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

don kirk kirkdon at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 14 19:29:52 EDT 2013

Obviously no journalist should report what he hasn't seen. On the other hand, contacts in Pyongyang, NGO's, WFP, diplomats, do provide insights into stuff the journalists would not have seen -- and the NKoreans might not like. Journalists cannot be limited to reporting only what they see with their eyes.My sense is the LSE people on the trip are crybabies making a fuss out of nothing. They should be cheering the BBC people for their enterprise. Of course no one was in the slightest danger. What nonsense. Please.Don Kirk

--- On Sun, 4/14/13, Jim Hoare <jim at jhoare10.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:

From: Jim Hoare <jim at jhoare10.fsnet.co.uk>
Subject: Re: [KS] BBC journalists pose as LSE university students in North Korea
To: "'Korean Studies Discussion List'" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Date: Sunday, April 14, 2013, 5:57 PM


I am appalled by the action of this
reporter and by the BBC’s defence. It is quite interesting how his BBC
colleagues interviewing him and senior staff have adopted a highly critical

As it happens, one of the students
involved had contacted me in advance about likely issues on the visit and among
the things that I said concerned the North Koreans was people who were
journalists pretending to be something else. 

The journalist, Mr Sweeney, has been
devious. He knew the danger to which he was subjecting the students but went
ahead. As I understand it, it was only as they left Beijing that they were told
that there were three people who were journalists by which time they could have
done nothing about it. 

And for what? As one of the BBC
interviewers put it, what did they get that was any different from tourist
accounts? Nothing as far as I can see, though I will watch the program tomorrow
with interest. But Mr Sweeney’s comments so far and his Daily Mail article do not indicate a
dispassionate approach. 

Don Kirk may feel that it is OK to go
pretending to be something else but I disagree. When I was in Pyongyang in the
early 2000s, a number of BBC journalists visited – with journalist visas –
and saw quite a lot without being in any way clandestine. My experience of the
North Koreans was that the problem was journalists who pretended to have seen
things that they had not, rather than those who honestly  reported what
they had seen. 

Jim Hoare 

British chargé d’affaires
(Head of the British embassy), Pyongyang 2001-2002. 

Senior Teaching Fellow, SOAS. 


From: Koreanstudies
[mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws] On
Behalf Of Keith Howard

Sent: 14 April 2013 21:16

To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws

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


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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