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Peeking behind the North Korean curtain

April 10th, 2013
05:31 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Journalist Mike Chinoy is one of the few Americans who knows North Korea and its leadership well.

He met the late Kim Il Sung and he has visited North Korea on fifteen occasions.

Chinoy has been closely watching the unfolding situation in the peninsula and in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday he said that the current situation boils down to the fact that North Korea has made a determination that they want to be treated as a nuclear power.

“They are taking steps to show that they won't be intimidated by U.N. sanctions’ resolutions, by American displays of force like B-52s or B-2 stealth bombers conducting mock bombing missions over Korea, and that they are prepared to stand their ground,” he said.

Chinoy traveled with President Carter when war nearly broke out between North Korea and the United States in 1994, but was averted through negotiations.

Some argue that is the approach that should be taken now, while others say that would be rewarding North Korea even though they’ve broken deals made in the past.

However, Chinoy contends that it is actually not so black and white. 

“There is a conventional narrative that the North Koreans always do everything bad and nobody else does anything bad. The reality is that the North’s track record is mixed; they have, in fact, abided by some of their agreements to restrain some of their nuclear capacity over the years,” Chinoy told Amanpour. “And by the same token, the United States' track record is very mixed and Washington has not delivered a lot of what it has promised as well.”

A war will most likely be avoided, Chinoy predicted, but he said the real issue is the longer-term approach to dealing with a nuclear North Korea.

Absent an all-out war, Chinoy believes the only way something is likely to be accomplished is some type of a dialogue at a very high level.

Chinoy said that President Obama should consider naming someone outside the administration, like former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or former President Bill Clinton . Albright and Clinton both met Kim Jung-il.

“Send them, no strings attached, to just explore what might be possible, and to take Kim Jong-un's measure,” Chinoy said. He believes that this would help the U.S. learn about the new North Korean leader and get a sense of where he stands and in what ways he is different from his father.

“If you don't have a diplomatic track, what other options do you have if you're not going to go to war? Because it's clear that sanctioning and coercion do not product changes in North Korean behavior of the kind that the U.S. would like to see,” Chinoy said. “And what we've seen in the last few weeks shows that. Every time the U.S. has flexed its muscles, the North, instead of backing off, has flexed its own muscles in a more provocative way.”

READ MORE: How to contain Kim Jong Un

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Baron Cohen

    What in the world was Borat doing in NK? Rodman I can understand, but Borat... you can do better than that, man!

    April 11, 2013 at 9:02 am | Reply
    • JoseLuis

      YEES!!!!! ja ja ja, same thought crossed my mind, they guy is the perfect Borat look-alike. Borat, the ultimate time traveler.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:12 am | Reply
  2. Kalim

    Yep, Peking is behind the curtains!! And to a certain extent Moscow is too!! NK is a good way to threaten American interests in East-Asia!

    April 11, 2013 at 9:07 am | Reply
    • Oboco

      You have reading disability.

      April 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Reply
      • M I Snow

        NO, I think he knows exactly what he said.. and wouldn't be surprised if he's right... BTW- Clever headline by CNN w/ play on words... must have been unintentional.

        April 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  3. Joe Vargas

    Chinoy is a commie, always has been... that is why he got to visit his North Korea so many times (a very rare exception to normal exclusion for most western journalists); and why he meet with the first glorious leader. Now he is preaching the North Korea cause. No surprise there.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:36 am | Reply
    • Andy

      Commie? What is this, 1945?

      April 11, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
    • hoho

      mike doesn't know N korea still becaue he
      was as a special guest at that time. he could not a trip by self where to go what to do by himself without any escort in N .KOrea as like as n.koreans nowdays, he should need a permit where to go, what todo. this is N korea. imposssible!!!!. ms Ampour, do u think u can trip where to go, who want to meet as a free woman without any escort, without ur special job, just a regular visitor???? impossible,,,,,

      April 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Reply
  4. john Doughboy

    If N. Korea wants to be recognized as a nuclear power then let all the neighbors on the fast rack achieve nuclear weapons and out do this renegade power from the North. They don't realize the peaceful goals of a potential merger with the South as East and West Germany accomplished and make it a financial powerhouse on the Peninsula.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:47 am | Reply
  5. arwkoppen

    The article is quite clear; it just tries to tell N-Korean needs Nuclear Power for their Industry. And wants to defend that country. M I right? So why not let N-Korea stop the Nuclear missile development and let all World defend N-Korean's? =
    이 문서는 매우 분명하다, 그냥 N-한국의 산업 원자력을 필요로 말하려고합니다. 그리고 그 나라를 보호하려고합니다. 내 말이 M? 왜 N-한국이 핵 미사일 개발을 중지하고 모든 세계가 N – 한국어의를 옹호 해 두지?
    Could you please read the attached hyperlink? =
    당신은 첨부 된 하이퍼 링크를 읽어 주실 래요?

