April 5th, 2009
12:36 PM ET
14 years ago

Talking to Kim Jong Il

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/05/art.sherman.cnn.jpg caption="Former Ambassador Wendy Sherman has engaged in direct talks with King Jong Il."](CNN) - What is North Korean leader Kim Jong Il - among the most reclusive of all world leaders - really like?

"He is actually fairly straightforward," said former Ambassador Wendy Sherman who served as former President Bill Clinton's policy advisor on North Korea.

But Sherman, one of a handful of American diplomats who hve engaged in direct talks with the North Korean leader, also said Kim Jong-Il reveals very little about himself.

Related: World reacts to North Korean rocket launch

"He doesn't much like to talk about his family and his personal circumstances, but he really is the leader of his universe," she said in an interview with CNN's John King on State of The Union.

"He doesn't have to worry about the global economic crisis. He doesn't have to worry about the war in Afghanistan or building down in Iraq," she added. "He doesn't have to worry about health care for his country. He only has worry about one thing, and that's keeping his power."

Filed under: North Korea • State of the Union
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. JonDie

    "He doesn't much like to talk about his family and his personal circumstances..."

    Why would he? He's not subject to the MEDIA CIRCUS tail that wags the dog of American politics. But perhaps Obama will get to look him face to face and then MEDIA will get to report that Obama looked into Kim Il Jung's soul...like that means something.

    April 5, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. Thomas Jefferson

    Is it 2012 yet?

    April 5, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. john choi

    N.Korea's communist regime violated the international law since
    June 25, 1950, by backing Red China and Russia. Unless the
    communists disappear, Red China, Russia, and the N.Korea will
    violate the international law over and over again in the future.
    The fundamental problems are the support of China and Russia for
    N.Korea, where there is no human right, no foods to feed over
    22,000,000 people. In conclusion, Kim Jung Il should be removed
    by force. He and his father ran away to China in the fall of 1950 when
    UN force advanced to stop the N.Korean invaders.

    April 5, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. FreeNLovIT

    I like to ask God what is the purpose of NKorea. I understand the purpose of China in the end days, but what is the purpose of NKorea? What purpose does NKorea serve to starve millions? Where is Christianity in all of this? How does NKorea fit into the picture. How terrible to be suffering for 40 to 50 years under ruthless dictators!! It just NEVER stops. Russia has come to its senses. Germany has come to its senses, but NKorea STAYED a PSYCHO path, suppressing its very own people. Pray for NKorea.

    April 5, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. No Hillary = No Obama

    It's time to do a psychological profile on this guy and then plan a strategy. Is this country ever going to get psychologically-minded?

    April 5, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  6. Lady K

    Kim Jong Il is a difficult character. North Korea is a vacant country; There's nothing there! No library books, no electricity, no home-grown food. They import a lot of staple foods from South Korea ironically. All that's there is what Kim Jong Il says is there.

    April 5, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  7. SVS DC

    North Korea is impossible for Americans to understand. It is not like most other places in the world, the people there are fed lies and propoganda by a man whom they literally revere as a diety. It would be fruitless for Obama or any other American who would try and hold talks with Kim Jong Il because state run news agencies would only report that "the American President came and knelt before the Dear Leader and kissed his feet." I promise that nothing productive would happen because Kim Jong Il knows that at the end of the day the "international community" will do nothing to stop him and sadly, he is correct.

    April 6, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |