People in North Korea live in fear of what the government can do to them because they know they have no escape, author Michael Malice said on radio Thursday.
North Korea’s isolation from the rest of the world has been decades in the making. It’s easy enough for U.S. media to make fun of North Koreans for being brainwashed by their communist government that teaches them that their leader, Kim Jong Un, is basically a god and that their country is the greatest in the world. But North Koreans shouldn’t be blamed for simply trying to keep themselves and their families alive.
Malice, who wrote about the Kim regime in “Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il,” detailed one of North Korea’s horrifying human rights violations: concentration camps for government prisoners.
“They send your whole family, three generations,” Malice said, explaining that the three-generation “extermination” policy was handed down by Kim Il Sung.
“You have a [work] quota and what’s insane, even by concentration camp standards, if you kill yourself, your family still has to fill your quota,” Malice asserted. “So even death is not an escape.”
Glenn remonstrated journalists who don’t give the full picture when they report on North Korea.
“I think some people tune this out … because they don’t think anybody wants to watch it or pay attention to it,” he said. “That’s your job.”
Kim Jong Un has threatened the U.S. and its allies with nuclear warfare in recent months, and North Korea has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to reports. The North Korean army this week threatened U.S. territory Guam, a location that houses several U.S. strategic bombers.
Bruce Adams-Pool/Getty Images
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Yesterday, on the program, we had Michael Malice. He’s — he is an amazing guy. He actually was born in the Soviet Union. His parents defected in the ’70s. And he got out. And so he has been struggling with things. He’s also Jewish. Struggling with things like modern day concentration camps and the evils of communism and totalitarianism.
Yesterday, we talked to him about Korea, on a high level. He went over to North Korea and really got to know some of the people and the culture. And it’s a terrifying place.
I wanted to invite him back today. Because I wanted to talk to him about life in the former Soviet Union because I don’t think people even understand how free we are today. But I also wanted to talk to him about something that — you know, if the media really cares about the people of North Korea and the people of South Korea, then they would be doing things like what I’m going to ask him to do. Tell us about the concentration camps that are happening currently in North Korea.
Michael, welcome to the program.
MICHAEL: Thanks so much, Glenn. Man, this is going to be a dark day on the Glenn Beck show. Because, I mean, starting with that sad opener, and I’m about to make it even darker. So when you —
GLENN: Hang on just a second. I want you to know, that wasn’t a sad opener. I think that was — there are miracles. People provide miracles.
MICHAEL: Sure. I meant very touching. Very — very touching and intense.
MICHAEL: In the North Korean concentration camps, as we discussed yesterday, they send your whole family, three generations. The leader of North Korea, the founder, Kim Il-sung said, “Class enemies must be exterminated to three generations.”
So when you get sent to the camps, you still have to work. And what is — you have a quota. And what’s insane, even by concentration camp standards, if you kill yourself, your family still has to fill your quota. So even death is not an escape in these camps from the reach of the Kim dynasty. There are children there. You know, men and women.
And you hear these stories of, for example, it is illegal to have relations with the camp guards. So very often, these women are assaulted by the guards who have complete power over them. But then the women are the ones who are punished. There was this one story where a woman was assaulted. They ran her over with a truck. Cut off her legs. And she still had to report to work, pushing herself on a tire. They’re not going to give her a wheelchair.
You have stories where even the camps — they can punish you. So you have men sentenced to work in mines. And they never see sunlight again. So their skin starts to slough off from Vitamin D deficiency.
So this is a level of barbarism that has almost never been seen on earth, and so much of the press is focused on how fat Kim Jong-un is and his rhetoric. And I was so pleased to hear you talk about this yesterday. This is why I wrote Dear Reader so that people can realize that the focus is on 25 million slaves in this country.
And so much of the rhetoric in the press is like, “Well, it’s better that they die than we die.” And it’s like, “Well, how about we figure out a way where no one dies.” That’s my goal.
GLENN: You know, Michael, I don’t know how to solve this. And I think some people tune this out, you know, the press because they don’t think anybody wants to watch it or pay attention to it, which I think is just total laziness. It’s your job to figure out a way to present it in such a way that you can feed it to people.
