tv Book Discussion on Without You There Is No Us CSPAN July 5, 2014 6:30am-6:49am EDT
panels about the current state of bookselling in the publishing industry and interview publishers about some of the books they plan to release in the coming months. >> author suki kim, where are you from? the >> from south korea originally. i was born and raised there and i came to america when i was 13. >> why did you come to the states? >> long story, but i thought immigrants do, there's a lot of problems in the night and did a in queens originally new york without a word of english. >> what do you do for a living today? >> i am a novelist and a journalist, so i is published a literary novel was how i began
writing and then i am coming out with a book actually. i have been a journalist since the first time it went into north korea in 2002 and that's when i first went into north korea and that is what i cover more or less. >> well, that is why we invited you on to booktv, to preview the book coming out. in fall of 20 for teen, "without you, there is no us: my time with sons of north korea's elite". how did you get a job in north korea? how did that come about? >> it took a long time. the first time i went in 2002 was by joining the pro-north korean group and then i went and were kim jong-il celebration in 2002. ..
it's set up by the christian missionaries and i actually got this job in 20011 which happened to be the last. >> and you got a job doing what? >> teaching english. >> how control plus your life lacks >> north korea is the most controlled state and that is the gravity and the violation that is unparalleled to any state in the contemporary world. so from the minute that you go and you will be followed every second. you give up your phone and passport and all that. >> you have absolutely nothing
on that can connect you to anyone. and then a reminder would be with you every time. you are not going to see as a pakistani were anywhere even a package to or you can go off but you go from site to site to site to cover north korea in any meaningful way that would reveal that. so we are always getting the soundbites that what is going on there in north korea. so that was 20 for/7 in their watch and the classes were taped for four days and it was reporting on the end of the reminders were in the same buildings as us and even in that room. >> did you presume that it was
bogged? >> it is so hyper controlled that you are just never left alone in a sense which is an automated the. it is impossible to imagine when you are sitting here. >> who are you teaching? >> i was teaching since i was 11. 2011 was an extremely important here in the north korean history. it's what they call the 100 years and in north korea they counted the year from the first day of the original leaders. all of the college students in the country for the 470 young men aged 19 to 20 they were transferred to the school.
the >> some of them were already there but my students had just gotten there very much before i got there and i got there in july of 2011. so these were the most of the construction bills of what they call the customer nation will. the storm is coming. that was my last day in north korea. the final chapter. >> dichapter. >> did you know that it was going to be the last day to?
i couldn't believe it when i was told. when i was told by a colleague it was at christmas time and i thought that they were talking about god but in that country you only have the great leader. >> were your lesson plans controlled. you have to get permission for everything. [inaudible] i really tried to find that in order to get to know them and it doesn't sound as if i love that.
i fell in love with all of them and i really wanted to teach that. but there are conflicting feelings because if i thought that they don't really know about the world, a lot of them, and i do because i am from the outside and they are never allowed outside of anywhere. they are never allowed outside of the compound at any time ever. so, they have no communication with the outside world, so i was always try and do in a way reveal the outside world to them, but it worries me because i thought as they learned more with what happened to them. >> what was the goal of the christian missionaries in setting up the school? think what is the goal of the missionaries anywhere? i think there is only one goal
they have their own purpose for getting into the school. in some way it has a positive ending up ibiza negative aspects i guess they were very determined to bring god as a part of the missionary purpose. when they went in as one and get to know my kids. were they allowed to ask questions? i come from the separated families will bring the more they will really have the vision
of korea that has always been in my family. another personal i guess it's not even interested in exception. my mother's brother was monitoring the war. the same thing happened to my father. so when we think about north korea this happened to a lot of the families. as a, i think that for us it is a heartbreak. north korea really i isn't a heartbreak. and i think that i really need to tell the story. it is a very personal story. which is i think why it is a very investigative account but also in some sense i wanted to relate that sense of what it means to have people over there in the south candidate of the families where for 5,000 years they are separated forever. because it ended in 1953 and here we are in 2014.
so when i started to want to relate to my kids i wanted some sort of dissenting or some way of connecting. >> were you allowed to wear western clothing? >> though genes were allowed into north korea. he might. but generally because it is a symbol of america. it was a very sort of conservative environment. but also it was a compound. none of us were allowed out. >> so you never really got to see the countryside. >> said you are taking this organized group of units. they were always at a certain time with a fast reminder and you go out in the room and come back into this room and so you see that is going to the rest of
the country. i think the way that this is a story that is a constant narrative story that happens in the prison. it is any daily life that we were living because i played basketball with van, i talked to them about their girls which they were great leaders but then they were breaking the and i do think that if you are locked in a fight with somebody slowly the understanding happens and i think this bond happens. so they've asked questions about america but very hesitantly. and i would always question
because i didn't want to get him in trouble. somebody is always watching. even the conversation. >> did you get the sense that any of the students wanted to leave? >> leave the country? >> there were definitely some sense is that i got that some were questioning a little bit because you can only question -- i think that the reason that this experience was so unique was also their age. they had been brought up into this system of the great leaders of. it's a one track minded system they wake up at 6:30 that their entire day is about to the great leader. so i think it is kind of like if you think of a really fundamental religion environment
even in that place you are constantly reporting on each other you can't report that because that means the consequent of that is a good log. so even if i saw a hint of that questioning they stopped it or i stopped at. >> now that you have written this book, could you go back to? >> no, absolutely not. absolutely not. and i think that i have -- they have said everything that they had to say that i have. all of my understanding into the heartbreak of the division into the personal stories and this beautiful comment beautiful young men who are trapped in the horrible system. i think that the ultimate goal in the buck is to humanize north
korea in some way because when they look at human suffering and we hear the words like 400,000 people are suffering during the famine getting those numbers don't quite register because we don't think of them as quite one of us you and me and i think that the portrait of this isn't the sort of political stand and then you start understanding and think of them as this fund 19-year-old that speaks to the great leader and the world they live in i think the more and more you fall in love with them, is that the leaders would begin to care so that it doesn't just enable the factor or its coverage is holding the handles of the comic relief of the great leader that i think is really, really wrong with the media to focus on it because it's not
that funny. it is the most violent and sad and tragic horrific place. >> where did you get the title "without you, there is no us"? >> my students always saying coming to the cafeteria. and marching like soldiers. it's one of the songs they would sing without you there is no us, without us there is no motherland. of course you is the great mother leaders of that always stuck with me and i would hear that song. sometimes i would just hum it. i would walk to the cafeteria and we would sit down and then i kind of -- even here in new york i would