You know I have been to North Korea 3 times – and I have been safe every time – but the country has deteriorated so much I don’t think it is safe for any American (even with permission as I had each time)

North Korea, DPRK, Kim Jong Un

When you read the story below, you will agree with my headline.  As you know, recently an elderly American was pulled from a plane as he was departing North Korea (he was there with permission from the North Korean government) and subjected to interrogation and confinement (later released) and right now there is an American being held there who is not in good health. I am not sure whether he entered North Korea with our without permission.

If you are a journalist thinking of going to North Korea, even though I think this is not the time in history to go, do not pull that stupid stunt pulled by two American women journalists a few years ago.  They had no permission to be violating the borders of North Korea.  That was profoundly stupid and actually made it unsafe for everyone else that went there afterwards even with permission.   This is not a game…and no one should attempt to be a cowboy journalist and certainly not without permission from North Korea.

The last time I went to North Korea, with Rev Franklin Graham and WITH permission from the North Korean government, I got grilled about a story that had posted on the website and about which I knew nothing.  The article was posted while I was in North Korea – so I had zero to do with it and knew nothing about it.  They were furious and gave me a hard time about it.  The confrontation was uncomfortable and I had no idea where it was going.  Obviously all went well but they made me answer to it.  (You think they are not watching?  They knew I had changed planes in Seoul, South Korea the year before and quizzed me about that!  I was in South Korea for one to two hours — getting off Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Air Force plane at a military base in Seaul after traveling to Afghanistan with her – and switching to the commercial airport to get a flight back to Washington.  It was a close transfer – I just barely made my flight.  I do not consider that ‘being in South Korea’ but they did.  What they thought mattered a whole lot more than what I thought.)

Yes, North Korea is a mysterious place that we all want to write about but this just is not the time to do it.  Hopefully that will change …and change soon…but not now.

Read this story — see how they lured home two Ambassadors who were relatives of the now executed uncle.  Those relatives have been executed.  Of course I am assuming that story printed below is correct.  If it is not, the North Koreans know where and how to find me to correct it.

PS: I did meet many people in North Korea who were very nice to me….and after 3 trips spending time with them, I got to know them a bit.  I enjoyed my many hours of conversation with them — including two 8 hour road trips with them.  In a vehicle traveling that long, you talk about much and you make friends (as much as you can.)   I wish a very different future for them than the path there country is currently on. 

North Korea is a BEAUTIFUL country…and I would love to see things change there….open up to the world …and enjoy the freedoms we have here in USA.  I think just about the most exciting job would be to be the first US Ambassador to a FREE North Korea.  Imagine being part of that transition!  If only…right?

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North Korea ruler Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered that all blood relatives of his executed uncle be put to death, continuing an apparent purge of all he sees as threats to his reign.


South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing multiple sources, reported Sunday that “extensive executions” of relatives of Jang Song-thaek had been carried out.


“All relatives of Jang have been put to death, including even children, one source told Yonhap. Among those reported dead were Jang’s sister Jang Kye-sun, her husband and Pyongyang’s ambassador to Cuba, Jon Yong-jin, and the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-chol, a nephew of Jang, as well as his two sons.


In addition, Yonhap reported that the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of Jang’s two brothers were executed as well.


Jang Song-theak, an uncle of Kim Jong-un by marriage, held some of the most powerful positions in North Korea before he was arrested and put to death on December 12 of last year on charges of contemplating a military coup to overthrow the young dictator.


It was not immediately clear how many people related to Jang have been executed, nor was it immediately clear when the deaths took place. However, Yonhap reported that the ambassadors had been recalled to Pyongyang in early December and it is believed that their executions took place shortly after Jang’s.


“Some relatives were shot to death by pistol in front of other people if they resisted while being dragged out of their apartment homes,” another source said told Yonhap.


Some relatives by marriage, such as the Malaysian ambassador’s wife have reportedly been spared the purge and sent to remote villages with their families.