beginnings of alternative sources of information — USB drives, more travel to China, the internet (as restricted as it is) — that this is beginning to change. But only just a little, so far.


Q:

ould have had to go to inpatient or som

Hi Hexxman. Thanks for the comment. And I totally agree that she doesn't deserve to be let off the hook. My reasoning was NOT because I wanted to be soft on a junkie. My reasoning was to help her, to show her that Love and Forgiveness are real and that she could have another chance. We had her do community service.

I really don't think jail would have been a good option for someone who already felt worthless. I'm not responsible for how she turns out, but I've done what I can to help. (FYI, she has been clean for a year)

Hope this makes a little more sense.

A:

See above!


Q:

What do you think could have helped the initial diagnosis? Was there anything that you wish was done differently?

Honestly, nothing.Maybe I should have put two and two together sooner. But I think with my non-specific symptoms and lack of risk factors and such, nothing was "missed" per se.

The only thing that is still a real kick right in the nuts is the renal impairment. I'm at CKD3b now, and all it's gonna take to make me end stage renal disease is one more serious hit to the kidneys. But even that wasn't an "error," just an unfortunate complication.

Also, thanks for the well-wishes! They are greatly appreciated!

A:

I don't know about the overall race/gender breakdown because the reality is that when these guys amass in large numbers, they almost always cover their faces. I spoke to mainly men, but also a few women. Most of the people I spoke to were white, but there are POC in the movement too.


Q:

that this is beginning to change. But only just a little, so far.

This is the first I've heard of North Koreans getting any access to alternative information. Do you have any more information on this?

How are they getting the USB drives?

How much of the information on them do they believe?

Is there an internal/underground network in DPRK where people disseminate this information?

Is there any sign of any kind of resistance forming as a result?

A:

Lmao, you definitely were!


Q:

Young lawyer here in small firm (12 attys) who is having difficulty convincing my older, tech-adverse partners to move from Tabs and no practice management software to Clio. How do I convince them?

A:

So as a radiologist do you get to input your opinion on things like X-rays and catscans taken of you?


Q:

what would you say is the most divisive issue within the movement? also, have you spoken to any people who have recently left the movement, or people who have recently converted?

A:

There's a lot you can read on this. USB drives is a major channel for these new ideas. Try picking up Daniel Tudor/James Pearson's book, or Jieun Baek's, or any number of others who have done research on this.


Q:

ld down his horn and I apologized with a wave. There but for the

Thanks for the response! That's great. I think in the analogy it's actually better to see Danny Devito as someone who needs help and has a problem (this puts the situation outside of yourself so you can see it objectively) and hope that he finds help.

And I've run red lights before myself.

A:

I think the biggest thing is to get them excited about what's possible. Even getting one person at the firm to experience the advantages of the cloud can be powerful. Show them the mobile app. Show them how easy tracking time on it is. How easy generating a bill is. Building excitement is the most important part of building buy-in.

There is also a lot of perceived friction around the data migration process. We have now migrated thousands of legal practitioners to Clio. We can make the data transition seamless for the firm free of charge. We also make it easy to transition away from Clio if you decide it's not the right fit. Our main goal is to support legal professionals in maximizing their time and being successful.


Q:

Officially, in the reports, no. Whoever is reading the study looks at it and dictates it without my input. That said, I can look at my own images, of course. I'd sometimes give them my two cents, but really they just care what the report has to say.

At first I went over everything with a fine toothed comb, but that gets pretty tedious after a while. I still flip through the images, but mostly I just go with what the attending says in the report.

A:

I've spoken to people who recently converted. I think the most divisive issue is probably how to organize effectively and whether violence is ok or not and whether it's helpful or not to the overall cause.


Q:

Here is a good Wired article from 2015 on the proliferation of DVDs and USB drives with outside media on it.

A:

You are amazing! I am still struggling to forgive the driver who almost ran over me and my daughter...I believe that big thing in your case was that she showed how sorry she is..I wish you all the best in your life. Keep that smile.


Q:

Hi Jack.

What was your absolute lowest point throughout your Clio career?

A:

Thank you for the post. Both my grandpa and great grandpa died of mesothelioma caused by working with asbestos, watching my grandpa go through it was the first experience that opened my eyes to the extreme pain some people must live with every day, and sobered my seven year old self right up. Good luck and stay strong.

What's the most benign looking/feeling early warning sign you can think of? If it ends up being what takes my father, I'd rather give him the best fighting chance he can have by being overcautious.


Q:

What's the most dramatic conversion you've seen (e.g. ex-KKK member etc...)?

Were there any unusual signifiers you noticed cropping up (e.g. a disproportionate number of members are into Bojack Horseman or something like that)?

A:

Thank you -- yes, that's a good one.


Q:

thank you, and yes. that is a different type of forgiveness. I encourage you to read through this thread, I've certainly been informed!

A:

Great question! Trying to raise our first fundraising round was incredibly difficult and very disheartening. We launched in 2009 in the midst of the financial crisis and despite having what I was convinced was a great business, and receiving great feedback from investors there was no one writing cheques.

We got a cold email from a German investor named Christoph Janz who had heard about our product on a blog and expressing interest in being an angel investor—but the email was caught by our spam filter and sat there for two weeks (inadvertently slow-playing him.) Through what I can only describe as an act of God, Rian, my Co-founder, randomly checked the spam folder and saw the email, leading to a $1m Series A.

Moral of the story: always check the spam folder!


Q:

What's the most benign looking/feeling early warning sign you can think of?

