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Smuggled N. Korean videotape targets regime

NBC's Lisa Myers reports on an amateur videotape smuggled out of North Korea that incites rebellion against the regime of Kim Jong Il.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 — The camerawork is shaky and amateurish. But along with shots of people and architecture in North Korea, are scenes of posters and banners hung in public places with startling handwritten messages — denouncing North Korea's brutal dictator, Kim Jong Il.

One banner reads: "People, all of you should rise and kick the dictator regime out." And another: "How long can we all starve and die?"

The video — smuggled out of North Korea earlier this year and obtained by NBC News — also includes a verbal appeal.

"The people are starving to death under Kim Jong Il's dictatorship and its policies," says the narrator on the video. "Our country is unstable — at the verge of explosion."

NBC News showed the video to two North Korean defectors and a human rights activist, who believe it is authentic.

"It shows the desperation of the North Korean people to try to get the outside world to pay attention," says Suzanne Scholte, a human rights activist.

A35-year-old man claims he shot the video, then escaped to China. NBC News met him at a hotel in another Asian country. He would only give us his alias and asked that we not reveal his face. He says he used to be a soldier in the North Korean Army.

"After I was released from the Army, I saw the reality of the society," says the man. "The people were starving to death."

Defectors and human rights monitors report that conditions inside North Korea remain horrendous — widespread starvation, torture of political prisoners, entire families imprisoned because the mother complained she didn't have enough food for her children.

In March 2005, another video surfaced — allegedly showing a public execution.

"The person who was executed was helping North Korean defectors who went out to look for food," says Soon Ok Lee, himself a North Korean defector.

The 35-year-old who allegedly taped this new video could have been executed as well, but he says it was worth the risk.

"This makes me feel good," he says. "I know that Kim Jung Il will see it, and the world will see it." 

It's a visible but lonely expression of dissent against what many consider the world's most brutal regime.

Lisa Myers is NBC's Senior Investigative Correspondent.