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

Kenneth Koo kennethkoo at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 18 17:06:39 EDT 2013

Dear Koreanists,

Some of you have been following the controversy surrounding a recent BBC documentary on North Korea, which the broadcaster has labelled an ‘exclusive undercover’ glimpse at life under the current regime.

As a representative of the campaign to make BBC Korea a reality, I express strong disapproval of the tactic used by the BBC to produce the documentary. It is also our campaign’s determination that the documentary does little to shed new light on North Korea or North Koreans, failing to merit the ‘exclusive’ or ‘undercover’ label it claims. As the esteemed scholars here have noted, it recycles existing views and familiar footage of North Korea without offering cogent, constructive analysis.

The BBC is not perfect. It has demonstrated less than excellent judgement in the past. The Panorama controversy is but one instance where the BBC could have employed better decision-making abilities. The BBC’s flaws are disheartening to our campaign, but if anything, the latest fiasco is the perfect illustration of why the BBC needs to set up a Korean-language bureau in Seoul.

BBC Korea would be the surest way to improve the BBC’s coverage of the Korean Peninsula. In an age when too many outsiders rush to act as pseudo-experts on the Koreas without sufficient linguistic, cultural, social, and political knowledge, the BBC must be able to find support in an able body of in-house journalists who have true expertise on the region. Only then, we believe, can uninformed reportage along the likes of the Panorama documentary be prevented in the future.

We appreciate your comments and suggestions on our site, www.facebook.com/bbcforkorea. If you wish to directly address the BBC World Service leadership with your concerns about the BBC's continuing coverage of the Korean Peninsula, or your opinions regarding the possibility of BBC Korea, you can write the director Peter Horrocks at peter.horrocks at bbc.co.uk.

Thank you.

Se-Woong Koo
Campaign Manager
BBC for Korea
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