Global Scan

A teenage defector from North Korea grew up believing Kim Jong-il could read her mind

kim jong-il.jpg

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il waves upon his visit to the Songjin Steel Complex in North Korea, in this undated picture released by North Korea's official news agency KCNA on April 25, 2011.

Credit:

KCNA/Reuters

Yeonmi Park lived in North Korea for most of her childhood, believing sincerely that Kim Jong-Il, the country's former "dear leader," was a god who would know the instant she had any unauthorized thoughts.

“I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear. A classmate's mother was punished in a public execution that I was made to attend. I had no choice — there were spies in the neighbourhood.” Park and her parents escaped North Korea for China five years ago and made their way to South Korea. She wrote a moving essay for Australia’s SBS describing how her psychological escape from the dear leader’s world took far longer than crossing the border. 

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Did the DEA promise a senior cartel lieutenant a get-out-of-jail-free pass?

The New Yorker explores the murky case surrounding senior Mexican drug figure Vicente Zambada-Niebal, who alleged that the DEA offered him immunity from prosecution. Earlier this week, it emerged that, more than a year ago, Zambada-Niebal pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and agreed to serve at least 10 years in jail, while cooperating with federal officials. The indictment had been sealed all this time — presumably to keep from tipping off other members of his Sinaloa cartel.

But what's perhaps more interesting about his plea deal is that he agreed to forfeit more than $1 billion in assets — suggesting that even lieutenants in the Sinaloa cartel are made extremely wealthy from the group's drug distribution activities.

With immigration reform stalled, activists decide to stall traffic in San Francisco

Gabriela García came to the US as a child in 1994, an undocumented immigrant tagging along as her mother sought better opportunity. Because of the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, she is able to stay in this country, but her mom must remain in the shadows. Now, García is trying to change that.

PRI's The World followed García as she prepared for and attended an act of civil disobedience in San Francisco, where immigrants and immigrant-rights activists jammed a major city street in an effort to unjam immigration reform. She was arrested, but she's determined to keep fighting until immigration reform is a reality.

The key to deprogramming terrorists is to understand them

Saudi Arabia has a history of producing al-Qaeda’s leaders and its foot soldiers. But it also has a surprisingly successful record of persuading extremists to take a less destructive path.

The Kingdom’s "deradicalization" program reportedly has a success rate of more than 85 percent. The Foreign Policy Reseach Institute interviews one of the psychologists involved in the program. The psychologist says one of the program's secrets is that it deals with patient's underlying personal problems — the situations that led them to radicalize in the first place.

In this case, it took 67 years to get home again

Sonia Narang of PRI's The World is reporting from Pakistan for the next few weeks as part of a fellowship with the East-West Center. And while her reporting will be interesting and noteworthy in its own right, this trip has an immense personal dimension for her.

Narang's family was forced to flee Pakistan when India was partitioned at the end of British rule, with India becoming the homeland for most Hindus and Pakistan becoming mostly Muslim. More than 10 million people were displaced, and now Narang is the first member of her extended family to visit the country's former homeland. Check out some of the photos she's taken from her time in Pakistan so far.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Dry conditions in South America look set to lead a large Brazilian city to implement mandatory water-rationing regulations. According to the Marco Polo news agency, Sao Paulo's main reservoir is at less than 13 percent of capacity right now. The municipal water utility said it was using alternate water sources, but was quickly exhausting its options. Officials worry water rationing could harm the city — and the country's — economic vitality. 

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