GLENN: That’s your job. And instead — go ahead.
MICHAEL: That’s why I wrote my book.
MICHAEL: Because it was driving me nuts that you see people completely uninformed on television making these claims. You know, making it like another Iraq or another Nazi Germany. And it’s not. And I said, “I’m going to do something about this once and for all, and I’m going to write a book so people can understand how it got to this place.”
It didn’t happen overnight, Glenn, as you know. This is a long, methodical process, to take a population and reduce them to this state.
GLENN: Michael — Michael Malice is the name of the author, and the book is Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong-il.
How do you — in some ways, in a different way, so hear me out on this question. When we went in and we freed the — the concentration camps of the Germans.
MICHAEL: Right. Right.
GLENN: At the very beginning, our help actually killed them. By feeding, it killed them. It’s — it’s — you know, it was a horrible situation. And so we had to be really, really careful on how to bring people back to health.
GLENN: How do you — for people who have been in a concentration camp for three generations, how do you — how do you bring those people back to any kind of understanding of — of what — of how people should even be treated.
MICHAEL: Well, what’s even more insane is that when North Koreans send people to the camps, sometimes those people are freed. And they return to North Korean society. They have to basically sign a non-disclosure agreement, and they have to try to pick up the pieces of their lives. So there have been instances of this, where people have been returned, but they’re obviously broken human beings. And there’s different types of camps. There’s political camps, and there’s work camps.
Because one of the things these totalitarian nations have the idea — you remember the slogan over Auschwitz was “work make makes you free.” They claim and they believe in North Korea that by working, you will learn to love the leader and you will work your way to kind of enlightenment and understanding the Juche idea, which is the philosophy that guides North Korea.
So it’s — it’s so depraved in so many ways. But thankfully, you know, there are stories of people who have — the book that really moved George W. Bush, it’s called the Aquariums of Pyongyang. And this is the book that really blew the lid off the camp system. Because the people — the family went to live in the camps. And they were freed. And then one of the guys became a refugee. And he told the stories of what’s going on there.
And more and more people are escaping North Korea and telling the stories of what life is like in these camps.
So we’ve — but here’s the scary part: The people in the camps are told, should the Americans invade, we are going to kill you all and burn these camps down. And that’s something that no one takes into account when they’re advocating starting war with North Korea.
GLENN: How many people are estimated to be in these camps?
MICHAEL: One hundred to 200,000. And you can see them for yourself on Google Earth.
GLENN: What do I Google?
MICHAEL: I mean, just go to Google Maps. I forgot — you know, just Google “North Korea concentration camps.” You’ll find it pretty quickly. Maybe not using Google. Maybe another search engine these days.
GLENN: And there’s no doubt that the North Koreans would slaughter them. I mean, that’s what the Germans tried to do. They just didn’t have enough time. You have to erase these crimes against humanity.
MICHAEL: Sure. Of course. Of course. That’s the other point you made yesterday. Everyone talks about, they’re crazy. They’re crazy.
They’re not crazy. They’re evil. They’re smart, and they’re conniving. And exactly like you said, they want to wash their hands out of these crimes against humanity, and that means murdering at a huge scale.
During the ’90s, they refused to allow food into the country. And up to 10 percent of the population starved — 1 to 2 million people — because Kim Jong-un said — Kim Jong-il, the father said, “If we let the UN give them food, they’re not going need to the government.”
And the people who were the most loyal to the regime were the first to starve because they were the ones thinking food’s right around the corner. I believe in the leader.
It’s the shady ones and the cynical ones who were like, I’m going to lie, cheat, and steal to feed my family, who survived.
GLENN: Michael Malice is on with us. MichaelMalice.com. Also, the book is Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Biography of Kim Jong-il. We’ll talk to him a little bit more about North Korea and what to do there.
But also, I want to hear his story, life behind the Iron Curtain. His parents came to the West to escape the Soviet Union, and I want to hear his story on that as well.
