OTR Interviews

'On the Record' Broadcasts Live from North Korea for First Time, With Rare Look as Food Crisis Looms

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Hello. Welcome to Pyongyang, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, known most familiarly to the American audience as North Korea. We are broadcasting live. It is about 11:32 a.m. in North Korea now, and it is a very exciting time for "On the Record" because this is the first time we are broadcasting live.

We've been to this country on multiple occasions. This is our third trip. But this trip is different from all the other trips we've taken. Not only are we broadcasting live, but we've gained more access than we've ever had before for "On the Record."

We've learned many new things, but what we are investigating on the ground is something that is feared is going to happen in this country, and that is a huge food shortage. We are joined by Reverend Franklin Graham, who is, of course, the reason why we are in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. This is the third time we've joined him here. Good morning, reverend.

REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT AND CEO, SAMARITAN'S PURSE: Thank you Greta, great to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Before we talk about our trip here, you got the phone call that no child wants to receive that terrifying call from the states about your father. How is your father?

GRAHAM: He was hospitalized a few days ago for what they believe to be pneumonia. He is in the hospital. And I'm pleased to say he's doing well tonight.

VAN SUSTEREN: You are monitoring it closely in a difficult way to communicate.

GRAHAM: We've been able to call several times a day. Everything is fine on the home front. People even here in this country have heard about it and have expressed their concern. I know many at home are praying. We are grateful for their prayers.

VAN SUSTEREN: Turning the corner, why are you here now?

GRAHAM: Greta, There is a food shortage. Samaritan's Purse has been providing plastic for the seedbeds for their rice production this year. They had a terrible flood last year in August. Samaritan's Purse provided aircraft that came, a 747 with emergency shelter equipment on it. We provided that.

But they lost their entire rice crop. Then they planted their winter barley and wheat, which is supposed to be harvested now. Extremely cold winter. That was destroyed. Now they are planting their rice crop again. But it is going to be not until late September, October before that crop comes in.

They are running out of food starting next month, and that's what is the crisis is going to be about six million people affected with this food shortage. They've asked the U.S. government for 33500,000 metric tons of food. All of the requirements have been met. The U.S. government has not made a decision. It takes three months, they start running out of food next month.

VAN SUSTEREN: We drove about six to eight hours out of Pyongyang all the way up to the Yalu River to see some of these cooperative farms.

GRAHAM: We did. We were able to not only see the farms, we were able to see the farmers, watch them and talk to them about the problems they face. It is a crisis. Famine moves slowly. You don't see it immediately. Right now the calorie intake you need about 2,000, 1,800 calories just to maintain muscle and body weight. Right now for about six million people that calorie intake is under 1,000 calories right now. That is -- it is going to have brain damage for young children. It is going to stunt the growth in people. We have to get the food.

VAN SUSTEREN: This involves the people here in this country, not the government. The United States is making a decision whether or not to send food.

GRAHAM: The request has been made six months ago, and still no decision. The United States government hasn't decided yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the interesting things we did we spoke with the vice foreign minister, and what he said was, these are his words, that "The American people think that people in North Korea are from another planet."

GRAHAM: That's true. In our country we don't know enough about North Korea. I've encouraged the North Korean government to allow more access and to see North Korea and report on the people and show life in North Korea.

It is important that people understand these are people. They have families, children, loved ones. They want their children to go to school, to have an education, a good job. They want to have peace. Yet, we know so little about them. As a result, in America we seem to be afraid, because we see this as a hermit country because we don't know much about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: We are going to take a quick break. When we come back, we traveled all the up to the Yalu River, which is the North Korea border with China. And we went to a cooperative farm and we spoke to the chairman of the farm and someone who work there is. We'll show you our interview. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to our live broadcast from DPRK. The first time "On the Record" has broadcast live from North Korea, although this is our third trip.

And earlier this week we've got more access than we've ever gotten before in any of our trips here. We drove eight hours north to the Chinese border, accompanied by all times by members of the government. One of the places we did stop was a cooperative farm. We spoke with the chairman as well as a worker. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: We are one of the cooperative farms where Samaritan's Purse has supplied plastic to put over crops to aid in accelerating and making it a better crop. This is for the September, October, November harvest. You can see the Samaritan's Purse name on the plastic.

I should add, Franklin Graham asked to go to one of the cooperatives to see how the plastic is being used. The DPRK, they selected which cooperative we went to. They selected someone to speak with us. You can see, if you swing the camera around you can see how many people have come with us. We have lots of guides and assistants.

But the country has been very gracious to us, but we don't wander around with complete freedom. But they've been gracious in letting us walk the fields and see how Samaritan's Purse plastic is being used.

What do you do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Via Translator): I'm in charge of the seedbeds here.

VAN SUSTEREN: How long have you been doing that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Via Translator): I started after marriage, five years ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you like it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Via Translator): Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Via Translator): If I do my job and I do it well, then our country will become prosperous and strong. And therefore, we will develop.

VAN SUSTEREN: I understand you are going to have a bad June because of the weather has been bad, you've had floods, so there are not going to be a lot of crops this June?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Via Translator): Yes. You can see where we planted a lot of winter crop, and most of it died.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is she worried about the problem with the weather and the crops this year?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Via Translator): Because the potatoes, barley, and wheat most of it has died. We are going to go through some difficult times.

VAN SUSTEREN: What are you going to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Via Translator): The government, they are trying to recover the quality of the soil so they can increase the yield. They are going to overcome by helping each other. So the neighbors they can help each other. Also, they are trying to have a better harvest with the main crop.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't think it can be underestimated how serious the situation is in this country of about 26 million people. This possibly pre-famine, but an opportunity for the people to be fed this is not like a situation where you are in the middle of the crisis. This crisis is just around the door, but could be prevented. Martha?

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS HOST/"ON THE RECORD" GUEST HOST: Greta, it is fascinating to watch this. You talk about how it is your third trip, and it is different in so many ways than any of our other trips. How does it feel different to you?

VAN SUSTEREN: You can't forget, we are still technically at war with this country. There's a cease-fire from 1953 but a lot of distrust between the two countries. Because it is our third trip, they trust us more and willing to give us more access.

At least in Pyongyang, the city, you see more cars on the road. So it's a little more vibrant. But farther north toward the Yalu River, you could tell this is going to be a very bad summer, if they don't get the food help they need.

MACCALLUM: How optimistic are they about getting help and the work that Franklin graham is doing to see that kind of charitable assistance as well to make a difference for them in this possible approaching famine?

VAN SUSTEREN: These people are extremely proud. But they are asking for help. The difference between the people and the government in any nation, but the people here are asking for help, because they are going to starve to death. There is no question the floods and severe weather has hurt this crop, so they are asking for help.

The United States government is now deciding whether to provide that help. But we'll find out soon. Of course, I'll see the viewers on Monday night. We'll see you live from Pyongyang, and I'll see you Monday night from Washington.

MACCALLUM: We look forward to it, Greta. Thank you so much.