Why Pyongyang’s AP bureau is worth it | NK News
July 21, 2024

Why Pyongyang’s AP bureau is worth it

Even compromised, the North Korean bureau can still be an important source of information

In 2011, the Associated Press (AP) told the world that it was opening a bureau in Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This decision was met with much criticism and disdain in the media world, and in the subsequent years the AP bureau in Pyongyang has remained the object of much skepticism, if not outright hostility.

The criticism is not completely unfounded. The permanent staff of the bureau are North Korean nationals recommended by the North Korean government – many suspect that they are also officers of the North Korean intelligence services. The bureau is occasionally visited by American and other foreign staff members of the AP, but the latter can only interact with locals through the mediation of the North Korean staff. There are serious restrictions on the movement of visiting journalists, and pretty much all their encounters with the locals have to be planned and reported to the North Korean government in advance. In short, this makes it highly improbable that the earlier statements of AP – that its bureau in the North Korean capital follows the same journalistic standards as applied by the AP elsewhere – are true.

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