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(OUT AT 10:24AM)
GLENN: We’re with Michael Malice from MichaelMalice.com. He is the author of the book Dear Reader. It’s an amazing book about what life is like in North Korea. And it’s a conversation that I think should be had in — on — in all media centers, instead of focusing on, “Did you see what outrageous thing this guy said?” How about we actually have a real adult conversation about what we’re doing?
STU: And we’ve been very adult so far. And it’s understandable with the context of the times. Though, Michael, your book is really entertaining. I don’t want that to be lost in like a really serious topic here because you made the choice to write it as Kim Jong-il.
MICHAEL: Right. It’s in the first person, and I want it to be the kind of book you can read on — in the beach and/or bathroom. Right? And unless you make things fun and entertaining and kind of a page-turner, it’s so dark and so depressing, people shut down. So I thought, “Let’s make this something that people can enjoy.” And one of the reviews I got — it just really hit me — was, “This is the funniest and most terrifying book I’ve ever read.”
GLENN: That’s great. That’s great. Mission accomplished.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I’m sure a lot of your audience have seen the movie The Incredibles. And they talk in that movie about how super villains gloat, and they go on their monologues.
So when you read their literature, they boast about all the things that they do. And there is a sick kind of humor to it, that with a straight face, they’re saying things that — when you stop and think about it, you’re like, this is madness.
GLENN: Like, what?
MICHAEL: Well, for example, Kim Jong-il hates the Mona Lisa, I learned, from reading their propaganda. And I asked my mother, who grew up in the Soviet Union, I’d say, “Why do you think Kim hates the Mona Lisa?” And it took her one second. She goes, “Because she has an ambiguous smile.”
And that’s right. According to North Korea, if art is ambiguous, it’s not art. Art has to have a propaganda message that’s very clear to the masses, or else you can’t consider it art.
And imagine living in a country where every piece of art has to have some political message. And that political message is always the same.
GLENN: I think I do live in that country.
I hate to point that out, but I think we’re there.
Do the people — do the people there actually believe the stuff like, you know, he came down and was born and was delivered by a flock of birds, and he remembers his — the day he was born —
STU: That’s the first line of the book. What is it? I remember the day I was born perfectly.
MICHAEL: I remember the day I was born perfectly.
STU: And it’s not a funny statement where you’re grandiose and stating what Kim Jong-il said. He actually told people that, and they’re really forced to believe it.
GLENN: I heard he does — that he doesn’t go to the bathroom. That people believe that he has no bathroom needs.
MICHAEL: No. See, a lot of times, the West gets it on wrong.
MICHAEL: And let me explain how they view him. What that bathroom line is, what they meant is, he works so hard, he doesn’t even take breaks to go to the bathroom. So that’s not really a big expression.
GLENN: Okay. Okay.
PAT: Does he wear adult diapers?
GLENN: I don’t think we need to go there.
But they look at him, not like a person. They look at him kind of the way we look at Uncle Sam, right? Now, Uncle Sam, we know what he’s like, what he does. If I asked you, well, if it’s Uncle Sam, who are his nieces and nephews? You never stop to think about that, right? It doesn’t make — but he’s an uncle.
So you don’t perceive him as a full human being. However, there’s another story, which was amazing to me, at how they view Kim Jong-il.
There’s a building. There’s an obelisk in North Korea called The Tower of the Juche Idea. It’s got this flame at the very top.
GLENN: Hang on. Hang on. We’ll get the rest of this story, and maybe they should learn Uncle Sam wears stripes, meaning he should be in prison. Maybe they should learn that about their uncle as well. We’ll get the rest of the story and then move to the former Soviet Union. What is — what was life like for Michael’s family?
(OUT AT 10:30AM)
GLENN: So we’re talking to Michael Malice. He’s the author of a book called Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Biography of Kim Jong-il. His family immigrated here from the Soviet Union in the 19702. We’ll get into that in just a second. But finishing up a story on how people view the dear leader in North Korea. And you were talking about an obelisk?
MICHAEL: Yeah, they have this tower. The Tower of the Juche Idea. It’s the stone tower in the capital city of Pyongyang. And when you read their literature and how they discuss how this tower was being built, you have all these architects.
And they came up with all these plans. And Kim Jong-il shows up and says, “Hey, why don’t we make it the tallest tower in the world?”
