July 8th, 2009
04:43 PM ET

Michael Jackson and Kim Jong Il

Editor's Note: To hear more from Gotham Chopra, Deepak Chopra's son and a friend of Michael Jackson, tune in to AC360° tonight 10p ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/07/03/us.jackson.poll/art.jackson1.gi.jpg]
Gotham Chopra

The last time I spoke to my friend Michael Jackson was about a month ago, 3 weeks before his shocking death. He had called me late one night to ask about another of my close friends who he had read about in the news. Laura Ling, a former colleague and friend, was detained originally by North Korean border guards along with her colleague Euna Lee on March 17th. Since then, they have been imprisoned, had very little contact with their families or western officials, and endured a secretive trial at which they were sentenced to twelve years hard labor. At this present moment, it is unclear where Laura and Euna are – whether they remain in a government guesthouse where they were originally held, in a hospital (due to medical problems for both of them), or moved to the infamous North Korean labor camps that many do not survive.

Michael had read some of the details regarding Laura and Euna’s predicament. As was often the case with him and global events he read about – from famine in Africa to victims of natural disasters in far off countries, to orphans created by wars – he felt a deep sense of empathy for Laura and Euna. When I shared with him that Euna had a four-year-old daughter, he was even more anguished.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson • North Korea
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. proactive

    i have had multiple sclerosis for 16 years, i would receive strong pain- killing medication via the emergency room because of the pain. upon visiting my neurologist, he was appalled that i received such precriptions and would not renew the prescriptions. it took a medical professional who takes his hippocratic oath seriously to take a stand and tell me look you don't need this and i won't help you get anymore. MJ was surrounded by professionals that want to make a quick buck and his family and "true" friends could have followed thru on a intervention via Oprah. people can also have love ones committed, the county mental hospitals complete a psych evaluation as well as medical. mental or medical problems tend to be the nucleus of what is really going on. i guess image was more important. MJ was truely lonely and didnot have true friends. now people are coming out with their stories, how much money are you and your dad getting paid for your?

    July 9, 2009 at 8:56 am |
  2. Tina Race

    I know that millions are curious and need to know how he died. I just feel that the way the media is handling it wrong. These three children are the most important and I see no one being concerned about how the children will hear or see the coverage now and in the future. Most certainly they need the truth

    Personally I'm glad that the media lost the vehicle that may of had his remains. I think that is just too funny.

    That precious child Paris showed the world exactly how her daddy was with her and her brothers. It doesn't matter anymore it is these children that matter.

    A message to these three beautiful children.

    Your daddy is always watching you now. My daddy used to say " Baby, I won't be gone. I'll just be away. " Oh sweet Paris, Blanket, and Prince your daddy is all around you now. When the wind blows upon your face or you feel a little giggle. That is your daddy letting you know he is there and will always surround you. My love to all of you Tina

    July 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  3. G Jordan

    This seems more like character assassination than anithing. Why is it so important to dig up all this now? All his so called good friends are all over the news helping them kill Michael Jackson all over again. It would seem there is more speculation , opinions, and guessing more than actual facts. There are medical facts and issues about his condition that are being looked over for the more sensational aspects. An all the so called concern over the children is only more wasted breath. How healthy is it for the children to hear all the "news" concerning thier parentage and the dirty details about their father?With the kind of "friends" he seemed to have, he did not need any enemies, not to mention our overly eager, dirt seeking news shows.

    July 8, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  4. cheryl

    i think the media are awful. they just do not stop. someone else who had been a high profile person at one point died that day her death seems to have got lost. in the media frenzy on mj.

    July 8, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  5. liza in nyc

    John, the quote was:
    "A child who lost his father believes anything is possible and believes nothing is safe."

    I'm going on my memory from hearing him say it twice, but it's very close to that if not exactly.

    July 8, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  6. Cindy H

    The problem with the world today, people are all too ready to be sheep. It is easier to believe what someone says, then to gather the facts and make up your own mind. Nobody knows for certainty what Michael did or didn't do or what occurred or didn't occur. How many parents are or have been to jail over false accusations their children have made? I chose not to be a sheep but to listen to facts and make up my own mind.
    It's human nature to sling arrows and the fact that Michael was a man with a generous and compassionate heart, gives the media enough ammo to dish whatever dirt they can find or make up..after all, the all mighty buck speaks volumes. I guess the fact that Michael was a man, means he shouldn't have any feelings.
    Michael longed for the childhood he never had, so now he is being called a child. Did you have a childhood? Do you know what it's like not to have one? I do and at 49, I still long for the childhood I never had. Today, Michael's death became not so surreal for me. I listened to some of his music after work and it started to sink in that the man was really gone. I began to cry. Michael Jackson is really gone!
    Does the world REALLY know what it has lost????

    R.I.P Michael

    July 8, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  7. Phyllis

    Have we lost all human civility? I would not want all the flaws of my body broadcast after an autopsy as they did MJ. Is that even legal? What happened to doctor patient confidance? No matter who you are it is just distasteful and wrong. Everyone should be accorded that much dignity in death.

    July 8, 2009 at 9:05 pm |
  8. A. Paul

    Loved this story – it really shows what kind of a person MJ was. Always trying to do some good and trying to make this a better world.

    However I have a problem with the fact that you and your father go out in public discussing with the media Michael Jacksons alleged medical drug addiction. If you would have been a true friend you maybe would have told the coroner or police but would not go public and damage MJ's image. A friend does not do this kind of thing. I am sure Michael would have never ever done that if he would have been in your place.

