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

Younghae Chi younghae.chi at orinst.ox.ac.uk
Thu Apr 18 15:25:10 EDT 2013

<Sweeney witnessed "a landscape bleak beyond words, a people brainwashed for three generations and a regime happy to give the impression of marching towards Armageddon".>

The hype is truly deplorable. To see where the poor journalism is rooted, we need to look at the larger picture. The BBC was obviously unaware that there are few things they can find anew through such a stunt, and a great deal are already in the database. The South Korean Government knows its northern counterpart even to the level whether a public toilet in a remote village in Musan-Gun is facing east or north, or who of the nine members of Girls Generation is most popular among NK youngsters, or why the fame of 'Sex and the City' doesn't affect the circulation of the equally popular 'Winter Sonata' among NK people. Why don't they ask the SK government how NK people react to the recent 'crisis' before they hurt the trust of the students? To them NK is clearly a land of dark which their journalism alone can shed light on.

We recently see western journalism being increasingly locked into a self-created reality or something we can call war-mentality. If NK wants to attack SK, it has to mobilize the entire range of  its military forces and the massive logistics line. All these time-consuming moves will be instantly detected by the US-Korea intelligence system, which will accordingly upgrade its military alert level from the usual DEFCON-4 to DEFCON-3, with immediate transfer of operational control from the Korean military to the US-Korea Combined Command. So far NK has shown no strategically significant moves whatsoever and hence no corresponding reaction on the part of the South. If SK needs to upgrade the alert level, it will announce it publicly, as it did in 1976. The Korean stock market has rightly ignored the hypes by Western media, and the gold price and the won/dollar exchange have remained unexcited. Even Psy rampantly danced with 50,000 fans in the Olympic Stadium to celebrate the release of his new dance music last Saturday. Of course there are millions of reasons that NK should be playing the recent verbal war game.

Amateurism invariably leads to a heroic stunt, but we don't care. What we really care is that when a powerful institution is locked into an illusion, the cost can be grave on human life whether intended or not. That is what happened to the Korean military in Gwangju in May 1980.

Dr Young-hae Chi
University Instructor in Korean
Faculty of Oriental Studies
University of Oxford
Pusey Lane
Oxford,  OX1 2LE
United Kingdom
Email: younghae.chi at orinst.ox.ac.uk<mailto:jay.lewis at orinst.ox.ac.uk>
Tel: +44-(0)1865-288205

From: Koreanstudies [mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws] On Behalf Of Morriss, Peter
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 11:18 PM
To: Korean Studies Discussion List
Subject: Re: [KS] BBC journalists pose as LSE university students in NorthKorea

May I be allowed to post the Dokdo Times' take on this, for light relief, for those of you who haven't already read it?  As usual it is spot on, in my view.

Pete Morriss,

Department of Political Science and Sociology,

National University of Ireland, Galway


Sunday, April 14, 2013
Anger at BBC Use of 'Human Shields' in North Korea<http://dokdotimes.blogspot.ie/2013/04/anger-at-bbc-human-shields-in-north-korea.html>
The London School of Economics has demanded that the BBC withdraw a television program in which an investigative reporter for the broadcaster is shown traveling to North Korea with a group of LSE students acting as his cover.

The British state broadcaster's 'Panorama<http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006t14n>' reporter John Sweeney posed as one of the LSE's PhD students on a university society trip in order to film undercover in the country.

On its website, the BBC said that Sweeney witnessed "a landscape bleak beyond words, a people brainwashed for three generations and a regime happy to give the impression of marching towards Armageddon". He then left the BBC's offices and traveled to North Korea where he encountered a similar environment.

While Sweeney said the students were told a journalist was with them, the LSE said that "It is LSE's view that the students were not given enough information to enable informed consent, yet were given enough to put them in serious danger if the subterfuge had been uncovered". The LSE is a prestigious British university which typically educates the kind of political and business leaders whose subterfuge put the international economy in danger during the global financial crisis, and as such there is some doubt as to its students' ability to make informed decisions, based on the precedents set by their predecessors.

While the BBC has tried to portray Sweeney's program as a 'shocking expose', it travels a path so well-worn by hundreds of other journalists before him that Pyongyang - which is desperate for foreign currency - was recently rumored to be considering starting tours for undercover journalists under a specially created state-run company called 'Shocking Expose Tours'.

However, North Korea was ironically forced to cancel the plan after it emerged earlier this year that a number of BBC stars had allegedly abused children over several decades on its premises<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Savile_sexual_abuse_scandal> while staff turned a blind eye, and that as a consequence the 'shocking expose tours' brand has instead recently become synonymous with public visits to the rogue state broadcaster.

The BBC's investigative journalists meanwhile were said to have been unaware of what was sometimes happening just down the corridor from them during the period in which the abuse allegedly took place, and the scandal was eventually publicized in a program by ITV - the BBC's main rival in England, after the rigidly controlled state broadcaster failed to successfully suppress the story. The BBC - having failed to investigate its own secrets - was said to be hopeful it would have better luck exposing the North Korean regime's secrets on official tours which are organized and rigidly controlled by Pyongyang.

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