Richard Engel

  • Aired:  04/18/13
  •  | Views: 5,777

NBC's chief foreign correspondent talks about visiting South Korea, traveling back in time in North Korea, and being taken hostage in Syria. (5:57)

THIS.

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE CHIEF

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC

NEWS UNTIL JIMMY FALLON TAKES

OVER IN 2014.

PLEASE WELCOME RICHARD ENGEL!

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

A IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT.

YOU ARE THE PEABODY AND EMMY

AWARD-WINNING CHIEF FOREIGN

CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS.

ALSO OF AUTHOR OF TWO BOOKS AND

A RECENT ARTICLE CALLED "THE

HOSTAGE" IN "VANITY FAIR"

MAGAZINE, TALKING ABOUT WHEN YOU

WERE TAKEN HOSPITAL IN SYRIA.

WHERE HAVE YOU JUST COME BACK

FROM?

>> SOUTH KOREA.

I JUST GOT OFF THE PLANE TODAY.

>> Stephen: REALLY?

HOW DO THEY SEE THE TENSION IN

THE KOREAN PENINSULA?

OVER HERE WE'RE LOOKING AT THAT

KIM-- KIM JUNGUN AS LIKE THE

CRAZY COUSIN WHO TALKS, YOU

KNOW, WHEN HE COMES TO

THANKSGIVING DINNER AND SAYS,

I'VE GOT NUCLEAR WEAPONS."

>> I HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS.

>> Stephen: ARE THEY SCARED

OVER THERE?

>> ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS, NOT AT

ALL.

YOU SEE PEOPLE WHO ARE VERY

CASUAL.

THEY ARE GOING ABOUT THEIR

BUSINESS.

NOTHING WAS CLOSED.

CHILDREN WERE GOING TO SCHOOL.

OVER THE LONG TERM, THEY'RE VERY

WORRIED.

OVER THE LONG TERM THIS IS THE

BIGGEST STRATEGIC THREAT SOUTH

KOREA FACES.

>> Stephen: THIS GUY COULD

ACTUALLY PUSH THE BUTTON.

>> YEAH.

THERE ARE NEARLY 30,000 AMERICAN

TROOPS IN THAT COUNTRY NOT FOR

NO REASON.

THEY'RE THERE BECAUSE THE NORTH

IS CONSIDERED A THREAT.

>> Stephen: HAVE YOU BEEN TO

NORTH KOREA?

>> I HAVE.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR I WAS IN

NORTH KOREA.

>> Stephen: IS IT LOVELY?

WHAT IS--

( LAUGHTER )

IT'S SPRINGTIME.

WHAT'S IT LIKE?

>> IT'S LIKE GOING BACK THERE

TIME.

YOU'RE GOING BACK TO THE 40s.

YOU'RE GOING BACK TO WHAT FEELS

LIKE EASTERN EUROPE OR THE

SOVIET UNION IN THE DAYS OF

STALIN.

THAT'S WHAT IT FEELS LIKE.

>> Stephen: DO THEY HATE US?

DO THEY REALLY HATE US, LIKE THE

PEOPLE?

>> NO, THE PEOPLE-- IT'S VERY

DIFFICULT TO COMMUNICATE WITH

PEOPLE DIRECTLY, BUT I FOUND

ABSOLUTELY NO HOSTILITY.

>> Stephen: DO YOU SPEAK

KOREAN?

>> I DON'T SPEAK KOREAN.

>> Stephen: THAT COULD BE ONE

THE REASONS WHY.

( LAUGHTER ).

>> THAT WASN'T THE ONLY REASON.

IT WAS DIFFICULT TO COMMUNICATE

WITH THEM BECAUSE YOU DON'T GET

TIME ALONE WITH THEM.

EVERY TIME YOU GO SOMEWHERE

YOU'RE WITH A MINDER.

WHEN WE'RE OUT ON THE STREET, IF

YOU WANT TO GO TO FIND A PUBLIC

BATHROOM, THE MINDER WILL WALK

YOU, STAND OUTSIDE THE DOOR,

WAIT FOR YOU UNTIL YOU'RE DONE

AND TAKE YOU BACK.

>> Stephen: THAT'S BOTH

POLITE AND CREEPY AT THE SAME

TIME.

>> A LITTLE BIT OF BOTH.

>> Stephen: FOUR MONTHS AGO

YOU WERE KIDNAPPED IN SYRIA?

>> IN DECEMBER.

>> Stephen: HOW DID YOU GET

AWAY AND WHO KIDNAPPED YOU?

>> WE WERE EXWOOPPED BY A GROUP

CALLED THE SHABIA, A

PROGOVERNMENT MILITIA.

>> Stephen: PRO-ASSAD.

>> PRO-ASSAD.

AND THEY WERE ORGANIZED.

THEY WERE VERY TRAINED.

