[KS] BBC journalists pose as LSE university students in NorthKorea

Frederic OJARDIAS fojardias at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 15 10:24:28 EDT 2013

Dear Don,

This is funny how you can show at the same time so much interest for human rights in DPRK, and so little regard for the fate of these North Korean guides and their families.

You take great pride and legitimacy in your numerous short trips to DPRK. But I can tell you one thing : I lived approximately a year in North Korea (working for different humanitarian organizations, in Pyongyang and in the countryside) and I know how dangerous life can be for all the staff (drivers, guides, translators, etc) who deal daily with us, foreigners. Some disappear.

"No shred of evidence", you say ? Ask humanitarian workers. They will not agree with you. I saw real fear in the eyes of some of our DPRK counterparts when something went wrong. Working with us is dangerous.

Brave journalists who go to DPRK one week (with their article already written no matter what they will see), have fun, extract confessions from their guides, escape their minders, take footage and put at risks the life of the people they filmed (and their families) are not much worth the regime they feel so superior to.

Frederic Ojardias

Radio France Internationale
Seoul correspondant

From: don kirk 
Sent: Monday, April 15, 2013 8:34 PM
To: Korean Studies Discussion List ; Ruediger Frank 
Cc: Jim Hoare ; BAKS at JISCMAIL.AC.UK ; DavidMcCann ; Keith Howard 
Subject: Re: [KS] BBC journalists pose as LSE university students in NorthKorea

      This palaver is regrettable. There's no shred of evidence any NKorean ever got into trouble for the shenanigans of visitors -- the BBC mission having been one of many such ventures. I ran into the same head guide for my visit in 2005 and again 2008. He talked to me at some length. KNTO and Koryo Tours (the latter never handled my visits incidentally) will go on as usual. Nobody's claiming heroics -- nothing heroic about going there, very simple once you get the visa. Visitors may be among the world's best protected people, shielded from all harm while also shielded from seeing stuff they don't want seen. Trips can be quite routine when you're led to some of the same places every time, but they're the best one can do when the place is closed to the kind of reporting one can do even in repressed dictatorships.(No other country on earth compels visitors to line up in front of statues of their deceased leaders, bow and place flowers.) It's unfortunate some listees don't respect what the BBC, and others, are trying to do. Some listees seem to place higher priority on sensitivities about which they have no evidence than the need to attempt, against odds, to convey a modicum of understanding to the rest of the world.
      Don Kirk

      --- On Mon, 4/15/13, Ruediger Frank <ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at> wrote:

        From: Ruediger Frank <ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at>
        Subject: Re: [KS] BBC journalists pose as LSE university students in North Korea
        To: "Korean Studies Discussion List" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
        Cc: "Keith Howard" <kh at soas.ac.uk>, "Jim Hoare" <jim at JHOARE10.FSNET.CO.UK>, BAKS at JISCMAIL.AC.UK, "don kirk" <kirkdon at yahoo.com>, "Morriss, Peter" <pete.morriss at NUIGALWAY.IE>, "McCann, David" <dmccann at fas.harvard.edu>, "Balazs Szalontai" <aoverl at yahoo.co.uk>
        Date: Monday, April 15, 2013, 2:19 AM

        Dear all,
        I find this behavior highly unethical and irresponsible, for a number of reasons. 
        In addition to the many points made already, let's not be too self-centered. The feelings of LSE students and potential aid workers are important, but one affected group we have ignored so far. There were North Koreans responsible for that trip: folks from KNTO (the tourism organization) and others. They will now, away from the public eye and not protected by a Western passport, face allegations of not having done their job properly. I have always been deeply annoyed by the fact that such allegedly "heroic" behavior by Westerners - seriosly, what can happen to us in the worst case? - is taking place at the expense of those nameless people who are left behind in NK and who will have to bear all the wrath of the regime. We talk about human rights in NK and so on in our Sunday speeches, but in fact we don't give a bloody damn about the people there. This is disgusting.
        Besides, the NK state has also been lied to. Such behavior enforces stereotypes about Westerners who cannot be trusted. Not that anyone would care, but I wanted to at least mention that.
        Great, good job. And all that for stuff (I suppose) that I and 1000 others have filmed again and again before? Wow.
        I have decided not to give any interviews to BBC anymore. Well, they'll survive. 
        Prof. Rudiger Frank, Vienna
        PS: I forgot the tour operator, most likely Koryo tours. Their business is not going to get easier. But why should the BBC care? It's in the holy name of truth (about others), isn't it. Collateral damage, so what.

        on Sonntag, 14. April 2013 at 22:15 you 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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