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tv   Piers Morgan Tonight  CNN  December 19, 2011 12:00am-1:00am EST

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have. let's listen. *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*- [ speaking a foreign language ] and incation -- indication the cult of personality, inside that country. it was one way which he maintained absolute control. it is impossible now though to say what north korea will be like without kim jong il. but as we gather international reaction, let's take a look at what might be written about the
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self-proclaimed dear leader in the history books. here's dan rivers. >> reporter: kim jong il always cut a bizarre figure. his diminutive stature and hair was parodied by some in the west. but for those in korea, kim was the embodiment of this state. he was loved, worshipped, obeyed, his cult of personality was deeply entrenched. his father founded north korea with soviet backing after world war ii. he was just a little boy when the korean war broke out in 1950. but the soviet-backed north invaded the north. kim jong il became steeped in his father's philosophy of juche or self-reliance and the north became more reclusive. the north and south never signed a peace treaty, and remained
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technically at war. gradu gradually, kim jong il was groomed for the top, making public appearances in front of cheering crowds. when kim il-sung died in 1994, he was the president. and by 1998, as head of the army he consolidated his position of absolute power. >> he will be remembered as a person who was responsible for awful things. for the existence of one of the worst dictatorships in probably not only korean history, but in the world history. at least in the 21st century. yes, he did not create the dictatorship. but he took responsibility and made sure it continued for many year years. >> reporter: he was known for his love of fine wines, where food shortages were common.
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while the dear leader as he became known is said to have indulged in the appetite for the finer things, his people were literally starving to death. the collapse of the soviet union hit north korea hard. suddenly ending guaranteed trade deals. and then, devastating floods compounded the famine. estimates varied for the number that died, but even the regime itself admitted that almost a quarter of a million perished between 1995 and 1998. some say it was more like ten times that figure. but in the capital of pyongyang, the artifice was maintained and if they progressed under their leadership. kim jong il was known as a film buff. here visiting the set of a north korean production. his personal library was said to have 20,000 titles with "rambo"
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and "friday the 13th" topping the dear leader's favorite picks. there was a thaw, the first-ever summit between kim jong il and his counterpart from the south, president kim dae-jung. the sunshine policy of engagement seemed to be bearing fruit. but kim jong il pressed ahead with the nuclear weapons program. the u.s. labelled it as parent of the axis of evil in 2002. north korea withdrew from the nuclear nonfro live race treaty. it added extra urgency to the six-party talks designed to deal with north korea's nuclear program. a break through came in 2007 when kim jong il finally agreed to disable the nuclear reaction in return for fuel and better relations with the u.s. but despite dramatically blowing up the cooling tower, north
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korea seemed to back track afterwards. the deal appeared to be in jeopardy. the capture of two u.s. journalists, laura ling and euna lee sparked another crisis. it ended when president clinton got their release. kim jong il will be remembered as a nearly impossible man to bargain with. stun bo-- stubborn and fickle i equal measure. in one of the most repressive, reclusive regimes in the world. dan rivers, cnn. >> of course, now all eyes are on the man who is likely to take his place. that will be his son, kim jong un, his youngest son. there's very little known about him. he's believed to be in his late 20s and understood to be a very polite, quiet young man and a
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man of little experience in how to run a dynastic, hereditary, stalinistic regime that is being handed to him by the death of his father. and many questions are being asked is this an opportunity or will this bring more chaos and conflict on the korean penins a peninsula? elise is joining us on the line once again. as far as the state department is concerned, how are they viewing this moment in time? >> well, i think we're a little -- i think it happened a little bit sooner than they thought it would. they don't know who is on the -- is kim jong un making decisions at this point or the regent, or the sister of kim jong il, is he making decisions? i think there's a period of uncertainty for the united
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states. they have seen some progress over the last six months or so in the engagement. i think they're going to put on the brakes a little bit, trying to decide what they're going to try to do. the message over the next 24 to 48 hour, are they going to offer condolences? are they going to anoint so to speak the so-called new leader that the -- that we are -- it hasn't been announced obviously yet. i think the u.s. is going to really tread very carefully. there won't be a wholesale engagement, overnight the u.s. isn't going to embrace this young, untested leader. but i don't think they want to close the door to what was -- what we have been talking about all evening, that this could be an opportunity. could be a more benevolent leader than his father? but he could be a much more unpredictable leader. he's untested. the north koreans want to
