[KS] ABC and Pyongyang

petrov at coombs.anu.edu.au petrov at coombs.anu.edu.au
Wed Jun 8 21:49:12 EDT 2005

Dear Tracy,

Please do not be overexcited by the first LIVE broadcast from the
Secretive Kingdom to America since October 2000, when Madeleine Albright
visited Pyongyang. North Koreans will make sure that Bob Woodruff and his
crew will see only what they want them to see – the great monuments (to
symbolize the “invincibility of peoples’ spirit”), the nuclear plants with
empty cooling pools (guess where all the graphite rods are gone?), and the
blooming city markets abundant with cheap Chinese goods (a sign of reform
designed to resuscitate the centrally planned economy without really
changing anything).

Should a foreign journalist find anything more than that, the chief editor
back at home will expurgate unessential stuff from the report. That is why
the coverage of North Korea by Western media (after a handsome sum of
money is paid to the regime following the "aggressive talks") rarely goes
beyond a childish surprise about the absence of traffic lights in
Pyongyang and people working in the fields in summer.

Last month the international conference "U.S. Public Opinion Regarding the
Korean Peninsula & ROK-U.S. Relations", organised by the Institute for Far
Easter Studies, Kyungnam University, discussed the issue of hackneyed
images of North Korea customarily reproduced by American media (for the
list of topics and presenters see:
> )

It is a miracle that ABC News was allowed to report from the DPRK.
However, the ongoing economic reform in North Korea has nothing to do with
this exclusive reporting. As before, foreign (particularly American)
journalists are rarely welcome in the DPRK. But if they are allowed to see
something, it does not really matter whether the reporting is LIVE or
edited because both sides have already decided what to show to the
viewers. No surprises are expected.

Yours sincerely,

KF Post-Doctoral Fellow
The Academy of Korean Studies

>Dear List Members:
>This morning on ABC news, world correspondant Bob Woodruff reported "LIVE
from the Secret Kingdom" in Pyongyang.
 See Link: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/International/story?id=828300

>Has this ever happened before?  I don't recall reading or witnessing a
live report by an American news company.  What does this symbolize?
Could there be real, concrete change/reform going on in North Korea?

Tracy Stober
MA-International Studies-Korea
Univ. of Washington-Seattle

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