[KS] BBC journalists pose as LSE university students in North Korea

Hilary V. Finchum-Sung finchumsung at snu.ac.kr
Sun Apr 14 18:23:20 EDT 2013

I am not sure if the media has been acting strangely, but I do agree that the reports have been incredibly sensationalist, enough to strike worry unnecessarily in the hearts of every family with a relative or friend living here in South Korea. At the same time, I would never equate journalism with responsibility; particularly in this day and age of entertainment journalism.

The above being said, the BBC's 'undercover' disguise to get into NK doesn't surprise me, neither does their denial that they acted without integrity.  The head reporter (Sweeny) disguised himself as an LSE Ph.D. student--not necessarily an issue if acting alone and trying to hide one's reporter identity. However, it becomes a big issue when one is accompanying LSE students.  His pseudo-id inadvertently aligned him with the LSE and with the LSE students.  In addition, while the BBC insists that the students were informed of one reporter going on the trip, they were not informed that a crew of three would be going (well, the students were told this fact once they arrive in Beijing) and that they would be filming. Considering this, I'd have to say the BBC and the film crew has behaved unethically.  

While the circus of CNN etc will do what they do, this act of irresponsibility and insensitivity by a major (and I will say, respected) news organization, is just something we don't need right now.

Hilary Finchum-Sung

--- Original Message ---
From : "Su-kyoung Hwang"
To : "Korean Studies Discussion List"
Date : 2013/04/15 월요일 오전 6:16:33
Subject : Re: [KS] BBC journalists pose as LSE university students in North Korea

Some of the major Western medias (NYT, CNN, NBC etc.) have acted strangely during the recent crisis--to the point that people in South Korea noticed it. It is unfortunate that BBC lied to and manipulated these students. I hope the students take action. 


SK Hwang

On Sun, Apr 14, 2013 at 1:15 PM, Keith Howard kh at soas.ac.uk wrote:

I trust that some list members have heard of the lead news story today on the BBC, about three BBC journalists who accompanied students from the LSE – under the disguise of themselves claiming to be students. A BBC spokesman has claimed that to film the documentary (due to be broadcast tomorrow), it was worthwhile putting students at risk (Can this be right? – it was what their spokesman said on Radio 4 this afternoon). 

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22144667.

I would be interested in colleagues' reactions. 

Prof. Keith Howard
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG, UK
kh at soas.ac.uk; 0207 8984687; 07805 048801

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