First, I'm sorry to hear about your grandparents. This is not a nice disease to die from, and watching them go through medical treatment however long ago that was must have been pretty brutal, too. They didn't have a lot of good options back in the day.

I have the abdominal kind of mesothelioma, so my symptoms were different than people with the lung kind. I just had belly pain and vague malaise.

The problem with the symptoms of serious illnesses is that they overlap with the symptoms of not-serious illnesses. The first things would probably be pain and shortness of breath, or limitation of exercise capacity. The problem is, lots of way less scary things can cause those symptoms, too.

Basically, if they worked up everyone with some vague complaints to the full extent every time, our healthcare system would be even more expensive and inefficient than it already is. So we have to try to figure out whose symptoms are concerning, and whose aren't. We do our best, but sometimes people fall through the cracks just because it's not a likely diagnosis. Mine was a case like that. No one "missed" anything, per se.

Lastly, I would say, your case does seem to have a strong family history, and there's at least one known mutation (BAP1 I believe) that increases your risk for mesothelioma. You may want to consider asking for genetic testing for your dad (and/or yourself).

A:

I didn't see any really dramatic conversions. Although the to-and-fro between Alt-Right provocateurs and antifa provocateurs is interesting and something to watch. As for unusual signifiers -- nothing specific comes to mind. Although obviously a lot of these people are anarchists as well.


Q:

Not related to NK but to propaganda and how much people can actually believe it.

15 years ago or so a friend of mine studied in Europe as a transfer student, and his dorm roomate grew up in a very antisemitic area his whole life (cant rem the name of the place) and after finding out that my friend was of jewish origin the roomate was shocked and literally asked him where are his horns and why is his nose so small. Apprently his whole life he's been told and showed images of jews as they look like devils drink blood and what not. Took the roomate a couple of days to take all that and still looked at my friend funny everytime for the whole semester.

Just a glimpse on how much a person can believe when they grow up on this kind of things and i have no doubt that the majority there believe every word. Just imagine how weird it is to open a usb you found and seeing stuff that goes against everything you have ever been told, very likely that you'll ignore it and continue on your life as always.

A:

Hey David,

Given how you've been injured in a bike accident, do you think there are changes to the infrastructure possible which would help prevent happening this to other people? Greetings from the land of the bikes and the red light district!


Q:

What was your oh-shit-what-am-I-doing part of your career?

A:

What a hell of a year and a half. I mean residency in and of itself can be brutal to get through. It's amazing that you kept on with it and passed your boards.

You aren't just kicking this cancer's ass. Your kicking life's ass.

Wishing you all the best.

Now for some questions: 1. Preferred anti-emetic? 2. After getting the initial scans done, when you were checking for appendicitis, and all of those masses were found, were any of them palpable?


Q:

Thank you for this AMA. After spending time with antifa activists, how much do you lean towards the view held by some that both they and the (alt)right are "violent extremes" and practically the same?

A:

Thanks for sharing. I think we can all agree that this kind of thing is possible all over the world.


Q:

Great question: I think we should do everything in our power to fix the roads... And the light where the accident happened is actually hidden by a bridge until you're about 100 yards away. There's a light under the bridge on the side of the road as well, it's just weird though. So one thing would be to make that light more obvious.

Regardless, when there are humans involved, accidents will exist. It's our own responsibility to do our best to act in the way we want others to act: if you want safer roads, be an alert, safe driver

A:

The first year of Clio's existence was one perpetual 'oh-shit' moment. I left my high-paying job at the same time I had my first child and a brand new mortgage to pay for while trying to get a new company off the ground. There were a lot of sleepless nights. Without the support of my patient and eternally understanding wife, Tonia, I don't think we'd be the company we are today.


Q:

Thanks for the kind words. I'm not sure if I'm kicking life's ass exactly, but I'm doing my best!

As for your questions, phenergan seems to work the best for me. Zofran is just okay. Sometimes I also use lorazepam, which is a combo I hadn't heard of until I got sick, but apparently they use that in cancer patients. It does seem to help.

None of the masses we palpable per se, but the day I went to the ER, I had noticeable swelling in my right lower quadrant.

A:

That's a GREAT question. Firstly, as my reporting shows, there are clearly elements of antifa who are willing to use violence as a last resort against people who might threaten vulnerable members of their community. But antifa as a concept, and as a movement, is primarily defensive. I think the two-sides thing is very misleading. On the Alt-right side, you have groups who want to actively disrupt and harm large numbers of people (immigrants, minorities, feminists, LGBTQ population, etc.). On the other, you have people who are willing to do very limited violence to stop a greater harm from happening. I don't think the two are in any way equate-able on a moral or practical plane.


Q:

Jonathan, what's your favourite KBO team/player?

A:

David, What has helped you heal and forgive? How has your daily routine changed?


Q:

Hi. Is Clio working to integrate court systems (e-file) and other software for particular practices?

A:

On the other, you have people who are willing to do very limited violence to stop a greater harm from happening.

How do they quantify the potential of this "greater harm"?

Let's face it, you can't predict the future anymore than I can, or they can: so how do they measure the possibility and at what point is it suddenly "violence is okay now"?


Q:

Softball question! I’m glad you asked, though the answer is complex. I’ve been to many games now, mostly in Seoul, since…well, that’s where I live. I’ve tried to get into Doosan and LG, the two obvious choices, but neither of them has given me a game that would inspire me to devote my allegiance to them. Maybe I’m asking for the impossible. But last game I went to was an LG game where I really wanted to love them…and then in the top of the ninth, they gave up a walk-off grand slam to the other team. I want so badly to want to cheer for them, but I’m not a masochist. And, per your handle, I’m a Toronto native, so the Jays are obviously my MLB team of choice.

