Speaking to ordinary citizens inside North Korea is almost impossible, with visitors heavily policed and communication with the outside world blocked. But two residents were willing to speak to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, despite the threat of death or imprisonment.
In North Korea, where leader Kim Jong-un has almost godlike status, to question him out loud is for many unthinkable.
Citizens are taught he is all-knowing, and told to inform on dissenters – including their own family members.
By speaking out, market trader Sun Hui – not her real name – knows she is putting her life at risk.
“Mostly, people criticise Kim Jong-un for being a businessman,” she says, reflecting wider discontent.
“People say that he acts the same as us, but takes away our money.
“[They say] the little man uses his head to suck up money like a little vampire.”
Over many months, the programme has been using a covert communications network to put questions to ordinary North Koreans. The BBC has taken steps to conceal their identities and to ensure their continued anonymity.
If the regime knew of Sun Hui’s real identity, she would face severe punishment – imprisonment in one of the regime’s hard labour camps or even execution.
And she may not be the only one to be punished – three generations of her family could also be sent to prison.