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portray him as in command. could that mean an overture towards the west or some provocative behavior towards the south? they really don't know. i think they'll be watching and waiting to see kim jong un as they closely coordinate with south korea as we have been discussing. >> elise on the line with us from the state department. one of the big questions of course is what happens next with the six-party denuclearization talks which have been going on and off for a decade now. they're in the deep freeze, not because of north korea, but because washington and seoul have been holding off. although as elise has been reporting throughout the evening there's some move towards getting those talks back on track. some unofficial talks underway between the parties involved. but still no real movement there. china is the main moving force behind the six-party talks. it is also the only ally to
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north korea. and stan grant is live in beijing for us. the question, the six-party nuclear talks will be on hold for quite some time and people are wondering what will happen with north korea's nuclear program? >> yeah, it was only just last week that glen day n davies was expressing some optimism about a return to the talks. interesting as well, china had taken such a lead role in bringing this together. what was fascinating about this six-party talks was that you brought so many enemies if you like, certainly rivals to the table. we know that north korea has had problems with japan, south korea and the united states. china and japan of course have had their ongoing tensions. historically based tensions. china and the united states is an emerging superpower rivals
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throughout the region. it was a framework that allowed all of those contending, competing interests to sit down around a table. but really what was crucial in all of this, what north korea had stressed that it wanted all along was not a six-party framework. it really wanted a two-party framework. north korea wanted to be able to speak directly to the united states. it wanted to be able to negotiate a full peace treaty, not just the armistice that existed at the end of the korean war, but a full peace treaty to put an end totally to that conflict. and also to negotiate one-on-one with the u.s. about the future of the nuclear programs. about full diplomatic recognition, about the ongoing role of aid, about the ongoing role of u.s. troops in south korea. that's what it wanted. the u.s. wouldn't come at those direct talks, but the six-party framework at least provided an opportunity for all of those
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very contending and competing interests to be able to sit down and have that negotiation. and crucial to that, of course, was the role of china in being able to bring north korea to the table. john? >> and stan, while you have been talking, we just had some -- a wire move, japan expressing condolences on the death of kim jong il. the reason that's significant, something we have been looking for is how countries in the region react to the death of kim jong il. do they express condolences as japan appears to have just done then or do they ignore the death or do they speak in harsh terms about the north koreans? clearly japan taking a view that it is better to try to calm the situation by expressing condolences. what will be more crucial than what japan says will be what the south koreans say. >> yeah.
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indeed. of course, in south korea potentially, although when they have talked about the implosion of north korea, of course, it would have enormous consequences for south korea. we're getting ahead of ourselves to look at this scenario. but even a potential reunification of the peninsula, how much of a load it placed on west germany to be able to financially broker that deal, to be able to bring in a country that had fallen behind the 8-ball economically. the same problem would present itself to south korea. what is fascinating here, john, i think you may have touched on this earlier, it wasn't always thus. north korea up until the '80s was growing much more strongly than south korea. it was the dominant economic party there. its gdp was stronger than south korea. of course, we have seen south korea emerge as a global power house, establish its brands
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around the world. so that will be really crucial. the japanese/north korea relationship is fascinating because while japan was negotiating as part of the six-party talks, that's another issue here. the number of japanese people, particularly women who had been kidnapped from japan and taken to north korea, there had been an admission from north korea during the talks that yes, that did happen. and there were negotiations on the sidelines between japan and north korea about the return, the repatriation of those people who had been kidnapped. indeed, some had been able to go to home. a personal issue for many japanese families as well who have lost people who have been kidnapped an taken to north korea. >> and correct me if i'm wrong, but i believe there was an apology from north korea for that. i wanted to go back to kim jong un, because there was some hope who this young man who had been educated a at boarding school in
