He recalled one time when North Korean officials grew wide-eyed on hearing that the South Korean presidential election was a real contest in which the leader was chosen by votes, and not behind closed doors. They were even more fascinated to learn that the government cannot just tell the South’s news media what to say, Mr. Kwak said.
“I told them, it doesn’t work that way in South Korea,” he said
At the same time, being too open in conversation could cause problems for North Koreans, said the manager of a jewelry factory who asked not to be identified. He said that some of the North Korean workers also appeared to be informers, and if one appeared to grow too friendly with his South Korean supervisor, he would suddenly be transferred the next day to a different part of the factory.