A:

The forgiveness I've expereienced in my own life, and the love I've received. And my days are actually pretty similar (I go the same places) but I just do things in a different way. Put clothes on a different way, still go to the bathroom a different way, etc... Thanks for the question!


Q:

Hi Andrew! Short answer: we'd love to, but we have to see some standardization in court e-filing systems first; with so many disparate systems for each individual court/county, trying to integrate them all into Clio would be extremely difficult.

A:

This is a very complex question to answer, and the reality is that the line is different for everyone, both within the movement and outside of it. But I know there are people within antifa who believe that the US is facing a legitimate "fascist creep" and that they can prevent lives being lost in the future by using calculated and isolated violence now. I'm not endorsing that view, but it's out there.


Q:

How do they treat forigeners?

A:

Platt!!! What are biggest hopes and goals now that you have experienced so much healing?


Q:

Love the new integrations! What one are you most excited about?

A:

That sounds super wanton and random to me, with very meager attempts to color it otherwise.


Q:

We were invited guests of the Foreign Ministry, so our treatment was very good. Tourists are paying customers, so they are treated well, with a few notable and tragic exceptions. Aid workers, too, are bringing in things and providing services that the state is not, so they are also treated well. Foreigners from friendly nations are allies and comrades, so they too are treated well. With respect to Americans in particular, the line that we often heard is that they don't like the U.S. government, but they're fine with Americans as individuals. (Many Americans would say the same of North Korea.)

A:

I want to tell the world that I AM NOT A VICTIM. The point being that although I was a victim of an accident, if I responded as a victim (complaining, holding resentment, just sitting and being depressed about my legs not moving) I wouldn't be where I am today. I want to encourage others to fight whatever challenges they are up against, and not see themselves as victims, even if they truly are.


Q:

Can't pick favorites—but we're very selective in how we've chosen our (industry-leading) integration partners, and the new 12 additions add new and useful functionality to our 70+ existing ones.

What I'm most excited about is what all of these integrations mean for the future of legal technology. We're seeing some truly innovative stuff moving in directions we couldn't even conceive of 5 years ago, and we're extremely excited to see where it goes next.

By the way, if you have an idea for the next great legal app, we've recently launched a $1m Developer Fund and a $100,000 Launch//Code contest to encourage innovation in the legal sector. You can learn more about it here: https://www.clio.com/developer-fund/

A:

I disagree.


Q:

what's the most surprising opinion you've heard from someone in North Korea?

A:

Your hair is gorgeous, what conditioner do you use?


Q:

Hi Jack! Thank you for doing this AMA.

  • Does Clio do outreach at law schools to help students prepare to use the practice management software?

  • How do you run four start-ups at a time instead of focusing all of your energy on one?

Good luck and thank you!

A:

This reply seems rather disingenuous. I think we've all seen videos of antifa activists engaging in unprovoked violence, and altogether seeming like they're enjoying themselves. That's far from a last resort protecting the greater good.

Those may well be a small minority of antifers, but to portray that minority as some defenders of the peace who only use violence when it's called for is just false. At least take the reasonable route and say there are bad people involved, just like pretty much every other group in human history.


Q:

I think what struck us as a group (and I’m just recalling this off the top of my head) was hearing our handlers at the Foreign Ministry complain, genuinely, about how obsessed their kids were with computer games and their smartphones. It’s just not something we were expecting to hear, I guess because we ourselves have our own conceptions about what life in North Korea is like. On the more conventional, political front, I think what was most surprising was a quote we included in our story last Saturday, which was a waitress/bartender telling us that she wished Pyongyang would fire off 20-30 missiles per day. It was a reminder that there may be even more hawkish opinions inside the country than we hear/read about.

A:

lol. It tends to do better the less I try to deal with it. but I've tried a bunch of different stuff, and it seems the more expensive stuff is better.


Q:

Doing the AMA was my pleasure. First time doing one, but I'm having a ton of fun!

Does Clio do outreach at law schools to help students prepare to use the practice management software?

Absolutely! We launched our Clio Academic Access Program (CAAP) over seven years ago, and have seen over 150 law schools, including 13 of the top 20 law schools in the US, adopt Clio as part of that program. As part of CAAP we offer Clio access free of charge and provide education and support resources to the law schools that are member of CAAP.

Fun fact: we donated over $6m in free Clio access to law schools that belong to CAAP in 2017.

As a result of the success we've seen with CAAP, we've seen two major textbook publishers, including Cengage, Pearson, and Wolters Kluwer, that include chapters describing how Clio can help run a technology-enabled law firm.

How do you run four start-ups at a time instead of focusing all of your energy on one?

My attempt at humour in my Twitter bio might be a bit too subtle: Clio is the only true startup I'm working on, but I have three young children (Ian, 8; Patrick, 7; Isla, 5) that I need to juggle as well :-)

A:

I said elsewhere on this page that there was a lot of indiscipline in early months. I think antifa are working on that! And yeah, I'll agree that there are people within the movement who act rashly and stupidly, as there are in almost any group of protesters. So, yeah, wasn't meaning to downplay that.


Q:

Did you believe them when they said these things?

A:

How did you find it so easy to forgive? What is your recovery like so far?


Q:

What is the best case for why I should wear Clio socks?

A:

I hear that for every confrontation in the streets, there are a bunch more events they got shut down or cancelled by lurking in fascist forums and outing the nature of the event to the community.

Did you see a strong online component to the people you interviewed?


