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

CedarBough T. Saeji umyang at gmail.com
Tue Apr 16 19:27:18 EDT 2013

Dear Koreanists,

This afternoon my local NPR station aired Sweeney discussing his trip to
the North (the tone was very similar to the news article linked above).
This evening on their BBC news hour they will be airing more of Sweeney. I
called the station and asked them to consider not airing that segment,
explaining the problems with Sweeney's "investigative journalism."
Recognizing that they would be unlikely to change their evening coverage
based on my phone call, I asked them to consider introducing Sweeney's
report as something that should be received with a critical ear. I signed
off by asking the program desk staff member to google the issue so that he
could confirm what I was telling him. Perhaps some of the rest of you would
consider doing something similar if your local station airs BBC coverage.

Happy spring,

On Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 5:01 AM, Aidan Foster-Carter
<afostercarter at aol.com>wrote:

> Dear Keith and all,
>  No firewall. The Indy article is here:
> http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/students-on-bbc-panorama-trip-are-threatened-by-north-korea-8574189.html
>  The Mail also has it:
> http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2309255/Panorama-Students-BBCs-North-Korea-trip-received-threats.html
>  It would be good to see a full copy of the NK letter, and who exactly it
> came from.
>  I too have found this a very useful threat. I mean thread. (Genuine
> typo, too good to change).
>  Cheers
> Aidan
>  *Aidan Foster-Carter*
> *Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds
> University, UK*****
> * *****
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: kh <kh at soas.ac.uk>
> To: don kirk <kirkdon at yahoo.com>
> CC: Jim Hoare <jim at JHOARE10.FSNET.CO.UK>; DavidMcCann <
> dmccann at fas.harvard.edu>; Korean Studies Discussion List <
> koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>; Ruediger Frank <ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at>
> Sent: Tue, 16 Apr 2013 12:09
> Subject: Re: [KS] BBC journalists pose as LSE university students in
> NorthKorea
>  Thank you for everybody who has responded to this thread. It has been a
> very useful discussion, and informed my discussions with a number of
> journalists yesterday. While the story will no doubt disappear in the next
> few days, *The Independent *has a further twist in its edition this
> morning (alas, I think it is behind a firewall, so I have not been able to
> find it on the web), under the title 'North Korea issues threats to
> students as BBC airs controversial documentary':
>  'An email sent to the students by a North Korean tourism official on
> their return stated: "I warn you that I will make public to the world... the
> lies made in the name of LSE students. I reserve the right to make public
> and publish all personal data, including all your passports, to demonstrate
> that while we have been direct and honest with you, you have broken the
> DPRK law."'
>  The documentary, as many suspected it would be, was primarily tourist
> videos and library materials. Sweeney stood out from the students in a way
> that, as many of you expected, would surely mean that the North Koreans did
> know exactly who he was.
>   Keith Howard
> Professor of Music, SOAS, University of London. kh at soas.ac.uk
> (+44)207 8984687 (O); (+44)7805 048801 (M)
>  On 16 Apr 2013, at 01:36, don kirk <kirkdon at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Thanks -- Your experience was no doubt revealing. My own trips have ranged
> from four nights to two weeks, that's it. (Was there for 12 days last
> summer.) You have no doubt had many varied encounters. I was referring only
> to interaction with guide-minders on brief trips. They never said anything
> to me that was revealing beyond the authorized briefings they gave when
> looking at stuff, on the bus etc. Humanitarian workers, ranging over broad
> areas, would have different impressions and experiences. You err in
> thinking I or others would have no regard for the fates of guides and their
> families. In my experience there was never any instance in which such
> issues arose. Guides were always quite pleasant -- except when warning that
> anyone who veered outside the group would be told to leave the country.
> (They never came close to carrying out the threat.) I never heard of anyone
> "extracting a confession from guides." Nor do I know of anyone "with
> article written no matter what they see." My own articles from last summer
> are accessible through links on the "hermit kingdom" page of my website,
> www.donaldkirk.com. A problem in writing them was there wasn't a lot to
> go on, but I did my best with what I had. Another listee, Mr. Hoare, seems
> to think it's possible to get a journalist's visa any time. These are
> difficult and in most cases impossible to get. The AP in Pyongyang  has
> been noteworthy for writing soft non-critical stories. (Check out recent
> articles by Ethan Epstein, The Weekly Standard, and a piece I did for
> 38North: http://38north.org/2013/03/dkirk032213/.)
> Don Kirk
> --- On *Mon, 4/15/13, Frederic OJARDIAS <fojardias at hotmail.com>* wrote:
> From: Frederic OJARDIAS <fojardias at hotmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [KS] BBC journalists pose as LSE university students in
> NorthKorea
> To: "Korean Studies Discussion List" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>,
> "Ruediger Frank" <ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at>
> Cc: "Jim Hoare" <jim at JHOARE10.FSNET.CO.UK>, BAKS at JISCMAIL.AC.UK, "Keith
> Howard" <kh at soas.ac.uk>, "DavidMcCann" <dmccann at fas.harvard.edu>
> Date: Monday, April 15, 2013, 10:24 AM
> 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<http://us.mc1623.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=kh@soas.ac.uk>;
> 0207 8984687; 07805 048801

CedarBough T. Saeji

Research Affiliate, Center for Korean Studies at UCLA
(현) UCLA 한국학연구소 연구원
Ph.D. in Culture and Performance, UCLA, 2012
UCLA 문화와 공연학 (옛 민속학) 박사, 2012
M.A. in Korean Studies, Yonsei University, 2006
연세대학교 국제학대학원 한국학 석사, 2006

220 Snowberry Lane, Lopez Island, Washington, 98261

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