THEY WERE WAITING FOR US BY THE

SIDE OF THE ROAD.

AS SOON AS THEY SURROUNDED OUR

VEHICLE THEY LOADED US UP INTO A

TRUCK, A CONTAINER TRUCK, AND

YOU KNEW THEY WERE

PROFESSIONALS.

THEY HAD THEIR WEAPONS READY.

THEY HAD FLASH.

AS SOON AS THEY CLOSED THE

CONTAINER DOOR IT WENT DARK.

>> Stephen: DID THEY KNOW WHO

YOU WERE OR WERE YOU JUST

WESTERNERS?

>> WE WERE JUST WESTERNERS AND

THEY WERE WITH A REBEL COMMANDER

WE'RE WITH.

THEY WERE ORGANIZED.

AND WE WERE THERE FOR FIVE DAYS,

AND THEN ON THE-- ON THE THE

FIFTH NIGHT, WE WERE FREED BY A

BUNCH OF REBELS WHO WERE LOOKING

FOR US, AND LOOKING FOR THIS

REBEL COMMANDER WHO WAS ALSO

TAKEN.

AND THERE WAS A GUNFIGHT, AND

THEY WERE MIEWG US, THE SHABIHA,

TO YET ANOTHER OF THEIR SAFE

LOCATIONS, AND THEY HIT A

CHECKPOINT THEY WEREN'T

ANTICIPATING, EXCHANGE OF FIRE.

TWO OF THE KIDNAPPERS WERE

KILLED, AND WE GOT OUT OF THE

CAR AT THAT STAGE AND GOT TAKEN

AWAY.

>> Stephen: ARE YOU GOING TO

GO BACK?

( LAUGHTER )

>> I PROBABLY WILL.

I WILL, EVENTUALLY.

>> Stephen: OKAY--

>> IT IS A MAJOR STORY.

>> Stephen: WHY, WHY WOULD--

LISTEN, I UNDERSTAND, THIS IS

YOUR JOB AND EVERYTHING.

BUT WHY ANY TO SUCH DANGEROUS

PLACES, OTHER THAN FOR THE-- FOR

THE AIR MILES OR SOMETHING LIKE

THAT.

>> IT'S NOT FOR THE AIR MILES.

RIGHT NOW SYRIA IS IMPLODING AND

IS IN A STATE OF COLLAPSE.

AND THAT IS IMPACTING THE ENTIRE

REGION.

>> Stephen: SHOULD THE UNITED

STATES GET MORE INVOLVED WITH

SYRIA?

>> I DON'T THINK ANYBODY THINGS

GETTING MORE INVOLVED MILITARILY

IS A GOOD IDEA.

I HAVE SPOKEN TO POLITICIANS AND

THE REBELS.

THEY DON'T WANT U.S. TROOPS TO

BE INVOLVE GLD THAT'S SO GREAT.

BECAUSE I'M READY TO PUSH THE

FORMAT BUTTON ON MEMORIZING THE

AKU-B-ABADS IN MY HEAD.

I CAN'T REMEMBER ANY MORE NAMES

I CAN'T PRONOUNCE.

>> A LOT OF EUROPEAN STATES, AND

CERTAINLY THE SYRIAN PEOPLE WHO

AREN'T ALIGNED WITH THE

GOVERNMENT WANT TO SEE MORE

PRESSURE PUT ON MOSCOW, AND THEY

WANT MORE OF AN ABILITY FOR THE

REBELS TO DEFEND THEMSELVES.

BECAUSE RIGHT NOW, THERE IS

SOMETHING OF A VETO IN PLACE BY

U.S. AND OTHER ALLIES TO PREVENT

A LOT OF WEAPONS THERE GETTING

IN THERE WITH THE IDEA THAT THAT

WOULD MAKE IT WORSE, BUT IT'S

HARD FOR IT TO GET MUCH WORSE.

>> Stephen: WHEN DO YOU GO

BACK?

>> I JUST GOT HERE!

YOU'RE SENDING ME OUT AGAIN!

I JUST GOT HERE.

>> Stephen: HOW LONG ARE YOU

GOING TO SPEND IN THE UNITED

STATES?

>> NOT VERY LONG.

>> Stephen: YOU'RE GOING TO

GO BACK OVERSEAS SOON?

>> VERY SOON.

>> Stephen: THIS IS CALLED

THE BUCKET.

YOU PUT ON THE BUCKET, AND JUST

SEND THE OTHER SIDE BACK TO

SYRIA.

THINK ABOUT IT?

>> IT WOULD HAVE MADE THE ESCAPE

A LOT EASIER.

YOU JUST TURN IT OFF.

>> Stephen: AND YOU'RE GONE.

RICHARD ENGEL, THANK YOU SO MUCH

FOR JOINING ME.

STAY SAFE.

FROM NBC NEWS, RICHARD ENGEL.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

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