    Even if Michael took some pain medications on a regular basis – go to the LUPUS FOUNDATION website and learn what it means to have LUPUS. There is also a medication for Lupus which is given via IV (needle marks) by the way. It can also lead to heart and other organ failure. Besides IV use collapsed veins can also be caused by cardiac arrest, dehydration and anemia (also Lupus connected). I just don't know why everyone is so convinced that his death was med.drug related. Probably because it sells.

    July 8, 2009 at 9:01 pm |
  9. Annie

    Please look up the word vitaligo and then stop and think....did you ever see MK without long sleeves on. Did anyone ever stop and wonder seriously why he wore the face mask and sun glasses. Did you wonder why he was carrying an umbrella? Did you ever wonder why the glove. I know why',,. he had vitaligo which you do trying to keep the sun off of you. Vitaligo is very disfiguring ......why do I know about it. Because I have it, it started at my age of 19 and now at 79 I am completely white also. Evidently mine took longer than MKs did . There are 10 people in my small town that have different stages of it. You want to make sure that you are not out in the sun without proper cover, I know that is not what took his life, but please help people to understand what vitaligo is and it is not just being weird I don't wish it on anyone. '

    July 8, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  10. Cherisa

    We haven't heard much about Lee and Ling lately; rather, we haven't heard much about anything except Michael Jackson lately. Is there anything new to report? This seems to have fallen off the radar.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  11. Aman

    Michael Jackson was a good person and his concern towards our Americans in hot spots like N Korea is truely beautiful. Michael Jackson was not a man of God but God in a man who go the distance to save our citizens by entertaining the souls of our most dangerous enemies. I hope and pray that the power of Michael conquers the fears and ignorance of our enemies. Long live the Glory of Michael Jackson !!

    July 8, 2009 at 8:17 pm |
  12. R. Brackemyre

    I have 2 questions-
    1. Why was Lisa Marie Presley not solicited for at least a comment on her marriage and the death of MJ? She may not be vital news but it would be interesting to hear from her.

    2. Would appreciate follow up on the payment for the memorial on 7/7. In my opinion, the Jackson family should pay for it. Celebrity status should not include events such as that when they have the financial means to pay the bill to LAPD & the Staples Center. After all, if you or I rented the Staples Center, or other arena, we would have to pay the whole bill, right?
    Thank you, you are a great newscaster,
    R. Brackemyre
    Mooresville IN

    July 8, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  13. carol kesling

    god bless M.J. and his darling little angel kids, and god bless the family!!!!!!!!! he will be missed for years......... i do wish down the road they will let us know where he is buried so we can leave flowers. he was an angel to alot of people and i loved him so much !!!!!!!

    July 8, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  14. Pia Saavedra, MNL, RP

    I really like this story, Gotham. Much of MJ's music touched countless lives of every color and faith in possibly every corner of the world. That his magic might touch others and inspire them as well is all the rest of the world really asks in quiet silence. Thank you for sharing your story. And no, I don't think you were being naive at all.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:07 pm |
  15. Madeline Bowers

    Last night Anderson had a quote about a fatherless child. I too lost my father at age 7 and this sounded beautiful please let me know what he said.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  16. heather

    Anderson; I still want to know why the "close familyand friends" as they presented at the memorial did nothing to prevent the drug addiction which seems to have been the cause of Michael's death.
    How could they have not have known if they were so close?
    Thank you
    from Ontario canada

    July 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm |
  17. Cathy Pollock-Grieve

    Michael Jackson has been referred to by many, many people over the years as, "Michael", "The King of Pop", "Man in the Mirror", "The Gloved One", (the list of cool and not so cool names go on and on and on) . But It was for the first time yesterday on CNN that I (and most likely most of the general public) heard a child, his child, refer to him as "Daddy" in her heart-wrenching speech and all of a suddenly it dawned on me...he was also someone's daddy. My heart goes out to the family.

    July 8, 2009 at 7:03 pm |
  18. John Belcastro

    Last night, Anderson had a quote about a fatherless child.

    PLEASE, may I have taht beautiful saying and the author.



    July 8, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  19. Andrew Vickers

    Dear Andrerson:

    I have admired your reporting skills for years, and love your devotion, but whats with all of the Michael Jackson stuff. Are you turning into a scandle reporter. Wasting your time reporting on re-hashed Jackson info? Come on, we have a Korean missle crisis, two wars your country started but can't finish and a ton of other now worth items. Why degrade yourself to a show business scandle reporter. Are you bowing to corporate pressure to report on this crap? Hello Anderson, pick it up and be the reporter you really are, not this crap you've been putting out the last few day. It's just embarressing, I feel bad for you if this is all you can come up with. How about a report on the Republican corruption in the Bush admin.. There one to roll with. How about finding out if Bush can be charged with war crimes, cause if some other leader has done what Bush has done, they'd be in jail and you know it. Pick it up Anderson your starting to slip. Losing focus on the real issues here.

    Andrew Vickers

    (A canadian that loves the comedy of what the Americans have done to there once beautiful country.)

    P.S. Do a report on all of the illegal Americans working in our country, you guys a right we need a border wall to keep you guys out. Your just as bad as the Mexicans. I don't see you reporting on that.

    July 8, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  20. Annie Kate

    I think it is wonderful that Michael was interested in their case and offered to help out of the goodness of his heart. It would be beyond belief if this happened now after Michael's death – the sort of thing you dream about but just doesn't sound possible.

    July 8, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  21. Aaegie, Toronto, Canada

    Gotham, your piece on Michael Jackson is medicine after death. You claim michael jackson was your friend, however you and family hit the media circuit denegrating him in the guise of of being mad at his doctors and enablers, give me a break.

    July 8, 2009 at 6:14 pm |