Bob Woodruff's Hard-Hitting Expose of North Korea: New Dictator Likes Michael Jordan

Granted exclusive access to North Korea, Good Morning America's Bob Woodruff on Monday informed viewers that the incoming leader, Kim Jong Un, is "said to be a fan of basketball star Michael Jordan." [MP3 here.]

Standing next to a parade of military might in Pyongyang, Woodruff lauded, "North Korea may well be the world's most isolated country, a state with few allies, but they do know how to put on a show." At no point in the piece did the ABC journalist actually use the word dictator. Instead, he referred to Kim Jong Un as "the handpicked successor to the family dynasty."

Regarding the parade witnessed by Kim Jong Il, Woodruff hyped it as "a crisply choreographed mix of pageantry and fire power, crowds primed with anticipation."

On October 9, 2006, ABC's Diane Sawyer visited North Korea and filed an even more fawning profile of the dictitorial country:

Diane Sawyer: "It is a world away from the unruly individualism of any American school."

Class of teens in uniforms: "Good morning."

Sawyer to class: "Good morning."

Sawyer voiceover: "Ask them about their country, and they can’t say enough."

North Korean girl, in English: "We are the happiest children in the world."

Sawyer to class: "What do you know about America?"

Sawyer voiceover: "We show them an American magazine. They tell us, they know nothing about American movies, American movie stars....and then, it becomes clear that they have seen some movies from a strange place...."

Sawyer to class: "You know The Sound of Music?"

Voices: "Yes."

Sawyer, singing with the class: "Do, a deer, a female deer. Re, a drop of golden sun...."

Charles Gibson: "A fascinating glimpse of North Korea."

— Sawyer reporting from North Korea for ABC’s World News With Charles Gibson, October 19, 2006.

A transcript of the October 11, 2010 segment, which aired at 8:02, follows:

JUJU CHANG: Now, to North Korea. The normally secretive and isolated nation has just staged one of the largest celebrations in the world to publicly display the mysterious son who is set to take over the county. Our Bob Woodruff is there for us this morning. Good morning, Bob.

BOB WOODRUFF: Good morning, Juju. This has been three days of a series of remarkable events and performances. In fact, one of them was the biggest one they've ever had here in North Korean history. [Woodruff is next to marching North Koreans.] North Korea may well be the world's most isolated country, a state with few allies, but they do know how to put on a show. I've been to this square before many times. But I've never been able to get this close to the troops. A crisply choreographed mix of pageantry and fire power. Crowds primed with anticipation.

(Whispering): Now at that music's stopped which was really loud, now it's completely silent. He's right up there, Kim Jong-Il and his son Kim Jong Un are going to come out and watch. Kim Jong-Il, looking frail, appeared first. Then just a few feet away, his son, Kim Jong Un, the handpicked successor to the family dynasty. In his late '20s, Kim Jong, Un was, until now, an obscurity. The youngest of Kim's three boys, he's Swiss educated and said to be a fan of basketball star Michael Jordan. The two older brothers were passed over, a choice made easier when the eldest son was caught with a false passport trying to get to Disneyland in Tokyo.

The middle son, Kim Jong Chol has not made much of an impression. On the street here, they know very little about Kim Jong-Un. [Talking to a North Korean woman.] She says she doesn't even know his age. And little kids I talked to know nothing about their new possible leader either. They were much more interested in seeing themselves on my video camera. Yet these children will most likely be led by the man they now call the young general. Bob Woodruff, ABC news, Pyongyang, North Korea.

CHANG: A rare glimpse inside North Korea.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org