Meet North Korea’s Former Elite Journalist

Kim Gil-sun is an ex-journalist from Pyongyang. She worked for 17 years at the publishing arm of the Academy of National Defense Science, which is in charge of its missile program.

For nearly two decades before defecting in the late 1990s, Kim had close contact with the confidential sectors within the Pyongyang elite. She claims to have received personal gifts from then-leader Kim Jong-il, and was eventually ousted from her privileged position for having a private conversation about the leader’s extramarital relationships.

One week remains before the summit between the two Korean heads of state: You see a lot of headlines about the summit, but its exact outcomes are hard to predict. Kim isn’t particularly hopeful; the North Korea she remembers penalized journalists for writing negatively about politically significant flowers.

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