Q:

I do. I don't think they were coached to say it (as I mentioned in answer to another question), and in the case of the bartender's 20-30 missiles remark, that sentiment broadly reflects the state's priorities -- which I do believe have been deeply inculcated into the people's thinking.

A:

see my comment to @trashtvqueen above. Recovery is pretty good, I'm walking full-time, even walking unassisted in the house! Very thankful for the recovery of neural pathways in my legs.


Q:

Do you enjoy warm feet? Do you love Canadian-based legal practice management software? Clio socks find a way to combine both!

A:

Thanks for the question! Yeah, there's definitely a lot of activity by antifa online. But I think that's unsurprising. A lot of these people are young and live much of their lives online. So, there's certainly a proxy battle going on on the internet, as well as on the streets.


Q:

What do North Korean people think of South Korea and is the goal of reunification on their minds?

A:

Is there anything you can't do at the moment that you used to do but are working towards doing again? On a side note, I think it is both courageous and amazing that you were able to forgive so quickly such an inspiring story!


Q:

Whats CLIOs Origin Story? How did you End up down this path?

A:

After spending time with members of antifa are you more or less sympathetic to their movement and why?


Q:

Officially, many of them are repulsed by South Korea because, in their minds, it's not a real country. It's a puppet state propped up by the U.S. after the Korean War. But obviously, there is a lot of pathos and intrigue with the South as well, since -- more so than in South Korea -- they still keep very much alive the dream of unification. Not to say they don't in South Korea, of course, but you feel it and see it more when you're north of the DMZ. At least, based on my limited interactions...!

A:

Thank you!

I'd love to play soccer/wakeboard/mountain bike. I need quite a bit more strength for that... But I'm working toward it! Who knows at this rate someday I might.


Q:

I was extremely honored to recently be named an Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and they did a pretty fantastic job summing it up here: https://www.bcbusiness.ca/Entrepreneur-of-the-Year-2017-Software-as-a-Service

Not included: the life-altering encounter with a cave full of bats.

A:

Good question. And a difficult one to answer. I would honestly say that I'm sympathetic to an overall fight against fascism. And I would say that traditionally, some sort of violence has inevitably been an element of any successful struggle against fascism. But I would say that the antifa, especially those practicing violence and property damage, have been more damaging to their movement than positive. I think in the early part of this year, there was a lot of indiscipline within the movement. I think that's changing.


Q:

What was the scariest thing you saw there?

A:

Hi David, I really just want to tell you what an inspiration you are! But, rules are I must ask a question... So here it is: have you done any speaking engagements talking about your accident? If so, what was it like for you? If you could do a TED talk about the power of forgiveness, would you do it? I'd love to see it! (I'm not affiliated with TED or anything remotely similar!)


Q:

at what point in company's growth is it too difficult to maintain active role in hiring process, managing employees, and you effectively become a manager of managers?

A:

Good and well thought out answer. It would be interesting to see how you feel antifa in general are evolving at some point in the future. Glad to hear that the more violent element if antifa are disapearing i mean i strongly believe in violence at the right time and for the right reasons but so far from the little that ive seen this hasnt been the case.


Q:

On the second night, three of us from the Journal went out on an evening stroll from our guesthouse (circa 10pm). It was pitch black outside, and we were in a rather remote rural guesthouse. Why did we walk out? Because the Foreign Ministry officials said we should, and we wanted some fresh air and to stretch our legs after a long, grueling day of being shuttled around Pyongyang in cars. We wandered down a hill in the darkness (I had my phone flashlight/torch on), and I definitely heard someone coming towards us. It was just four armed soldiers marching past us. Didn't glance up at us. Didn't seem to pay us any mind. Just doing their marching thing. It made me recall the 2008 shooting death of a South Korean woman who had gone up to Keumgangsan (Mount Keumgang, Diamond Mountains), a resort set up just north of the DMZ on the east coast, where South Koreans were -- until the shooting -- able to visit the North on vacation. While the circumstances of that death remain a pretty bitter source of dispute between the two Koreas, we figured it was a good reminder that we should probably get back inside.

A:

I have played shows where we show a 20 minute documentary of my story, and then I play an hour set and share more of the story. I'd LOVE to do a ted talk


Q:

Even through hundreds of hires, and many thousands of interviews, Rian and myself are still part of every hiring decision. Maintaining our company culture is absolutely critical to our success, and by bringing the right people on board, we have the utmost trust in our team and have been able to remove ourselves from day-to-day decision making.

My advice to other founders and CEOs would be to remain active in the hiring process—create a culture that flourishes and understand that you are ultimately the vanguard of that culture. You can't take shortcuts on people.

A:

Thanks. Yep. And I would strongly recommend reading Mark Bray's "Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook" if you're interested in the history of the movement.


Q:

Are the NK people preparing for war?

A:

Hi David! It's great you forgave her and surely the right thing, but in the process of forgiving, there ever were tiny little moments when you felt anger and/or resentment? If yes, how can you describe them?

Hope the very best for your recovery, from Italy :)


Q:

Did you acquire the Clio trademarks from Sony?

A:

Which regional Anti-fa did you embed yourself with?


Q:

One way to answer this is to say that they're always preparing for war. The country is on a perpetual war footing, and the language and rhetoric of their state media really has made it seem like a U.S. invasion has been imminent for a very long time. Are they more prepared than usual at the moment? It's hard for us to know, unfortunately, on a five-day guided visit to the capital. But my sense is that it must be at least a touch higher than usual, given -- as I mentioned in answer to another question -- that the situation these days is truly more unstable than in the past. North Korea is near the finish line on its weapons program, and a very unpredictable -- you could say a proudly unpredictable -- president is in the White House.