    April 11, 2013 at 9:56 am | Reply
    • John

      Don't use Google translate... for all of us expats who reside in S. Korea.... Do what must be done.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • mokh

      fdgg g ty y uf u ue yruu tru re

      April 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  6. chojac

    why can't American study the case wisely.... NK is a small nation with all pressure from South Korea... Peace wont prevail with your way of approach.. please do not detour our word with war by American lead, we had enough war now... look for better solution.. Ideology of US is clear to content raising China, you can do it but not war...

    April 11, 2013 at 10:15 am | Reply
  7. John

    Honestly, SK, should have responded when NK sunk the Cheonan. Obviously no one who lives in SK wants a war. My uncle fought in the Korean war, I still don't understand why there is no peace treaty. Certainly there must be more to it, than just countering the rise of China. Maybe you should have listened to MacArthur when he was here when it comes to China. There are tens of millions of lives at stake now, including my children. Peace is really our only option. If the North should indeed start a war, then I hope the US, and S. Korea have the gonads to follow through, and exact the ultimate price from N. Korea though.

    April 11, 2013 at 10:53 am | Reply
  8. hoho

    this is not a nuclear , this is a humunbeing in N korea, stole, cheat, killed, spy to S.korea, retreat.

    April 11, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  9. hoho

    1994??? a former presedint Kim of s.korea had a honor brother of N korea. he spported lots lots to N.korea. he fixed to keep a good realationship to N.korea with many kins special gifts(ciment, cash, ..etc). he got a noble peace prize later,but he made a strong strong power power of N korea military, nuclea missies. at last, S,korea got pay back a cheat, treat.again,again 2014... this was a stupid stupid things for S korean!!!!! wish to say......wake up N.koreans for a freedom, good life!!! not Gun, gun , gun on those hands, take a good life. don't stay under ground, out from underground life.

    April 11, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  10. Dianne

    I don't think that the Israelis would have tolerated from Iran or any other country the constant barrage of extreme rhetoric which the South Koreans and the Americans have tolerated from North Korea. The Israeli's would have acted out of self defense by now.

    April 12, 2013 at 10:45 am | Reply
  11. Mani lama

    To CNN and all human beings, You can lie me any time, but not to the Nature. Whatever the distant you keep to one object, or you will far from that object but Nature will be always near to you. May the in other words, Atom Bomb is 50 thousand km far from me but Nature is not. If the Naturewish......? Today the wisdom and time of the human is far, but the time and wisdom is coming near-near. Every things is time, Time is the Nature, Nature is the time, Time is the creation and ending. Time is greatest God in Universe, and we are all creation of the time. T's Modern God's Light.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  12. jeffreyw75

    Finally, an article about NK with someone making some sense over a way forward.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  13. hoho

    my huband who excaped with mother pyeonyang in korean war 1950 , N korea. at that time he was 2old baby, his father ,grandafafa ,,the others were murdered by Old Kim il sung leader commist because his family were rich with gold miner business 1948-1950. and and he was an military high officer, taught english of S.korea and my daughter american-korean . if they will attack s,korea,they will know myhus story, job,, they will kill again as like 1950 ages.....

    April 13, 2013 at 5:23 am | Reply
  14. Kintu Steven

    They a all stupid

    April 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  15. hoho

    Pl.don't leave this photo at cnn widow,because my father in law rich was murdered by this KImilsung in N.korea 1950-1953 , bytheway, my son 29 old(S.korea) who excaped his father with his grandmorther from pyeonyang 1950 in N korea , worry to die by N korea leader KIn jung un 29 old money boy nowdays......almost 60 years later again. this is a tragedic story 2 grand man and 2 grandson,,,,,,

    April 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply
    • hoho

      Pl. delete a mikechinoy and kim photo.. many peoples don't know what happened this comminst behavior,murered,treat, 1949-1953....

      April 15, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply

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