And their jaws drop. And they realize, “No one had ever considered this possibility before.”
And it’s like, “Wait a minute. You guys are all brainstorming with the dear leader, and no one even threw out, ‘We should make it the biggest one on earth?'”
So according to all their literature, it’s not that he’s a God. He’s literally the only competent person in the whole country. And that’s very pernicious. Because think about it, to this day, if that leader goes away, that means your whole nation goes to pod. So it’s very important — if the one guy who knows how to do anything in the country is keeping things together, you really to make sure he stays in charge.
GLENN: And, Michael, they thought that the grandfather was — was actually working with the people. That he would be — and, you know, in the actual factories. And he wouldn’t stop to eat or go to the bathroom. He would just keep working. And he would turn one factory around.
And then the dear leader would get into another car, and he would race to another factory. And he was working there. I mean, they actually believed that.
MICHAEL: Well, I mean, it’s kind of true. They have something called “field guidance.” And if you look in their newspapers, it’s photographs of Kim Jong-il at one factory one day, and the next day he’s at a school.
So when I’m reading all the propaganda, the stories are mind-numbing. Because it’s — there’s a glass factory. There’s a problem. No one knows what to do. Kim Jong-il shows up. He has an extremely obvious solution. Everyone is shocked and amazed.
The next day, we got a problem at the cornflake factory. Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen there. So, you know, trying to make it into a funny interesting story was a lot of work on my part because — and what’s really dark about their literature is other human beings and other countries don’t exist. So it will say something like, “During the ’70s, the great leader Kim Il-sung went to a European country to attend the funeral of its president.” It doesn’t say which country. It doesn’t say who.
No one else has names in most of these stories, other than Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung. And they started even recently taking a Biblical bent, by having everything the leaders say in boldface, in the same way Jesus’ words are in red in the Bible. And their names are in a bigger font than the rest of the text.
GLENN: Can you tell me the — because there’s a lot of bizarre things that go on with North Korea that I don’t understand.
GLENN: But let me just say two words to you: Dennis Rodman.
MICHAEL: Oh, yes. I mean, Dennis Rodman — the hatred I have for him and what he’s doing — and I don’t care how drunk or stupid he is or crazy. He was on some Sunday morning show, and they asked him, “How are you paling around with someone who has concentration camps?” And he literally said, “Well, we have prisons. What’s the difference?”
GLENN: Oh, my gosh.
MICHAEL: Why don’t you go to those prisons and go to those camps and take a poll and see who wants to switch places, and you’ll have your answer. So to hand wave that away, to me, is unconscionable.
GLENN: What do you think it is? Is it money? And why is Kim Jong-un interested in him? I mean, the rest of the world isn’t interested in him.
MICHAEL: Because how many celebrities are going to be his friend, you know what I mean? First of all, he gets to pretend to his population that everyone on earth thinks I’m awesome. They don’t know who Dennis Rodman is. But he can easily tell them, this is the greatest baseball — basketball player of all time. And he’s an American coming to North Korea to praise the leader. That says something else. So these are two aspects that are used to glorify the regime. Plus, I’m sure it makes Kim Jong-un look a lot smarter by comparison, right? And a lot saner.
GLENN: So you’re doing this, I gather, because of your — you’re kind of picking up the torch where your parents kind of left off in some ways. Your parents and you for a couple of years lived in the former Soviet Union.
GLENN: And you saw persecution. You saw concentration camps. You’re Jewish. You saw history.
GLENN: I imagine that’s where this is coming from.
MICHAEL: Oh, absolutely. Because when I would look at the reports, the news and people treating it like a carnival, and, you know, in high school we ask ourselves, how did we let the Holocaust happen? People wouldn’t even talk about the Gulags from the Soviet Union, which preceded the German concentration camps and were around for a lot longer.
And, again, to focus on Kim Jong-il’s golf score, I said, “I’m going to do something — I’m going to at least try do something once and for all.” Because, yeah, you can write books that are fun or entertaining. But at a certain point, you’re like, I’m put on this earth. Let me see if I can move the needle a little bit.
