Fareed speaks with Suki Kim, who spent months in North Korea as a teacher at a private university in Pyongyang, and is the author of Without You, There Is No Us, about her time there. Watch the full interview on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.
The sense one gets from the outside looking at North Korea is, honestly, it's the weirdest country in the world. It is the most strange social experiment. And the puzzle is, how does it survive? How is that people just docilely accept this incredibly authoritarian regime that's not just authoritarian, but totalitarian, really kind of tries to shape how you think, feel, breathe? What's your answer to that?
Well, I think it's a combination of many things. It's sort of this perfect storm. You have, first of all, this cult, serious personality cult. It's religious, really. Absolute belief in the great leader, this generation – three generations of these men who, these hugely narcissistic men basically wiped everything out of their culture except themselves.
So every North Korean wears the badge of the great leader. Their only holidays are the great leader holidays. Books, every article, every television, every song, I mean you name it, there's not a single thing. Every building has a great leader slogan. So I think when you have that kind of a personality cult, that's an incredibly powerful thing to be doing it for three generations.
You also have a very brutal military dictatorship that's been in place for a long time, and also to wipe out every communication method. There's no Internet. The phone calls are tapped or, you know, it's a small country. You can't travel within the country without a permission.