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[PREMIERING 7/20, 7:30PM ET] Defecting From the ‘Ultimate Propaganda Country’: Hyun-Seung Lee on North Korea’s Oppressive Regime, Its Relationship With China, and Its Nuclear Bluster

“I’ve communicated with some people inside of North Korea, and I heard from them that the recent famine is very similar to [the] 1990s famine. And, as we all know, almost 3 million people died of starvation during that time.”

Hyun-Seung Lee, otherwise known as “Arthur” Lee, is a former member of the North Korean ruling party. He and his family were fiercely loyal to the communist regime. But being on the side of economic reform and having witnessed several brutal internal purges by Kim Jong Un—including that of Kim’s uncle—the family made the decision to defect.

“Many people, especially top people, and even [the] general public in Pyongyang City, don’t know what’s happening outside Pyongyang because of the isolation of the information. The regime structure controls the information distribution,” says Mr. Lee.

We discuss North Korea’s current food crisis, the regime’s nuclear weapons program, the value of free information, and what can be done to bring about change.

“North Korea’s regime keeps saying that once we have nuclear weapons, we’ll live [a] better life … and we will be a strong country in terms of economy and the military side. Now, they have enough nuclear weapons—and the people are still suffering from starvation,” he says.

Despite the political and cultural divisions in the United States, Mr. Lee believes that it is one of the world’s greatest nations in terms of its commitment to democracy and individual freedoms.

“American people should respect this society, because many people in the world think that still, America is the best. The freedom they have cannot be compared to the other nations,” says Mr. Lee.

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