tv Amanpour on PBS PBS April 27, 2018 6:00am-6:30am PDT
welcome to "amanpour" on pbs. tonight, from seoul, south korea, as a historic summit with the north gets under way. i go one on one with this country's foreign minister, determined to find a path to peace on the peninsula despite the odds. plus a word of warning from a former top korean insider. a deputy ambassador to the uk-turned-defector, he tells me why he doesn't believe the north's prepared to give up its nuclear weapons. good evening, everyone. and welcome to the program.
i'm christiane amanpour in seoul. an historic moment here, and it's arrived at dizzying speed, after years of violent rhetoric, the two korean leaders meet face-to-face, attempting to pull off a near-impossible task, bringing peace to the peninsula. there are plenty of skeptics but south korea is radiating optimism, determined to begin a successful process widely seen as a predoes tore a summit between president trump and kim jong-un to dismantle pyongyang's nuclear program. no expens, minute detail, or careful choreography have been spared. i felt the optimism up close from south korea's money minister. when we sat down in her office she told me her president has put his leadership on the line for this. foreign minister, welcome to the program. >> thank you, christiane, very happy to be with you. >> it is an amazing opportunity,
some have called it a risky opportunity. are you surprised by how quickly this moment has arrived? let's face it, just four months ago, kim jong-un was talking about pressing nuclear buttons from his desk. president trump was responding in kind. >> i think we're all surprised. obviously pleasantly surprised. i think by all indications we are headed towards a very successful summit between my president and chairman kim. as i keep telling my colleagues, i feel like somebody stepped on the accelerator at the beginningful the year and it's been nonstop since then. >> how do you account for it? >> clearly credit goes to president trump. he's been determined to come to grips with this from day one. my president also since day one. and i think presidents moon and trump have worked very closely together sometimes in complementarity. sometimes in different messages. at the end the message was,
north korea will not be accepted, never be accepted as a nuclear power. and if it continues on this road and provokes, that every provocation will be met with further sanctions. but we've also said, but you need to change, but if you change course, there's a better future on offer that we are willing to work with you. >> so now comes the hard part. what does kim jong-un want? your president has said that he has put down no preconditions, not even the demand that they always make which is the removal of u.s. forces and ironclad security guarantees. i mean, really, there are no preconditions? you don't expect them to ask for anything? >> he did say -- what he did say was, if the threat of -- the military threat is removed, if it is guaranteed security, then there's no reason for him to have nuclear weapons. so those are two big items that he's put on the table.
we will know better with greater clarity at the table. so, you know, the details of the denuclearization commitment is really to be elaborated and explored at the summit table. >> denuclearization may mean different things to different people. as you heard president trump even just in the last couple of days say, what does it mean to him? it means dismantling and getting rid of the north korea's nuclear weapons program. just getting rid of it, ending it. and you, i believe, feel the same way. >> yes, yes. well -- >> what do you think they mean by denuclearization? >> again, you know, they clearly know what we want. and also, they had committed to the denuclearization jointly with south korea in 1992, which was exactly the removing any nuclear weapons and weapons development programs from the
rean peninsula. they've pretty much recommitted to that in the six-party agreement of 2005. so our goal is clear. denuclearization is a goal, but it's also a process. you need to have a process to get to that goal. so i think the task is then spelling out that process. >> critics have said that, you know, this is not the first time a north korean leader has talked about denuclearization or wanting to end the war with a formal peace treaty. but before, it's been sort of a bottom-up kind of thing. >> yes. >> in other words, economic aid has been given, humanitarian assistance has been given, some sanctions have been lifted, and boom, the whole thing collapses. so people are saying that in order for this to be more successful, that your president, for instance, in this summit, needs to establish a top-down process and be very clear about what your demands are. do you think that is what's going to happen? i mean, is your demand that sanctions won't be removed until
you can see verifiable dismantling of the nuclear program -- >> that is exactly our position. until we see visible, meaningful steps, action taken by north korea towards denuclearization, the sanctions are in place. regardless of the intention that we read in the end, it will be the actions that we will need to see. >> what is on the table from president moon's perspective? we've heard that he wants to talk about a formal end to the war. is that on the table? a peace treaty? >> peace in a -- peace is a i think, yes, at some point we will need a peace treaty to replace the armistice that was signed in 1953. but peace is also about the reality. you can't go from an armistice agreement day one to peace. you need to create the reality of peace.
