January 18, 2022

A foreign media failure? Evaluating 10 years of the AP bureau in Pyongyang

Journalists and experts say access has worsened, but most insist that on-the-ground reporting remains valuable

In Jan. 2012, the Associated Press announced the opening of the first full U.S. news bureau in Pyongyang, assuring readers from the outset that the office would operate “under the same standards and practices as AP bureaus worldwide.”

Despite skepticism about whether the bureau could practice independent journalism, the opening nevertheless marked the beginning of an era of improved international media access to the DPRK. In addition to AP, CNN reporting trips into North Korea spiked significantly in the early years of Kim Jong Un, with anchor Will Ripley visiting 19 times. Then Agence France Press launched a bureau in 2016, followed by Cuba’s Prensa Latina in 2018. And mass media tours enabled scores of journalists from international news outlets — including NK News — to attend parades and political anniversaries with increasing frequency.