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switzerland, who has traveled the world, likes michael jordan and basketball, was seen as being a bit more well rounded than his father who very rarely left the country. who traveled everywhere by train if he left the country. so there's a hope that because kim jong un has seen more of the world, he may be a better leader. >> yeah, it's a generational shift, isn't it? we do know that it's rumored he spent a couple of years at school in switzerland. you're right there, his interests are more broad. he's interested in basketball. he's been exposed to the western and it's interesting to see how that plays out. the impact that the west may have had on him. it may have hardened his views, who's to say? we don't know that much about him. he's made trips to china. he's been introduced by his father to the chinese leadership. it was obviously to get their seal of approval. what's fascinating here too,
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john, how much authority he's able to exert within his own country. now, we know his father had very much had the seal of his father. but the military is huge there. he's a military state. and how much influence, how much authority he can command over the military is going to be crucial. but i harken back the attack on the island, he was trying to assert his authority, jong un said this is what i'm capable of doing as well. so, yes, he's going to have to present himself as a man of steel. but the unknown is just what an impact that western exposure, that western experience may have had on him. and how broad his view may be, john. >> okay, stan, stan grant, live for us in beijing as we try to gauge exactly what the world is
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saying and doing now that kim jong il, the north korean leader, has been leader since 1994, was never president because that was the position held by his father, who still holds that position as president of the dprk. he has that position for life and that avoids the need for pesky elections. former cnn international correspondent christiane amanpour traveled there in 2008. she shared her memories with us a short time ago. >> we were there with a team in 2008. first, with the new york philharmonic. there were negotiations going on between north korea and the united states. and they came to fruition in june of 2008 when you're right, we saw the nuclear tower, the water-cooling tower at the yongbyon plant blown up. it was a moment of hope then which rapidly came to an end in the summer of 2008 because
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apparently about that time, most people expect that kim jong il suffered a stroke. as his health deteriorated, negotiations fell apart and there have been none since then, except over the last few months, that the north korea and united states have been talking. there were talks that potentially a food deal could be announced, nutrition deal between the united states and north korea this week potentially. and there were reports as yet -- not completely confirmed, but that there might be some deal, some movement on a nuclear deal with north korea. again, agreeing to suspend their enrichment activities. but again, this has not yet been announced, but that was something that certain united states negotiators who had met several times over the past several months, both in geneva and beijing had hoped to bring to fruition. >> and now everyone is looking
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to kim jong un, we think he's in his late 20s. he likes basketball, we heard mike choi say he's a quiet, polite man. but is this the young man with very little experience the man who can essentially create the cult of personality as his father and grandfather did? >> well, it's probably unlikely that he will be able to do that. even kim jong il was not able to maintain the cult of personality that his own father did, kim il-sung. and certainly when kim jong il nominated his young son to take over, people are concerned. he's very young. he doesn't have that much experience that we know of. and he's going to be taking over, we presume a nuclear nation. we will have to wait and see. the issue here is whether it will promote more hard-line policies from some of the old
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guard. whether they will sort of, you know, circle the wagons around this young man. and whether it will put a stop to some of these negotiations that were going on with the united states or whether they would be able to go through nonetheless. >> christiane amanpour, giving us insight about what the new kim jong un may be like. a few details to bring you. the south korea's military has raised the alert status. we now it is to the middle of three levels. that is coming from the ministry of defense. also, we are told police across south korea have been ordered to be on emergency work shifts. that's coming from the national police agency. china is north korea's closest ally. we had the new video just in. the flag being lowered at north korea's embassy in beijing. many watched as the flag is raised and then lowered again to half-staff. of course, this is a sign of mourning for kim jong il.