A:

Thanks Lee, I always have directed my anger/frustration at my legs, not at the driver. Definitely moments when I wish I could have my legs back to normal. Have a functioning bladder/bowels. But I don't let them linger, and neither do the people around me☺️


Q:

This is one of my favorite Clio stories.

Sony didn't actually ever own the Clio trademark, but they did own the trademark for CLIÉ, a Palm-based PDA Sony sold from 2000-2005. Sony bought clio.com as a typo domain for clie.com.

In 2014 we managed to purchase clio.com when Sony let it expire - it wasn't easy though. We discovered the dark underbelly of the domain registrar's "redemption period," and had to purchase the domain in not one, but two auctions. Thankfully it all worked out in the end though, and we're now proud owners of a great four-letter domain name!

A:

I spent time with the antifa in the Bay Area, California.


Q:

Follow up to war preparation story. Is NK sacrificing other aspects of it's military/society and all-in on the nukes, or are the nukes part of a general increase in means. I've seen hints of both.

A:

who'a your favourite Canadian?


Q:

I asked KeithRLee to ask you this, but here's my chance to "ask" you about these features that really I'm just suggesting you implement.

When are you going to let me move Notes from one Client/Matter to another Client/Matter without having to copy & paste?

This issue is important for people who make use of Leads. If you convert a Lead to a Contact then the associated Lead Notes are converted to Contact Notes. But really, those Lead Notes almost always need to be Matter Notes for the first Matter created under that Contact.

Also, doesn't it make sense that Notes should be time stamped not just date stamped?

Also, I should be able to attribute a Contact or Matter to a campaign after the fact, even if I didn't start that Contact out as a Lead. When will you let me do that?

A:

What do you think the predominate political affiliation of Anti-fa members in the Bay Area are?


Q:

Great question. I'll try to answer through the lens of official state ideology. Under KJU's dad Kim Jong Il, the official policy was "son'gun," or "military first." As that name implies, it explicitly prioritized the military's needs over those of civilians or the party. Under Kim Jong Un, the policy is "byungjin," or "dual advance," meaning that nuclear development shares a top billing with the economy. It's the "guns and butter" policy, you could say. That's just a political line, of course, but my gut sense is that under KJU, it really is both that are growing. Obviously, any development that goes into its weapons program must come at the expense of it going into something else. But then again, the South Korean authorities estimate that economic growth in North Korea is at its best level in years, because its weapons program is helping its economy. I'm not sure I totally buy that, but I hope this answer mostly helps.

A:

Probably biebs


Q:

We do have plans to improve the Lead > Contact/Matter workflow. I can't go into much detail publicly yet, but would love to share some of our ideas on this front with you (and to hear more about the pain points you'd like to see solved). PM me if you're up for a conversation!

A:

I don't think most of them have any time for either of the parties, tbh.


Q:

Did you feel any kind of tension in Pyongyang? Is the population aware of Donald Trumps recent threats against North Korea? Does the state-run media mention it?

A:

Hey David! You can probably guess who this is by my handle! My question is this: has the accident affected how you are physically able to play music, as in mobility?


Q:

Jack,

Star Wars or Marvel?

A:

I guess I mean to say: what political philosophy do they most associate with?


Q:

Unfortunately, we were in Pyongyang just before Donald Trump's UN speech, which really raised the heat. We've seen DPRK's state media come out ferociously since then, in a way I haven't seen in my four years watching North Korea closely. (Nicholas Kristof was in the country after me, so maybe he'll have some thoughts on this...) While we were there, though, in mid-September, it really was quite calm. Yes, there are posters and cakes and all sorts of other messages plastered all over Pyongyang warning of destruction and war and all of that, but you don't see it in the people -- unless, of course, you ask them how they feel about the U.S.

A:

ally able to play

Hey Gardner :) Ironically, I'm touring and playing more than before the accident! Just played last night in Nasvhille! Lots on the horizon as well :) So no. That said, I can't kick a bass drum pedal very hard. But I was never a good drummer ;)


Q:

Star Wars!

A:

Most believe in some form of anarchism and/or socialism.


Q:

Warning cakes?

A:

If you don’t mind, are you religious?


Q:

I've seen a number of folks on twitter talk about the danger that reporters put people in when they report and take pictures at anti alt-right demonstrations. Did you encounter any resistance towards your reporting due to similar criticisms?

A:

When they present you with a warning cake, you know it's serious.


Q:

I believe in God, and I believe it's the God of the Bible. I also think faith is a deep and difficult subject, so I don't know the details. But I believe I have first hand experienced some of God's redemption in my own life.

A:

I did. On a couple of occasions, I was told not to take photos of antifa. And I think there is some legitimacy to the fear antifa have of getting doxxed. Read up on what happened to Eric Clayton for more details!


Q:

When you asked the people of North Korea how they feel about the U.S., what were some responses?

Thanks for doing this AMA.

A:

Hi David, I have a hereditary muscle wasting disease. It's going to place me in a wheelchair and eventually lead to my death through heart failure or breathing collapse.

I've often thought about whether or not I would be "happy" with my life as things deteriorated. How did you find the psychological difficulty of being paralyzed?

I'm not scared of death, I'm scared of being unable to do things....


Q:

I think there is some legitimacy to the fear antifa have of getting doxxed. Read up on what happened to Eric Clayton for more details!

You'll forgive me for thinking that you could have chosen a better example.

