How much attention does North Korea pay to the US media and what we report?

North Korean military

We have taken ON THE RECORD at 10pm to North Korea 3 times with Reverend Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse.  

As you follow the current leak investigation story,  3 different incidents may give you an idea how closely NK is following what the media does in the USA.  While NK is almost hermetically sealed from the rest of the world, they are paying attention:

1/ I was at a dinner with about 20 people, including the North Korean Foreign Minister (or maybe Deputy Foreign Minister?)  I was suddenly surprised at the conversation.   The Foreign Minister (Deputy?) asked me about something one of my bosses here at Fox News Channel said that was quoted in the New York Times.  NK was obviously sending a message to me that they are watching.  That is why I was asked/

2/ On another trip I was greeted at the front door to a hotel and asked about the year before and accused of trying to sneak into North Korea via the DMZ.  I, of course, denied it —  I have never tried to sneak into North Korea via the DMZ or any other way.   I have always gone as an invited guest.  The NK’s were a bit heated about it and I was adamant that I had not, that they were wrong   I told them that I had never even been in South Korea.  As it turned out, I later realized (not sure if I told them at any time) that I had been in South Korea one time in my life, for about 2 hours,  the year before.  I had traveled to Afghanistan with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and after leaving Afghanistan, the US military plane stopped at a military airport in South Korea to refuel and for Secretary Clinton to meet with some South Korean officials.  She was going to go on to Viet Nam but I was headed back to the USA so I got off the US military plane and rushed from the SK military airport about an hour and 15 minutes to the commercial airport to catch a flight back to the USA.  I was in such a rush to get the commercial flight back to the USA that I had to leave my luggage on the US Military plane rather than wait to try and get it (I picked it up days later when Secretary of State Clinton returned to the USA.)  I arrived at the commercial airport in Seoul and had only about 10 minutes to spare (by the way, I bought a one way ticket, with no luggage, and a passport indicating I had been in Pakistan and Afghanistan on the trip and got no special security screening.)  That was the sum total of the time I spent in SK — so short, I never thought again about it — but the North Koreans were aware of my travel.  That is how close attention they pay.

3/ On one of our trips, I was walking into a dinner and got pulled aside by two high ranking North Koreans.  They were furious — they said that Fox News was reporting that NK was involved in some drug trade.  They were so stern with me that I was a bit concerned — you don’t play around when you are in North Korea.   I told them that I knew nothing about it and pointed out that if they were right about a Fox News report, that it occurred while I was in their country and was obviously not a part of it.  That response was not satisfactory — and over the course of about a 2 hour period, they periodically grilled me about it.  I kept repeating: “I know nothing about it.  I can’t deny or admit it even happened.  I am here with you and have been for days.”  They were so edgy about it that there was a part of me that wondered if I was in trouble.   The next day I left NK as planned.