Because we have it pretty good in this country, Glenn. If I move the needle in America, it’s not going to make much of a difference. But if I’m moving the needle even a little bit in North Korea, this could actually be saving a lot of lives.
GLENN: Tell me about your parent’s experience in the Soviet Union.
MICHAEL: I mean, towards — it was awful. And it’s — there’s so many things that were put into my head that I didn’t realize were put in there and that is different from how Americans were raised.
For example, I had a buddy staying in my house. I went to the gym. And to get into my apartment building, there’s no buzzer. Someone has to let you in.
And I come back, and he said, “Oh, there was someone at the door looking for whatever — Jimmy. And I sent him on his way.”
And I looked at him and I realized, “If I was staying in someone’s house, it wouldn’t even enter my head to answer the door.” Like, that’s not how Russians think.
If there’s a knock on the door, it’s not even an option. It doesn’t — it doesn’t compute. Because there’s just so much lack of trust. And the other thing, the Google doc very much was a Soviet kind of story. Because I was always raised to always be aware of who has power over you and realize they might execute that power for completely absurd reasons. And you have to be conscious of that all the time. The idea that people are going to play fair with you when they’re stronger than you is an absurdity in the Soviet psychology.
GLENN: So, Michael, I went over to Poland. I took my family four years ago. Went to Auschwitz. Wanted my kids to see — I wanted them to see Israel with the first stop being Auschwitz, so they knew why Israel was important in today’s world. They know the history of Israel.
GLENN: But I want them to understand what it’s like when a people don’t have a home to call their own, to be able to defend themselves.
MICHAEL: Right. Right.
GLENN: And so we went over. And I talked to one of the Righteous Among the Nations. A sweet woman. And she was like 16, when she started saving Jews in the ghetto. And I asked her — the last thing I said to her was, “Paulina, you know, if dark times come, I’m looking to water the — the tree of righteousness in myself and my family and others.”
GLENN: How do we do that? And she said something so profound. And as each day goes by and I see things like this Google doc thing, it just becomes stronger and stronger.
She said, “You misunderstand. The righteous didn’t suddenly become righteous. They just refused to go over the cliff with the rest of humanity.”
GLENN: When you see the Google docs and you see people cheering and saying, “We can’t even have a reasonable conversation. We must deny things that we know are true.”
GLENN: And we not only have to not say the things that we know are true, we must join the crowd and say the things we know are not true.
MICHAEL: And if they had their druthers, this guy would not only not be working at Google, he’d never be working again.
MICHAEL: And for what? I mean, you judge people by their actions, not by their intent. And at the very least — first of all, no one is claiming he had bad intentions. That’s what’s even more pernicious. It’s not like he set out to write a document, and I’m going to make people uncomfortable. Let’s suppose it’s all wrong. But this is his scientific view. The kid went to Harvard.
GLENN: And MIT.
MICHAEL: Yeah. This is no dummy. And you have people on Twitter who have never done anything with their lives, feeling free to cast judgment on his understanding of the scientific process and biology and psychology.
So it’s a very, very scary thing. However, I think there’s a good side in the sense that, thanks to social media and alternative forms of media, this is being exposed as soon as it happens. And back in the day, this kid could have been vanished, and you would never hear about him again. Remember, like, Woodrow Wilson put Eugene V. Debs in jail?
GLENN: Yep. Do you hate Woodrow Wilson? Really?
STU: Oh, come on. You can’t kiss up to him by bringing up Woodrow Wilson.
GLENN: Really? Do you hate him as much as I do? Are you like a big-time hater of Woodrow Wilson?
MICHAEL: Oh, he’s the worst. He’s absolutely the worst president of all time. Are you kidding?
GLENN: Oh, I love you.
So I have to tell you this, just off the — I just got an email from somebody who is going to make a cartoon on Woodrow Wilson — the evil of Woodrow Wilson. It will blow you away who is thinking about doing this. And they said, “Will you please be the narrator?” They said, “You know, the people involved completely disagreed, but there is no one that hates Woodrow Wilson more than us, other than you.” And I said, “Oh, my gosh. I will help you in every possible way to expose that monster.”