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and we are now hearing from japan, at least according to the press that that country, that tokyo is expressing condolences for the passing of kim jong il. that will be seen as diplomatically significant. elise is on the line to talk more about that. a sign perhaps that japan wants to calm the waters, at least? >> yes. relationships between japan and north korea really have been tense and japan really being one of the most hard-line countries in these six-party talks and mainly that's been the issue of japanese peace by north korea. there have been talks over the years about how to return -- but they have really wanted the united states to take this issue into account. i think they would have hoped that that would be more of an issue in those six-party talks. certainly the u.s. continues to mention it. but it hasn't been one of the big issues. i think that japan might also as
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the united states, as south korea see this as an opportunity to reach out to north korea and see what the options are, john. i mean, as we have been talking about, we really don't know about the supposed leader, kim jong un, about if he's making the decisions and to pick up on the point that stan was making earlier, i think that the united states has been wondering was the shelling of the south korean island, was that a move by kim jong un to assert himself? and this is even more unpredictability and senior officials are telling us, senior u.s. officials are telling our national security senior producer who covers intelligence for us, a very uncertain time, south korea has reason to believe concerned. everybody has a reason to be
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concerned because an unpredictable north korea is an unpredictable region. >> we should looking at the youngest of i kim jong il's sons. we can see in the photographs that he's overweight. that he may have some kind of diabetes problem. he is said to look like his father when his father was in his mid to late 20s. he is also said according once again to some reports that he shares his father's temper. elise, if i stay with you, why is it so little is known about this young man and so little is ever gained from an intelligence point of view? >> well, the most obvious reason, not a lot is known from the united states on north korea is because they don't have relations. i mean, there's very few talks. we talked about low-level discussions between the u.s.
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envoys in washington and officials at the north korean mission to the united nations. that's the typical what we call the new york channel. that's really the most common channel. they pass messages the united states and north korea, but no real relations. the u.s. doesn't have a presence on the ground there. so north korea is known as -- they call it the hermit kingdom. why isn't there a lot known about kim jong un? they're a cult of one. kim jong il had a cult of personality himself, the dear leader, and not much is known about the party. not much is known about the military. obviously, we have been hearing from a lot of experts on our air that study north korea a little bit more, but north korea makes a deliberate choice for everybody to know about this personality of one. the dear leader. >> okay.
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elise, please stay with us. we'd like to go now to ambassador -- the former south korean ambassador to the united states. he's on the line. ambassador han, thank you for being with us. can you tell us right now what is the reaction inside south korea? exactly what will be happening within the military and within the government? >> well, the government has put on the military and all government officials on alert. the people of course are very much interested in what is going on. and interest in the stock market is getting a beating, it's going down. i don't know why. people think that this is not conducive to a peaceful
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situation. >> so ambassador han, you're also south korea's foreign minister for a time. could you tell me what can you share with me about the plans that were in place? obviously had been in place for quite some time in the event of kim jong il's death? >> well, i don't know. i can't talk about the detailed plan, but i was the foreign minister when his father, kim il-sung, died in 1994. and we had then and i'm sure right now, we had plans to make our military and security ready for any unforeseen and untoward provecatio
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provocations and events, and also we had to see what's going on. a very important part of the preparation would be to have very close consultation with the countries, particularly allies, the united states, japan, china, russia and so on. >> and so what do you think is happening inside pyongyang right now? >> well, pyongyang took two days to announce the death of kim jong il and also announced a makeup of -- what they call the committee which consists of 232 members, headed by kim jong un, the third son. and so they are trying to put up a face that is both orderly a aand united. we are not sure whether that's natural or any foul play, but
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regardless they are trying to put up a best face. under the circumstances. >> and the statement which came out by state media from pyongyang said he died on a train while inspecting a garrison. i think -- do you think that? >> well, he looked quite well in the picture that was taken only two days ago -- two days before his supposed death. and so of course sudden deaths can happen, but this was certainly unexpected. there was expectation that he might pass away within a few years, but i don't think north korea itself was prepared for this early happening of the death.