by removing hostilities. and then when there is sufficient confidence on both sides, then you're ready to sign a peace treaty. >> so it's not something you're going to immediately put on the table? in other words, signing a formal peace treaty before even getting to a disarmament? >> oh, i think that would be unrealistic. i think certainly ascertaining the understanding and the aspiration on the part of both leaders in that direction will be a good thing. and i'm hoping that that will happen. but, you know, putting something on the table to be signed is, you know, long off in the future. >> do you feel a lot of pressure? does south korea feel a lot of pressure for this summit meeting? is a lot riding on it? >> yes, yes. pressure, but also a great deal of support. the president has, you know,
basically put his leadership on the line by this huge initiative. but i think he does so with confidence. and a clear set of where he wants to take this. >> how important is it that kim jong-un is going to come down to the demilitarized zone, to the peace village, and step kind of over the border into the south korean part of -- >> well, i think that alone is very significant. as you know, the two previous ones were held in pyongyang. they had made all the arrangements. we had placed trust in them to make sure that the summit took place. they are placing their trust in us. that's a good sign. >> what do you think will constitute success after the summit wraps up on friday? >> some kind of a joint statement that spells out the shared understanding of the two leaders. on a broad set of issues, which
is denuclearization, peace, and soth/north relations. if you can get put in writing the north korean leader's commitment to denuclearization, that would be a very solid outcome. but then this to be you know -- this would be the course setter for the next historic engagement, which is the u.s./north korea summit. >> and how do you analyze -- you must have been listening to what he's been saying to his own people in speeches and statements over the last several days and weeks. and the last one was when he essentially declared north korea as a nuclear power. and said that, we need a strategic course. and that is economic development. >> right. >> do you see that as genuine? that he's willing to have a different view of his country and that he's trying to bring his people along? he doesn't really have, to he's the ultimate power there.
>> when he so clearly states that in his declaration, i think it's not just rhetoric. it's clear commitment that i am going to be delivering this for this country. so i think it's genuine. >> many people thought president trump was being very dangerous with all the fire and the fury and the my button is bigger than your button and all that kind of stuff. did that concentrate south koreas' minds? did you feel you had did really get ahead of the curve and see if there was another way forward rather than a potential conflict? >>. >> i think in the end all options on the table. us consistently on the peaceful resolution side has in fact worked in complementarity. the first meeting between presidents moon and trump clearly spelled out the joint position on this which was pressure and sanctions, but also dialogue towards a peaceful
resolution. and that hasn't changed. i think the nuancing of that message on the day-to-day basis was up and down. but that has been the consistent joint stance. >> human rights have always been an issue when it comes to north korea. and there are people in the human rights community and elsewhere who are concerned that this is not part of the formal agenda. can you tell me whether it will be on the agenda? will you raise the issue of human rits, given tt north korea's considered to be if not the worst, then one of the worst violators? >> we're not sure north korea is ready to respond to this issue at this point. but the summit has been -- is being structured to be very flexible. so depending on how the discussions go, i wouldn't rule it out. >> you wouldn't rule out your president raising it? >> but i wouldn't count on it it's there, either. >> what is your fallback option, what is plan "b" if this summit somehow doesn't work? if you don't get the general
statement, if you don't get a feeling that actually this is going to lead somewhere? >> well, i don't want into hypotheticals but i think past experience tells us that however difficult the situation is, you need to engage. you need constantly to have them at the table. >> and after this summit, what then does president moon, how does he engage with president trump? is there going to be a meeting? what does he do? does he carry back a message that it's a red light, a green light, a yellow light? will he advise as to whether it's -- >> i'm sure our two presidents will be immediately on the phone for mr. -- for my president to debrief president trump. and depending upon how the u.s./north korea goes there could be a trilateral summit. >> at this point, you're confident there will be a trump/kim meeting? >> there will be. >> foreign minister, thank you very much.
>> thank you, christiane. thank you. >> so from that soaring confidence to crashing skepticism. not surprising since my next guest is the highest-level defector ever from the north. ty yung ho was north korea's deputy ambassador to the uk when he defected to the south with his family in 2016. he keeps a low profile here while advising the government and he shared his unique and vital insights with me. welcome to the program. the last time we spoke, you were in washington. you were testifying before congress about the situation inside north korea. it was the first time you'd ever been to the united states. >> that's right. >> and how did you find america? >> oh, it was my first visit. and i had a very good impression. especially i learned that the american congressmen were highly
interested in improving the human rights conditions of north korea. and they actually had really profound knowledge of north korea, which surprised me quite a lot. >> so what do you think today people inside north korea think? you had the opportunity to actually get out of the bubble, go to the united states, get a whole different view. what do you think people inside north korea think, particularly with the idea of these upcoming summits? >> whenever the world deals with north korea, whether it is a summit or diplomatic negotiations, whatever, the world should understand that north korea is a very special and unique country. it is the only place where the people are prevented creating quite a different
messages about its leader and its system. every day i watch north korean tv and i read the newspapers and medias. but actually, the propaganda work of north korea, it's saying quite different things to its citizens. >> what's it saying? >> it's saying that this peaceful atmosphere around north korea is the direct achievement and outcome of the completion of nuclear weapons development. >> so do you think that when he talks about denuclearization, that he is prepared under the right circumstances to dismantle, to give up his nuclear weapons? >> i'm very skeptical, i don't believe it at all. what kim jong-un wants to achieve through this upcoming
summit, including tomorrow's north and south summit, is a kind of acceptance as a leader of a new nuclear state. fwrins, tomorrow the summit will be held in panmunjom. >> that special town inside the dmz. >> that's right. even that special area of panmunjom is interpreted quite differently between north and south. in south korea, panmunjom is the symbol of peace which actually brought the end of korean war. but in north korea, panmunjom is the place where america was forced to sign a surrender paper. so panmunjom is the symbol of victory. and now tomorrow kim jong-un would appear as leader of nuclear state, he would be very
warmly welcomed and very accept ed. so north korea propaganda work may deliver a quite different image and uses to its own people in order to consolidate his long-term continuation of power. the most important thing for kim jong-un right now is to be accepted as the leader of nuclear state. so that is his priority. that's why kim jong-un actually never said about denuclearization of north korea. what he said that he would be committed to the teachings by his grandfather and father of denuclearization of korean peninsula there is a big difference between denuclearization of north korea and denuclearization of korean peninsula.