MICHAEL: Oh, yeah. And it’s no coincidence he was a college university president.
MICHAEL: Because this is where — I was on the show Kennedy on Fox Business. And I made the point: The university’s job is to prepare young minds to be the shock troops for the progressive militia. They are there to program them and have them spread out like a virus and control the media and entertainment. How many — what percent of journalists have gone to universities? And they’re all being programmed by the evangelical left.
PAT: Michael, you just booked yourself a ticket for a third consecutive day on the air.
GLENN: We could be — we could be best friends, Michael. I don’t know what — I don’t know what else you believe.
PAT: Yep. Yep.
GLENN: But you had me at Woodrow Wilson is evil.
JEFFY: We might have you back on Monday.
PAT: Going to be having dinner tomorrow by candlelight.
GLENN: It’s a — it’s a real honor to talk to you, Michael. And thanks for all of the hard work and the hard thinking and heavy lifting on trying to get the words out, in a way that people can consume them. I appreciate —
MICHAEL: Oh, thank you so much, Glenn.
GLENN: Appreciate your work.
MICHAEL: Thank you.
GLENN: God bless. Michael Malice.
The name of the book is Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Biography of Kim Jong-il.
Why did you read that, when it came out? This has been out for like five years. Why were you reading that?
STU: It’s just — I mean, I’m fascinated by dictators.
STU: And, you know, Kim Jong-un. North Korea, in particular, it’s one of the places I desperately in my life want to go some day. Now, I’m — obviously, at this point, you go there and you die. So I really can’t do it.
JEFFY: But you could try.
STU: I would love to see it. It’s an incredible place.
GLENN: He won’t go to Israel. He won’t go to Israel.
PAT: I know. But he’d like to go to North Korea.
STU: Oh, I’m also not going to North Korea because I think it’s dangerous. I mean, I would love to see Israel too, but I think —
GLENN: I’m thinking about going to South Korea. Not North Korea. I’m thinking about going to the DMZ.
GLENN: That would be good, yeah.
STU: I would love to see that too. It’s an incredible place. And that hotel that we talked about yesterday, The Hotel of Doom is, like, legitimately, like, my favorite building and story of all time. Because, I mean, it is the ultimate failure of communism.
GLENN: Tell them real quick.
STU: They tried — when the Seoul, South Korea, Olympics in 1988 were going on, they decided they wanted to show — because they knew the spotlight would be on South Korea. And they wanted to show they were better. So the communists tried — it was Kim Il-sung, tried to build the largest hotel in the world. Got the structure built. It looks like this bizarre pyramid. Almost like a rocket ship. It’s 110 stories. They got through it.
GLENN: Think of it. That’s the World Trade Center, in pyramid form.
STU: In pyramid form. It is huge. And it’s this big concrete structure. They built it to the sky and then ran out of cash. The Soviet Union started to collapse. They ran out of cash. Couldn’t finish it.
So over this city that was supposed to be the best city in the world and how they were dominating in the world and in the economy and everything else, is this giant unfinished disaster that they can’t do anything with. But they also can’t tear it down because it would be completely unsafe to tear it down and also really expensive to tear it down.
So over the years, as they’ve sort of recovered a little bit, they’ve just plastered glass on the side of it, so it looks now kind of like a finished building. But there’s video of it from the time where people — and they would never allow anyone to take pictures of it. They would never allow any people to film it.
A couple people smuggled out video of it. And it’s like, you know, this — this collapsing disaster of a concrete structure. The ugliest building you’ve ever seen.
It was supposed to have ten rotating restaurants on the top of it. I mean, it was an incredible project. But the ultimate testimony of communism’s failure. How this never — this does not work. And I love it.
GLENN: Who was going to pay for the bazillion-dollar rooms and the ten revolving restaurants when no one has any money?
STU: Yeah. I know. It’s not a good idea. That’s how I like it.
JEFFY: Are we going to start maybe a GoFundMe page and have Stu go to North Korea?
GLENN: Oh, I’ll pay for that myself. I will pay for that myself.
JEFFY: I’m willing to start that up.
STU: I don’t understand.