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>> right. i don't want to put words in your mouth, but you suspecting there may have been something else responsible for his death other than natural causes? >> well, i don't think we can rule out anything. but under the circumstances, i don't think it's wise to put anything into words as such. >> and as far as the south korean government is concerned, sir, do you see this as from this chaos which could come possible opportunity? >> well, from the point of view of all the governments concerned, i think always predictability and orderliness is better than chaos. and that right now it seems that north korea -- the leadership in particular is trying to
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demonstrate that they have an orderly succession process. it was not the same as when kim jong il took over from kim il-sung because kim jong il had 20 years to prepare, whereas kim jong un only had two or three years. and so he will not be as easy or orderly as it was before. but even then, it was not very soon after kim jong il surfaced. he waited for three years before he was officially the successor to kim il-sung, his father. >> okay. ambassador han sung joo, also the former foreign minister there on the line. giving us some perspective and
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raising new questions about the death of kim jong il, the leader of north korea. just to recap and bring you up to date with everything that we know right now, about kim jong il's death, state media announced he had in fact died on saturday. they made the announcement within the last few hours, he had a heart attack whilst traveling on a train. an autopsy did confirm the cause of death, it did take two days for the announcement to come out. we have been told that his son, kim jong un will head a funeral committee of 232 people. the ambassador just told us that. also, we know the stock market in south korea is taking a beating right now because of the uncertainty which this means on the korean peninsula and also for the region. there will be a funeral for kim jong il on december 28. and a period of mourning in north korea from december 20 to
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december 27. right now though, it is impossible to say what north korea will be like without kim jong il. but as we gather international reaction and perspective, let's take a look what might be written about the self-proclaimed dear leader in the history books. >> with the bouffant hair, platform shoes, oversized sunglasses and trademark jumpsuit, kim jong il looked the nutty tyrant. >> the appearance made it a little bit more difficult to treat him seriously, at least at first. >> he was the diminutive dictator who indulged in fine wine and foreign prostitutes and who held power over nuclear weapon and forced the united states to talk. >> that is not the image of a
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man who drunk wine during the day. >> he was portrayed as a political military technological artistic and cinematic genius. a renaissance man who's flown fighter jets and shot 11 holes in one in his first try at golf. his public appearances were breathlessly reported on state media. he was hailed as the central brain, and the morning star. ♪ he was a crazed ruler who loved to make people dance a million of them all at once and all in step. he presided over a nation more cult than country. he chased away fierce storms and give us faith, they sing. his official biography said he was born in a log cabin on a sacred korean mountain under rainbows and stars. west earn scholars say it was probably at a soviet camp where his father was training to fight. he loved movies.
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james bond was apparently among his favorites. but he reportedly was unhappy with north korea's portrayal in "die another day." no word on what he thought about "teen america." ♪ in the late 1970s it's believed he personally ordered a kidnapping of a south korean actress and her director husband. and for eight years until they escaped, forced them to make propaganda films. kim did apologize for north korea's kidnapping of 13 japanese, and allegedly approved the bombing of an airlines flight which killed more than 100 people. the apparent motive was to disrupt the 1988 olympic games in seoul where u.s. officials dubbed north korea the soprano state for its role in organized crime, including the production of heroin and methamphetamine. >> his legacy will be that he actually made some pretty bad choices for his country. >> he was the man who every day it seemed had a bad hair day.
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who starved his people, threatened south korea with the fourth largest military in the world. and built missiles that could reach japan and possibly beyond. the certainty of his brutality is gone. in its place, the terrifying uncertainty of what comes next. we are finding out right now what in fact is coming next. in the south korean president, according to reuters news agency is asking south koreans to carry on with their daily life, but there's been immediate reaction on the south korean stock market. from the very opening, it was down almost 5%. let's go to pauline chu now. she's following the market reaction. what are the numbers? >> well, they're all in negative territory, john, and the koskie has recovered a bit. the nikkei down by just under 1%. and the hang seng and the shake
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hang composite in negative territory. let's look at the time line of the kospi from earlier today. when you look at the time line, you can see that the kospi plummeted right when the news came out that kim jong il had died. then it gained a little bit. right now, it's gaining a little bit as i mentioned so it's gaining some traction here. let's take a look also at the nikkei. now, traders in japan, they were on lunch break when the news came out, and take a look at what happened in the nikkei earlier today. their lunch break was from 11:30 to 12:30 here. as soon as the traders came back, you can see that the nikkei went down quite dramatically, but it's regained since then. then let's take a look at how the korean wan has done against the u.s. dollar. i want to show you what happened when the news came out. you can see that as the news came out, there was a big sell-off of the korean wan.