A:

Their answers were mostly in line with the government's stance: the U.S. is the source of many of North Korea's woes because it divided the country, tried to stifle it with sanctions, turned the southern half of the peninsula into a puppet state, etc., etc. But again, they were careful to point out that they don't dislike Americans as individuals per se -- just the U.S. "hostile policy" (a phrase, by the way, that you will hear a LOT if you go to North Korea as an American).


Q:

'm not scared of death, I'm scared of being unable to

Thank you so much for sharing, and I'm sorry about your condition. The phychological part is hard, and I have no idea how to cope with what your struggle will be, I do know that "Man's search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl has meant a lot to me. It's a book by a guy who survived the holocaust, and you should read it for sure. He says that there is a certain kind of purpose you can only find through suffering. I've latched onto that, and It's been quite rewarding.

Make sense?

A:

My point was that Clanton was doxxed (if it was really him) via 4Chan. It was a pretty massive, organized effort.


Q:

Would you go again for non business reasons?

A:

Are you into gaming?


Q:

To what extent are there different groups - with different agenda - operating under the antifa banner?

A:

Good question, but one that's hard to answer without asking a lot of follow-on questions. Presuming you mean under the current leadership of the DPRK (if you don't mean that, then that's a very different question), my answer would be a cautious yes, in principle, but the reason would have to be a very good one. Even if I don't see a risk myself, there are many others around me -- my wife, my family, my employer, my colleagues, my government -- for whom the risk calculation is very different, and by going, I'd be potentially making life more difficult for them. But in principle, yes, cautiously, with big caveats.


Q:

I was until I got more into music.

A:

Yeah this is definitely happening. There is very little actual organization or coordination going on between different antifa groups, as far as I have witnessed. (Although of course, that may have been kept out of my sight).


Q:

I've heard many people talking about how marijuana is both legal, and socially accepted in NK. Is that actually true?

A:

One more, probably stupid. Have you always been a forgiving person? Many people take small sleights against them to heart, and take a while to let them go. Have you always been able to rationalise and forgive? Or was that a conscious decision? I guess I'm asking if you're naturally hyper-empathetic, or if you learned it along the way!


Q:

how did you get started and interested in this case?

A:

I've read that as well, but it's not something I know for sure either way -- and I must confess, we neglected to ask our Foreign Ministry counterparts about this while we were there. All I can say is that we didn't catch any whiffs of weed while we were there.


Q:

Good question: honestly, maybe I've just made the right friends, or maybe it's the way I view people, but I've never been so offended that I couldn't forgive someone. I don't think anyone's done something so bad to me that was truly evil that I couldn't forgive. Closest thing would be the person who stole my laptop from the scene of the accident........ That was low.

A:

We first started seeing antifa as an interesting group after the big protests in Berkeley in the Spring. As a reporter covering extremism, this seemed like a group I should look into. So I did!


Q:

You wake up in Kim Jong Un's body. You can speak and understand Korean. Without getting assassinated by your commanders, how do you transition North Korea and its people from an Orwellian state of despair to a prosperous nation so you can then ride your fame to launch your career in music?

A:

Former Nashvillian - where is your favorite local place to perform?


Q:

where you scared at all during your time embedded

A:

Tell the Chinese I want out, have them sub in a puppet leader for me in Pyongyang and have them promise to veto any UN resolutions that would ever target me. Then, call up Dennis Rodman and start a record label or something.


Q:

I JUST played City Winery two days ago! it was incredible, they feed you and make wine with your label on it :)

A:

Not really. I was with known antifa when I was in crowds.


Q:

I saw a few photos from another group that just visited NK and I was surprised at how modern some parts of the country seems. What are some misconceptions that the US public may have about NK that you, having taken this trip, would like to help clear up?

A:

Did you take and courses on or practice any sort of mindfulness exercises to come to terms with everything that had happened and everything you felt/feel?


Q:

If we need an 'antifa' movement to fight fascists, that assumes that there are fascists around every corner just waiting to take over the country. How many fascists (on a percentage basis) does antifa think there are in the US and how close are the fascists to taking over?

A:

Yes, indeed! Keep in mind that you're probably looking at photos of the capital, Pyongyang. That's not to say that things are filthy and awful elsewhere, but the most modern parts are generally in Pyongyang. We published a bunch of photos of this too in our Saturday essay last week, if you want to have a look. The main misconception I think that persists in the U.S. about North Korea is that everyone is struggling and wants to get out (that's a bit of a blanket statement, but there are many people in the U.S. who feel this way). There surely are North Koreans who want to get out -- 30,000 have resettled in South Korea, and there may be many more who would like to leave but can't. But there are also many millions who don't want to leave. For one thing, they don't know much about the outside world, and what little they do know isn't positive (you can thank North Korean state media for that). And many of them may believe that life is much better outside the country, but the risks, and the costs, of trying to leave are simply prohibitive. And life is definitely improving for the higher classes in North Korea, so arguably there is less reason to leave. I could go on and on, but I hope this makes sense. And to be clear, I'm not saying everyone is happy there (or that everyone who is happy would remain happy if they knew more about their own country and about the rest of the world), but if you got to ask people freely how they feel about their country (and if they were allowed to freely answer), I think most of them would genuinely tell you that they like where they are.


Q:

songwriting helps. and writing.

A:

Good question, and obviously the answer is different for each individual. But I will say that many antifa feel that there's been a remarkable increase in proti-fascist sentiment, rhetoric and activity since the election of Donald Trump. I've heard that time and time again. Antufa point to the fact that Hitler's political party was tiny when it started (a few dozen people) and they look at groups like the Alt-Right and it worries them. My point is that these people are legitimately concerned about what they call "the fascist creep." It's not just some crazy concept to them.


