North Korean authorities on Thursday distributed a document to journalists arriving in the North Korean capital, which described what is – and isn’t – expected of the press in their coverage of the upcoming September 9 celebrations and surrounding events.
The document, titled “Regulations for the activities by foreign journalists in the territory of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and dated from two years ago, warns attending media against “distorting the realities” of the country.
Reporters are told, among other things, that they are expected to not use their time in North Korea to produce “false report [sic] out of hostile intentions.”
They are also urged to “respect the manners and customs of the Korean people,” and told they should work to “promote the development of relations… between the DPRK and other countries.”
Authorities did not request journalists sign the document, however, which appears to have been provided as a guideline document.
The state-issued document also reminds reporters of Articles 62, 64, 65, and 67, as well as 231 and 282, of the country’s criminal code.
Those laws proscribe no less than five years of “reform through labor” for acts of propaganda against the state, with no more than ten years to be laid down in the event of serious infractions.
Acts of “political fraud,” reporters are reminded, are punished with “training through labor” for no more than one year.
While the document itself is dated from two years ago, NK News reporters visiting the Pyongyang for last year’s April 15th Day of the Sun events were not provided similar rules throughout the five-day visit.
Other foreign journalists currently in-country this week, too, expressed surprise to NK News at being given the document.
Overall, 130 members of the foreign press are expected to report from Pyongyang this week, with a large part of their coverage to be devoted to Sunday’s celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding.
The vast majority are scheduled to arrive in the DPRK capital on Thursday, though a large number have already begun coverage of goings-on in the lead-up to the much anticipated military parade and mass games on Sunday.
On Thursday morning, American journalists – including NK News – were taken to visit the birthplace of the DPRK’s founding president, Kim Il Sung, before a tour of the Pyongyang metro, a visit to the Triumph Arch, and the Mansudae Art Studio. The Mansudae Art Studio remains a U.S. and UN-sanctioned entity alias.
The sheer number of reporters visiting the North Korean capital appears to have presented some logistical challenges for DPRK authorities, with many journalists experiencing significant delays in getting online.
The mood on the streets among locals who agreed to talk to NK News and spoke through government-sanctioned guides, expectedly, is cheery.
Anti-American propaganda posters, long a mainstay of the DPRK capital’s streets and boulevards, continue to be absent.
North Koreans are keen to stress that their country is now a major global power, insist that international sanctions do not impact daily life, and say they are keen to maintain good relations with the U.S. as long as the current diplomatic detente continues.
In marked contrast to last year’s large-scale events, tourists in Pyongyang have been largely reaccomodated in rooms in the downtown Koryo, Sosan and Pothonggang Hotels and other, smaller, facilities.
Journalists, however, are almost exclusively being housed at the Yanggakdo Hotel, accompanied by a large number of pro-Pyongyang “friendship” organizations and diplomatic envoys.
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