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that means it weakened, and at the highest point it was trading at 1179 to the dollar there. let's take a look at the other currencies, how the u.s. dollar is performing against the yen and also the euro today. if we can pull up that graph. okay. we don't that have that graph, but i do have notes from earlier. the u.s. dollar has strengthened because of this news of kim jong il having passed away. keep in mind that the u.s. dollar has strengthened anyway against the euro because of the euro zone debt crisis. now, earlier, the u.s. dollar was trading against the yen at around 77 yen to the dollar. so that means that the yen is weakening and it was trading against the euro at about $1.29. so very interesting movements today. john, that the markets are down. but this news about the passing
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away of kim jong il is not the main issue here for the markets. it's also those ongoing worries coming ought of europe. >> yeah, just seems to be another factor on top of a tumultuous times for the market. if i remember when the islands were shelled by north korea, the stock market took a dive. but a lot of questions now about what kind of economy is left behind in the wake of the ruler, kim jong il. i mean, he kept the place sealed up. they have been under sanctions for years. what shape is the economy in? >> well, it's still a little bit of a mystery of exactly what happens inside north korea. but we do know that the economy is very fragile. many, many people don't have enough food to eat. and the currency at one point, there was a re-evaluation of the currency in north korea. that turned out to be a disaster where a lot of people lost their savings. and the north korean economy, very much relies on trade with
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china. 80% of their economy is made up of trade with china. so china, very much a huge influence there. and many north koreans actually rely on the private markets. really the black market to try to make it day to day. but it is an imaboveripoverishe society if you go outside of pyongyang. that's the question whether or not the successor to kim jong il will make any sort of improvements, whether relations with china will get better. but that's the big question mark -- what will happen within the economy of north korea and what will up what to the people -- what will happen to the people in their daily lives there. >> one of the question marks we're working our way through here. thank you, keeping your eye on the markets from hong kong. one other bit of news coming to us. we're hearing from north korea in response to kim jong il's
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death. north korea's national funeral committee said on monday, we should increase the military capability in every way to reliab reliably safeguard the gains of the situation. however, the word we're getting is so far there's no increased military activity on the north korean side of the border. even though the south koreans have raised their level of alert. we'll take a short break in our ongoing coverage here of the death of kim jong il. we'll be right back. ♪ [ boy ] looks like our work is done here. i'm heading home. vaaa vrooom! need some help, ma'am? grrrrrrr! [ in high voice ] oh thank you. these things are heavy. zzzzzzzz! [ male announcer ] built for work. and everything you work for. hey, honey. i'm glad you're home.
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welcome back to our continuing breaking news coverage of the death of kim jong il. the north korean leader died on saturday, according to north korean state media. he died of a massive heart attack. it took them two days to make the announcement a that he h had -- that he had died whilst on a train. an autopsy confirmed the cause of death. we do know the funeral will be held december 28. a period of mourning has been declared from december 20 to december 27. this is being felt around the region and around the world. the south korean president is asking the south koreans on to continue with their daily life,
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while the government in seoul has raised the military alert to the second level of three levels as well as placing all government workers on an emergency footing. south korea continues to monitor the north, but according to wire reports they say there is no evidence of increased north korean military activity in the light of kim jong il's death. calling for calm too is china. a close ally of north korea. they too will be keeping a very close eye on the situation inside north korea. fearful of any implosion of the regime which is obviously still a wild card if you like it, at this statement. fierce speculation, it does seem to be business as usual while they plan the funeral for kim jong il and while they plan to hand over the power to kim jong il's youngest son, kim jong un. let's go to stan grant, he's
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live for us once again. for china, and beijing, a period of calm and trying to keep the situation normal in these unusual times will be of paramount. >> yes, a lot at stake here. let's look at what china has on the line. china of course is the major economic benefactor to north korea. it is responsible for about 50% of exports from north korea. about 50% of imports as well. around about 70% to 80% of all north korea's fuel comes directly from china. the economic situation is going to be absolutely crucial. you know, we're doing a lot of talking about what this is going to mean for south korea, for the united states. potential implosion. let's just look at the realities as they are right now on the ground in north korea. the dire economic circumstances. you know, the economy there contracted by about 50% during the 1990s. north korea was increasingly isolated with the collapse of