Q:

What do you think are the biggest problems in the western media's portrayal of North Korea and what do you see as the underlying reasons for it being what it is? What could be done to improve/diversify the coverage?

The image people get from the media has a huge effect on how they think. The larger audience aside, how much influence do you think the media narrative has on those actually deciding the policy? Mostly referring to the U.S. here but also elsewhere.

Thank you! Please keep doing what you do, love reading your articles & KCNA quotes on twitter :)

A:

Have you read about Larry Flynt? What do you think?


Q:

Do you feel antifa would be better served using a more leaderless resistance model, ala the weathermen, to be more effective?

A:

The biggest problem in the western media, I think, is the same thing that bedevils western media coverage of other parts of the world: resources are few, and they're not likely to get any better. That means that you have very few people on the ground trying to cover a country of 23 million people (in North Korea's case) or of 50 million people (in South Korea's case). Many western media outlets don't have anyone permanently stationed, or permanently focused, on Korea. That's not to say good work can't be done, but it does make it more difficult for in-depth work and careful consideration to be given to the issue. We have a bureau of five in Seoul, which is pretty good all things considered, but I'd sure love to double that size. (I'm dreaming, I know.) And then, of course, there are some things that even adding more bodies can't fix: access to North Korea is extremely limited, and even when it's granted, it's debatable how helpful it really is, since that access does come with serious strings attached.

As for policymakers, it's hard for me to know, not being a policymaker. I know that senior U.S. officials have far more sources of information than just the WSJ, or NYT/Washpost/FT/Bloomberg/Reuters/AP/etc., at their disposal. I presume we are one factor in that, and that we are read by policymakers as much for the impact it'll have on public sentiment as we are for the actual content of what we write.


Q:

No i haven't!

A:

Thanks for the question. I'm not sure the antifa could be more leaderless. Everyone I spoke to in the movement said it is a horizontally structured organization (to the extent that it's an organization at all). I didn't see any evidence of hierarchical leadership.


Q:

What is your most memorable quote coming from the DKPR news agency? There have been some real winners I know as I follow you in Twitter.

Also, do you believe the journalists actively help subvert the truth or actually believe what they report to be true in the DKPR?

Is there basically a mass delusion effect going on because they are so cut off from the world?

A:

just want to thank you for sharing your story, im battling depression and seeing posts like these make me wonder why am i actually depressed for. Thanks friend i wish you all the happiness you can acquire.since i have to ask a question, what is something you wish you did before being paralyzed but wasnt able to do?


Q:

Are you too on a russian payroll?

(/s)

A:

Yeah, this is another impossible question. KCNA is truly masterful at the insults and memorable quotes. Some of it is definitely because of translation issues and the linguistic gap (e.g. "dotard"), but a lot of it is by design. As with the rest of their capabilities, the DPRK is very good at playing the asymmetric game, and having an arsenal of bet-you-never-thought-of-that zingers at their disposal is a sign of how sophisticated they are, I think. Or maybe I'm giving them more credit than they deserve. But alas, I don't think I can choose just one. They're all my favorite!


Q:

ou did before being paraly

That's so awesome! yeah, I would love to play a soccer game. Snowboard. Wakeboard. Not have pain in my legs/back. Pee/poop normally again. But I can do lots of things!

A:

Um. No.


Q:

Will your answers to this questions effect your next visa in anyway?

A:

Hey, David. Been a while since I've seen you. Just wanted to say hi. How's your dog?


Q:

To be honest, it's impossible to know what they read, how much of it they read, and how much they care. There's certainly plenty that I've written and said prior to our trip last month, in the WSJ or on Twitter or otherwise, that I suppose you could argue would be dealbreakers, depending on what one considers a dealbreaker. But there we were in Pyongyang. I do always try to be careful and measured with what I say and write, knowing that it's a complex and delicate situation, but if they don't want me there because of something I've written, then that's a price that I'm willing to pay.

A:

Just wan

Hi!!! He's great :) My parents have been taking care of him.


Q:

What’s the feeling among South Koreans right now? How’s it impacting their political environment? Thanks!

A:

How do you process Anger?


Q:

Good question. Many South Koreans are definitely concerned (though not all of them, not by a long shot), but life goes on. This is life in the shadow of a North Korean threat that’s existed since the 1950s, just like I imagine life in NYC or London rolls on under the threat of terrorism. (Not the same, I know, but perhaps the mentalities are the same?) As for the politics, the most striking thing we see is just how left out and wrong-footed the new administration has had with the crisis. Moon Jae-in is a left-leaning president, the first in nearly a decade, and he had a very different vision for how things would play out on the inter-Korean front under his watch. I don’t think he expected things to play out this way. And the feeling of being left out is very real here. Donald Trump seems to portray the issue as one either between himself and Kim Jong Un, or at most, one that involves China and Japan. South Korea and Russia, it seems, are more tertiary players in the way he’s framed things, or at least that’s how it often feels in Seoul.

A:

Don't supress it, but don't let it linger. Honestly it's been less frequent recently.


Q:

A small sample size, but my girlfriend's family is concerned mostly about Donald Trump's responses rather than NK threats

A:

I haven't done the research, but I suspect your girlfriend's family is not alone on this one.


Q:

Hi Mr. Cheng, thanks for doing an AMA!

I have a couple of questions: First, is the North Korean regime (whether it's Kim Jong Un calling the shots or not) actually nutso, or are they playing with a Madman policy, or are their actions actually fairly reasonable/logical? Secondly, what is your take on the sanctions in place on the country (and its leaders?)--do they impact the leadership in any meaningful way, or do they end up just falling on the people anyway?

