Cablegate Chronicles: The Quick Trip from Beijing to Pyongyang

This is an installment from our on-going series on the adventures of American diplomats and the people they monitor. The red button below will take you to another random episode.

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A UN official makes a visit to North Korea.


FROM: LONDON
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: JUNE 15, 2005
CLASSIFICATION: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
SEE FULL CABLE


Mitropoulos said he had few expectations for the North, but was surprised further by what he found, beginning with the flight from Beijing on a dilapidated Russia-made passenger jet. He the flight was about 80% full, with over half the passengers Iranian. He noted, "How do they expect the West to believe their nuclear program is not a threat when flights to the country are full of Iranians?" He was housed in a huge eight bedroom guesthouse with no other guests, and enjoyed a modern TV which included 114 channel, only one of which worked - the government's channel. When he got off the plane, he was greeted by a party including officials bearing flowers that he "might want to dedicate" to the Great Leader. Feeling he had no choice without creating an incident upon arrival, Mitropoulos laid a wreath at a statue of Kim Il Sung while TV cameras whirred. He was then asked if he had brought any gifts for the Great Leader, even though his staff had made it clear that he would not be bringing gifts on the trip. When he visited port facilities, he felt that there had been no special preparation for his visit, and the Port Security Manager was unavailable to escort him on the tour of the Port's security system.

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