North Korea Scoop Leads Washington Post Reporters to Times Square

Another great bit of DPRK reporting by Anna Fifield.

Under the headline “The Secret Life of Kim Jong Un’s Aunt, Who Has Lived in the U.S. Since 1998,” Washington Post Tokyo bureau chief Anna Fifield has this morning shared a truly remarkable exclusive.

Together with newspaper colleague Yoonjung Seo, she recently journeyed to New York and environs to spend 20 weekend hours with the aunt and uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The married couple, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1998 and live several hours from New York City, have chosen to finally break the seal of their stateside anonymity. From Fifield’s piece:

Wandering through Times Square, past the Naked Cowboy and the Elmos and the ticket touts, she could be any immigrant trying to live the American Dream…

“My friends here tell me I’m so lucky, that I have everything,” Ko Yong Suk, as she was known when she was part of North Korea’s royal family, told the Post on a recent weekend. “My kids went to great schools and they’re successful, and I have my husband, who can fix anything. There’s nothing we can envy.”

Her husband, previously known as Ri Gang, chimes in, laughing: “I think we have achieved the American Dream.”

For the article, the Post agreed not to publish the names Ko and Ri have adopted in the U.S. or reveal the town where they live (Fifield and Seo spent some time there as well, where the couple operate a dry cleaning business). Looking ahead, Ri hopes to perhaps one day help broker a better relationship between the U.S. and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). As he told the journalists: “If Kim Jong-un is how I remembered he used to be, I would be able to meet him and talk to him.”

In an accompanying video, Fifield explains how she and Seo made contact with the couple. And how odd it was to watch, with them, a Korean TV news report about their nephew commanding the launch of a “submarine ballistic missile.”