The United States. Mentioning the U.S. can result in a long lecture. There is no such thing as U.S. relations, only “hostile U.S. policy.” Any hardship faced by North Korea is the fault of the U.S. and its “puppet” South Korea.
North Korea’s Nukes. Asked his thoughts on ties, Om Myong Chin, a 57-year-old who works at a battery factory, said: “If the U.S. government stops its hostile policy against our country, with time relations might improve.” The minders were quick to agree.
Difficult Questions. A minder’s frequent answer to a question is: “That is a difficult question.” Difficult questions include: “Why am I not allowed to go out of the hotel by myself?” Answer: “People’s bad emotions about the U.S. are running high and I might not be able to protect you.” Questions that might suggest criticism of the leaders are often not translated or acknowledged.
When a Minder is Not a Minder. “The minder’s job is to hide the embarrassing inner side of North Korean society from the eyes of outsiders,” said Ahn Chan Il, a North Korean defector. Minders don’t want to be called minders. “I am not minding you,” said one. “We are guiding you. Please call me your guide.”