Blitzer Dispatch:  Richardson says it's a 'tinderbox'
December 17th, 2010
09:57 PM ET
11 years ago

Blitzer Dispatch: Richardson says it's a 'tinderbox'

Pyongyang, North Korea (CNN) - It's Saturday morning in Pyongyang and we're getting ready for another intense day. The situation here is very fluid right now and a lot of nerves are being frayed because of the tensions between North and South Korea. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is getting ready for important talks in the next few hours with Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, the man who invited him to Pyongyang.

Richardson is urging restraint everywhere he goes. He's really worried that this situation is, in his words, a "tinderbox" where one miscalculation could lead to all-out war. He says he's never seen the situation so tense in all his visits to North Korea over the years; he agrees it's the most serious crisis since the 1953 Armistice which ended the Korean War.

In my conversations with North Korean officials, they insist it's all the fault of South Korea and the U.S. They say they are being provoked and won't stand for it. Clearly though, they are anxious to send a message to the United States through Richardson and presumably through me and CNN as well.

On Friday, Richardson met with Ri Young Ho, the vice foreign minister for US affairs, and they talked about what can be done to ease the crisis. One event that's been added to Richardson's schedule Sunday is a meeting with top North Korean military officials, which is an important development.

On a personal level, all the North Koreans have treated me and my CNN photojournalist Miguel Castro with the utmost courtesy and respect. Still, we are restricted on where we can go, we don't have access to the internet or cell phones. The accommodations are very clean and nice, and the food is delicious, I can't complain about that. It is bitter cold outside, lots of snow on the ground, reminds me of my hometown of Buffalo, New York. North Koreans seem very energetic, you see people with shovels cleaning up the sidewalks, the streets, it's a massive operation but they're doing it all by hand.

That's all from Pyongyang for now. We'll see what happens in this big meeting over the next few hours with Kim Gye Gwan, who's been a major player in past negotiations with U.S. delegations.

Filed under: Bill Richardson • North Korea • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Sherri W.W.

    First of all~thanks to Gov.Richardson~and Wolf B.~for going there and trying to calm things down! We certinly do NOT want another war to break out there!~I hate to harp on a subject but,again,this is WHY we want and need CALM people like the President,AND some Long Time political people in Wash.D.C.!~All this"change to common folk"trying to run Govt.right now,is actually too scary to think about~for us~for our children!The folks who say"we dont want this one,or that one,with THEIR hand "on the Button"~well,those folks are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!~I sleep pretty well knowing that its Pres.Obama with HIS hand"on the Button".so to speak!~I do NOT want to lay awake nights wondering if some fool or hothead is going to start something NONE OF US are prepared to deal with!~People who try to make the President look bad to other countries,and try to obstruct him on EVERYTHING~those people are playing with Fire WAY over ALL our heads! Lets get BEHIND our President for a change,AND keep us all much safer and our lives more secure!

    December 17, 2010 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  2. The Great Dictator

    I can't believe that someone with the political reputation that Richardson has is even in North Korea, he's seen as a corrupt politician in New Mexico, that's why Obama refused him a cabinet position....this guy is a joke and it's ashamed that he's representing good Americans. Let's be done with the puppet dictator in North Korea and let South Korea deflate this crumbling regime and be done with it....hit them fast and hard and let's move on. Wolf thinks Pyongyang reminds him of Buffalo, NY....another strange character. This whole team seems like the cast of "Misfit Toys"

    December 17, 2010 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  3. ehwilson429

    Blitzer wearing jeans. Is that old goofball planning on doing some field work in Korea?
    No maybe he can carry east coast snob impersonating a Mexican Richardson's bags.

    December 18, 2010 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  4. Marichuy

    Ask them when we can come as tourists. I would like to visit that nice part of the world.

    December 18, 2010 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  5. Tanbiker2

    Let's hope Wof Blitzer get stuck inside North Korea when Ambassador Richardson leaves, and that he remains there when war breaks out. We can be sure the North Koreans have some especially fine prisons and tortures worked out in advance for jews like Blitzer.

    December 18, 2010 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  6. J smart

    It is very hard to read the font on a grey background, there not enough contrast.

    December 18, 2010 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  7. fanta

    Bill's a good man I lived many years in NM and he's a fine and fair goodwill Ambassador...if anyone can smooth things over it's Richardson...let's all hope in this Season that he will pulln it off and peace will again prevail...war serves NO good purpose!

    December 18, 2010 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  8. Brian Moore

    This article was very uninformative. Besides the conditions of the accommodations and hard work of the North Koreans shoveling snow, what is really going on? We are on the brink of war and the situation is very dangerous. Can we get some better reporting on what North Korea's intentions are? To whom is Gov. Bill Richardson urging restraint? What are they saying? I fear for the future of the Korean peninsula. My biggest concern is North Korea is using your visit as a formality to say they warned the US before attacking.

    December 18, 2010 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  9. Steve Johnson

    How old is this journalist?

    The biggest crisis since the armistice? Sure, peace breaking out sure is a crisis! Nothing happening that will get you ratings!
    The North Koreans sure are energetic... Right, the select few elite who aren't starving. He is aware that he is only seeing that the NK government wants him to see. which the other 98% of the country is starving and freezing. If he wants to see energetic, why not come visit South Korea!

    December 18, 2010 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  10. eric g

    Is Wolf serious? Comments about delicious food and energetic people without more context makes him a propaganda piece for North Korea. Anyone hear of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Nazi presentation of how well the Jews there were treated? Please CNN, if you are reporting from NK, at least give more detail to the concentration camps there and the sytematic killing of hundreds of thousands. People – go rent the documentary "Kimjonilia" with vivid accounts from those who escaped this living hell.

    December 18, 2010 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  11. joe smith

    how does a former aipac lobbyst turned news propaganist end up in nk, giving the American people some canned immage of a world we all know is as extreme as it gets..maybe Israel has an interest here, ya suppose..

    December 18, 2010 05:31 am at 5:31 am |