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other communist regimes who had relationships with north korea. north korea mired in debt. continued to spend more and more money on the defense. around about 20% of the gross national product in the '90s was put into the defense force. this military shield to keep out the rest of the world. the consequence of that was widespread famine across the country. there's speculation that the numbers of dead reaches into the millions. we have seen and heard horrendous stories about people risking all to flee the country. to defect. both into china and south korea, anywhere else they were able to get, to try to find a better life. there are round about 30,000 refugees living in china right now. the big concern in china is that any collapse, any uncertainty within the regime they may see more people living in the dire circumstances make a run for the border, try to get across into
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china and that's something that china needs to guard against for its own stability and the impact it would have on north korea. >> stan, stay with us, because there's some slight development from the u.s. perspective, at least. our senior producer is at the state department, elise, and i understand that president obama and president lee have spoken. >> we don't know that for sure, john, but obviously i know -- we do know that south korean and u.s. officials have been on the phone. i understand that the white house has reached out to the blue house which is the south korean president's office. so we don't know -- i don't know specifically that they spoke, but i do know that the two governments have been in touch at the highest levels. and the relationship between south korea and the united states as we have been discussing is really the most critical relationship in all this. the u.s. and south korea really lock step for the last year or so since the sinking of the
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south korean submarine by north korea and then the shelling of yongbyon island. the u.s. and south korea really lock step in every -- in every case here. the u.s. as it has been engaging with north korea has only been doing it as far as they have been comfortable with it. as far as they have been ready to have the united states engage. and all the while the united states has been saying that the u.s. would not be engaging north korea on the so-called six-party talks in the nuclear issue unless the talks between the north and the south would improve. it would seem that the u.s. as it kind of pushed and prodded the south koreans in recent months, listen, we're going to engage, we'd like you to move a little closer to north korea. >> so i want to bring stan back in. stan, because when we see the relationship between south korea
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and the united states, and that tends to box china into a corner a bit, doesn't it? and it tends to really push them into north korea's corner. so you have the standpoint, the americans backing the south koreans and in a situation like this it makes for a tense time. >> yeah, it does. you know, i'd actually argue that the critical relationship here is really the relationship between the united states and china. the genius of the six-party talks was that it brought various foes together, to sit around the table. the united states could speak directly to russia, could speak to china. china could speak to japan. really what's emerging out of this is this ongoing rivalry. the superpower rivalry in the region between china and the united states. the last thing i think many observers would want to see is both retreat to their neutral corner, to see the united states side with south korea and china side with north korea. this is really going to be a test about how these two powers
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are able to work together. their willingness to work together. just in recent months we have seen the u.s. refocus throughout the asia pacific saying that the asia pacific -- that the u.s. is here and is going to remain here with the drawdown of troops in iraq, the drawdown of troops in afghanistan. they're actually putting more troops into the region. even boots in the ground in australia. many interpreted that as a continuing effort by the u.s. to try to contain china's rise. on the chinese side, china has stated ambition is to become the prepond rapt power, and we know that there are disputes between china and other countries in the region about territory, about disputed islands and so on. this is a critical relationship, how china and the united states will try to work together and bring stability and will see a real ratcheting up or much more of a focus on that key relationship, a real defining period here. >> one thing that strikes me
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about this, stan, after kim jong il had his stroke back in august of 2008, he did look frail, he did look weak. but he seemed to have got better. he seemed to -- he had lost weight. he seemed to be a little bit more vibrant. certainly on the images that north korean state television had allowed the world to see. so for many people, this came as a very big surprise. i think if he had died a year ago none of us would have been taken by surprise, but now it has actually really been very unexpected. >> yeah, that's a really good point. i remember -- cast my mind back six years ago, doing a story b eeb -- about kim jong il coming to china and remarking then he started to appear to look a little frail. i think you'd reported on that throughout your time here as well. and you are right. i certainly noticed and others had commented on the improvement in his appearance of recent times.