Thanks again!

A:

Thanks for the question. I personally do not believe they are nuts. Nuts can work for a little while, but it generally doesn't work for three generations, over the course of 72 years, when stacked up against the world's biggest political and economic powers (the U.S., Japan, China, Russia, South Korea). I'm not saying it's reasonable or logical, per se, but I do think they know what they're doing, and they're very smart about it.

And I'm not sure on sanctions, to be honest. It's been a hot debate for, oh, years and years and years. No question the leadership have ways to ensure that the pain to them is minimal.


Q:

What do you think is the maximum provocation North Korea is likely to undertake?

A:

Thanks Fred, that's a tough, almost unknowable question, but I think the answer, roughly speaking, is that North Korea will find ways to come right up to the line -- whatever that may be -- without crossing it, and it will probably do so in a way that we don't necessarily expect. Take an example from recent weeks. They threaten Guam with a pretty specific scenario, and then they test-launch a missile over Japan (and then do it again). Now, they've threatened an H-bomb detonation over the Pacific...my hunch is that it's a red herring and they do something else instead. Not that I know for sure, of course...


Q:

Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?

A:

Vanilla. But please don't overinterpret that. I really do just like vanilla ice cream.


Q:

Hey Jonathan,

Love reading your coverage of Korea in WSJ every morning (well, not every morning, you need a day off too, but you know what I mean).

How did you get the DPRK to even agree to this? I would think WSJ would represent everything that they hate about this country. Do they see this as a win? I'd think they'd find it quite easy to just say no way. Why do they see this as a good thing?

A:

Great question. I think they really had a message they wanted to get out there: We have nukes, we've won, give up and sign a peace treaty with us already. And we were far from alone in being invited -- as I've mentioned elsewhere, the New Yorker went in before us, the NYT after us, and I suspect the message was quite consistent. We at the WSJ have an extra edge, in the sense that we're perceived as being the paper closest to the current administration, and are therefore a good conduit of this message. (I'm not going to go into a long spiel here on the differences between our news and opinion pages, but suffice it to say that the four of us who went in for the WSJ work for the news pages, and aren't aligned with any political party or ideological commitments.) That's my best guess of why they wanted us there.


Q:

Hi Jon. RHHS represent!

If NK was to welcome any North American boyband, which one would it be?

And which boyband member would get caught doing something ridiculous to sabotage the event?

Edit: one letter of the alphabet.

A:

RHHS was a great place! North Korea has brought in some pretty strange acts over the years. I'm going to vote for 98 Degrees and Nick Lachey, because Kim Jong Un is a child of the 90s and I can just kind of picture that happening.


Q:

How far did your observations differ from the reality of North Korea being a place of poverty and famine? Did the North Korean officials stage anything?

A:

I don't think they staged anything for us in particular (beyond little things like the orphanage visit and children's musical performance), but that's overlooking that all of Pyongyang is a stage in a sense. Evan Osnos of the New Yorker, who went in a week or two before us, made that analogy. North Korea did indeed suffer a famine in the 1990s, which it has been quite open about (though it hasn't been upfront about all the causes of it), but it's not in famine any longer. Poverty, though, surely exists, though we didn't see much of it in the showcase capital.


Q:

What would you estimate the probability of war and how would you describe your confidence level of that estimate?

A:

Hi again Fred. I'd estimate the probability as still being south of 50%, maybe even as low as 10%, but I'm not sure I'd ascribe a high level of confidence to that estimate. As has been pointed out by many, many others, the concern really is on both sides, these days. Under previous U.S. presidents, you could be reasonably confident that the U.S. would never launch a unilateral strike, and you could be reasonably confident that the North would never do one either. But Pres. Trump truly changes the calculus on the U.S. side, and that in turn I think changes the calculus on the Pyongyang side. Keep in mind too that Trump's election is not the only major new factor here; the other is that the DPRK is more or less at the finish line of what it needs/wants -- a credible nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the U.S. Once it has that, it will presumably continue to develop its weapons programs, but that'll be gravy for them, I think, on top of a baseline credible deterrent.


Q:

If you had to predict, how do you see this all turning out? Do you think we are going to be in a state of Cold War-like tension for years with no actual military conflict? Do you think there is going to be a war? Do you think there will be some kind of coup or regime change that comes internally or from China or somewhere else that doesn't have anything to do with us?

A:

I'm no seer, but I'm presuming a military conflict doesn't break out, though that may be more a reflection of what I want. That leaves us, likely, with a state of Cold War-like tension, as you put it. North Korea develops its capabilities and becomes a de facto nuclear state, though the U.S. denies it for a while. Finally, someone in Washington throws in the towel and tries to strike a peace treaty with North Korea -- mostly on Pyongyang's terms. Not a pretty outcome, but I think this is my working base-case assumption.


Q:

What effect do the sanctions placed on NK have on their missile program? Considering that they have seemed to largely ignore them

A:

I think Vladimir Putin put it best when he said a few weeks ago that the North Koreans will eat grass, but they won't give up their weapons program (that's a paraphrase). That's not to say sanctions have no place in policy, but if anyone's expecting sanctions alone to make Pyongyang give up its nuclear weapons, I've got bad news for you.


Q:

What do you think the US could do to calm the situation? What do you think would be helpful at all to get to some kind of peaceful resolution or at least de-escalation?

A:

Many of us who live in South Korea and the region would certainly sleep more easily with some kind of deescalation. But it seems like the current U.S. administration is trying to use escalation as some kind of a policy tool. But I haven't spoken with the president lately, so I'm not sure exactly what is going on.