the main concept of denuclearization of korean peninsula is the withdrawal of all nuclear weapons of united states. >> but the u.s. has withdrawn them. >> yes. and also the prevention of any deployment or temporary introduction of nuclear weapons on korean peninsula or around korean peninsula. and thirdly, the complete stop of 90 nuclear threat on korean peninsula. the concept of any denuclearization of korean peninsula as understood and stated by north korea is quite different from the world is saying. and so far, north korean ministry of foreign affairs stated a couple of times that they would go on the denuclearization process of korean peninsula. they also said that the
denuclearization of north korea can only be started when the denuclearization of the world by the nuclear super powers do the similar things. so actually the timetable of north korea's denuclearization is deliberately matched to the denuclearization of the other nuclear power states. >> so that seems like a nonstarter. it's a nonstarter for south korea, it's a nonstarter for the united states. you heard president trump said that his version, his understanding of denuclearization, is total dismantlement. destruction of the nuclear weapons program. so then what do you expect to be the outcome of the north/south summit? >> i think there can be a kind of general announcement of
denuclearization of korean peninsula. not denuclearization of korea. so the general concept like denuclearization of korean peninsula would be in the final announcement of tomorrow's north and south. and so far, north korea has been consistent that the nuclear issue should be discussed between north korea and america, both of them are nuclear states. so they wanted to be treated as a nuclear state from america. >> so president trump has said that he will -- he's prepared to meet president -- president trump has said he'd prepared to meet the north korean leader, kim jong-un, and we'll see whether this summit prepares the way for that meeting. do you think president trump should meet him? >> i think so, yeah. meeting is always very important. i think president trump should
use the opportunity of dialogue and meeting that kim jong-un -- to tell him kim jong-un cannot reach his goal of nuclear state if he continues to possess nuclear weapons. and president trump should state very clearly that ame would continue its economic sanctions and military buildup if kim jong-un stays on the current track. but i'm very skeptical. because these days american government and american experts are saying that the complete cvid principle should be applied on the process of denuclearizing of north korea. >> what's cvid? >> the complete verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of nuclear weapons of north korea. but i'm very skeptical that
north korea is willing to accept that kind of principle. because the concept of cvid, it is really a nice word, but so far it has never been tried. >> tested or applied. >> tested to any country. to north korea, if they accept complete cvid, then that's the end of north korean system. >> as you know, there's been criticism that human rights will not specifically be put on the table in the north/south summit. what do you think about that? >> oh -- actually, at this time, it is very important to concentrate on denuclearization issues in upcoming summit. but the last destination of those reconciliation process or improvement of the relations between north and the world would be the human rights
issues. because no country in the world can be blind on the human rights -- the crimes and atrocities made by north korean leadership. so in the long run, i think nobody can avoid to discuss it. so that's why i think if you say about the real and genuine denuclearization of north korea, i think that kind of goal cannot be reached or achieved unless kim dynasty collapses. >> what about yourself personally? you obviously defected. but you still have family in north korea. and the last time we spoke, you told me you were even pleased to have seen them on cnn denouncing you, calling you a scumbag, a rotten scoundrel. and you were pleased because you said at least that was proof of
life. >> yes. >> do you have any news from them? >> after that cnn report, i haven't heard anything about my siblings or relatives. but i really do hope that they just go on their normal life. and i really do not want them to be punished because of me. >> i wonder what you make of the fact that president trump has been quite heated in his rhetoric about north korea, but kim has been very, very heated in his rhetoric as well about the united states and about his ability to threaten all of the united states. do you think they both view each other as slightly unpredictable and neither of them kind of knows what the other one's going to do? >> those rhetorics made by kim jong-un is actually -- was not the real ones. because kim jong-un knows very well that he cannot actually
attack america or guam. he understands the america military might. so that's why he is very much feared of president trump's unpredictability. >> he's afraid? >> of course, yes. he knows a north korean army is not ready for any kind of war with america. so he understands the reality of north korea. when trump delivered that kind of very strong rhetoric, kim jong-un could not be silent. because he's a young leader and he won't be regarded by north korean people as a kind of young hero and very strong leader, so there was no choice for him but to respond with more rhetoric, words and actions. so that is i think the natural
outcome from kim jong-un. >> thank you so much for your perspective. >> thank you. two views that show just how much is at stake for this peninsula. but also for the whole world. that's it for our program tonight. thanks for watching "amanpour" on pbs, and join us again tomorrow night when we'll have full details of this summit. and we'll be able to know perhaps a little more whether enough was achieved to pave the way for the next big one between kim jong-un and donald trump.