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but, but, you know, i suppose in any illness, what when we don't know the exact cause of the illness, there was a stroke spoken of, people can improve their physical function, perhaps that may have been some indication. we don't know the full extent of the medical problems, but yes, you're right. but yes anecdotecally, pure observation, he did appear to be a little bit more robust in recent months. to that extent this may come as some sort of a surprise. his ongoing health issues though would have given north korea, china, an opportunity to rehearse any contingencies. the fact he'd brought his son further into the spotlight that he had brought his son to china to introduce him to chinese leadership, this is another one that you had any illusions about his own mortality. certainly he would have seen the prospect of that and needed to put the succession in place. the timing, just how quick it
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was, how sudden it was, that's going to lead to a whole lot of other speculation, john. >> what we have not addressed is the remaining family members because we know he has three sons. tell us about the oldest and the second eldest. >> yeah. intriguin intriguing, isn't it? remember the story about trying to get the oldest to get -- to visit disneyland. what? i mean, that only added -- that only added to the eccentric nature of this regime. i think at one point he was talked about as a potential successor as well. kim jong un has had a lower profile, he's been seen as someone a little bit more sober minded and certainly someone who would carry the mantel of authority a little bit -- with a little more dignity. than trying to get into the tokyo disneyland. but he's also someone who is
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exposed to the west. was rumored to have attended school in switzerland for a number of years, and had an interest in basketball and michael jordan. what's interesting here, john, kim jong un's uncle, now, this is the husband of kim jong il's sister, someone who was emerged as a power broker in his own right, he's occupied seenior military positions and many looking to him as being the power behind the throne. his movements are going to be interesting as well. just what extent he adopts a role of power, whether he steps in as a leader while kim jong un serves more as an apprenticeship. that will be interesting as well. >> we have been looking at the images of kim jong il and he's surrounded with young generals with chests full of medals and they look incredibly -- shall we say, old and matured gentlemen
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of the north korean military. the question has to be asked is how will these old military men take to being ordered around by the inexperienced kim jong un, if in fact that is what happens? >> yeah, you mentioned the word mature. i think you're looking for relics. >> i was trying to be polite. >> relics of the cold war and relics of the korean war. but they have been used to a very pampered existence. the big bulk of the gross national product has been funneled into the military. the way to a comfortable life was to join the military and reach high rank in the military. they're used to that. they're a direct link to the korean war and their role is going to be crucial. whether they respect kim jong un, if i cast my mind back to
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the attack on yongbyon island, some were interpreting that as a sign that kim jong un was able to establish his own credentials. there are reports he had ordered that attack, to show, look, i can be a tough guy too. i can run the military. he's trying to establish his credentials with the aging generals. that comes back to the ongoing role of his uncle. what sort of role he plays in smoothing the way, how prominent his own leadership will be and how much sway he holds over the generals bristling with all their medals. >> absolutely. the military first policy is interesting. stan grant, thank you. let's recap the top story. the end of an era in north korea. north korean leader kim jong il has died. state tv says the 69-year-old leader suffered a heart attack saturday while on a train trip. it also said a funeral will be held december 28 in pyongyang. kim jong il had been in power
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since 1994, ever since his father died also of a heart attack. as we said the news of the dear leader's death was announced on north korean state tv and the anchor gave a very emotional delivery. [ speaking a foreign language ] >> and one last piece of news coming to us before we hand over to the staff in hong kong, the reuters news agency quoting from north korea saying that the
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north korean leader kim jong un is called the great successor. and an indication he will in fact be taking over from his father, as the ultimate ruler of north korea. we will take a short break. you are continuing -- well, while we continue with our breaking news coverage of the death of kim jong il, the leader of north korea. please stay with us. today, investors want retirement planning on their terms. i want to work with people who are objective. how about a plan with my name on it? can we start with realistic goals, please? show me how to keep more retirement money in my pocket. now and down the road. those are my terms. then this is your place. td ameritrade, where millions of investors plan for retirement on their terms. [ male announcer ] trade commission-free for 60 days. plus get up to $600 when you open an account.
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