Posts tagged Associated Press
When the isolated country hosted dozens of reporters, athletes and minor celebrities at its International Pro-Wrestling Contest in Pyongyang at the weekend, opinions on the experience were mixed to say the least. We took a look at the coverage.
Pyongyang is recovering from its International Pro-Wrestling Contest which saw North Koreans line up next to international wrestlers, including three Americans, over two days.
The event was organised by Antonio Inoki, a former a Japanese wrestler-turned-politician, best known for going up against Muhammad Ali in 1979.
Before the event last weekend, Inoki spoke of his hope that the conference would help ease international tensions, after North Korea agreed to reopen a probe on Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s.
Sports officials for the North Korean government echoed that the tournament would be held in the spirit of “independence, peace and friendship,” with North Korean wrestlers taking part in demonstrations with visiting contestants.
With wrestling as the focus, North Korea opened its doors to the international media in the latest instalment of Kim Jong-un’s brand of sports diplomacy. The DPRK has previously hosted a basketball tournament with Dennis Rodman and next month they will send dozens of athletes to the Asian games.
So what was the verdict? We look at how people reported from a country they may only visit once in their lifetimes, from the competitors to the seasoned hacks and the celebrities there for a good time.
American pro-wrestler Jon “Strongman” Andersen was very complimentary about the show, posting an dramatic Instagram shot of his image on screen, towering over his performance. He described the production as “top notch,” along with everything else from “police escorts to the symphony”. He later took to Twitter to post a video of the event using the hashtag #wrestlingforpeace.
Fellow contestant Bob “The Beast” Sapp was equally as enthusiastic, taking to Twitter to share YouTube videos, action shots and a formal photo from the press conference. One fan tweeted: “I seriously can’t remember the last time I saw something that cool,” adding the hashtag #SappDiplomacy.
— Bob Sapp (@BobSappMMA) September 3, 2014
— Thomas Baranowski Jr (@TEBaranowskiJr) September 1, 2014
Journalists in attendance were under no illusions that their trips were fully stage-managed. In a live broadcast from Pyongyang on Monday, CNN journalist Will Ripley pointed out the armband he was required to wear at all times to identify him as a member of the press, describing their movements as “tightly-controlled”.
Then, in what they reported as an unexpected twist, Ripley’s team were taken off their advertised schedule a day later to interview three American captives held by North Korean authorities. Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years hard labour in 2013 after being accused of crimes against the state, Matthew Todd Miller, detained for “rash behaviour” after reportedly tearing up his passport at immigration, and Jeffrey Edward Fowle, who is suspected of leaving a Bible in North Korea, though a spokesman for his family said he had not been in the country for his church.
CNN described the set up as “bizarre”, with each giving “eerily similar” statements in their allotted five minutes with the media team.
Other journalists weighed in on the struggles of reporting from North Korea. Washington Post’s Anna Fifield said: “It’s such a thrill to get an elusive visa and see this closed society with your own eyes, yet so maddening when you realize that you’re moving through a kind of real-life Truman Show.”
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) September 2, 2014
This was her sixth trip and it had a familiar ring. The daily itinerary set by the government was “an endless succession of visits to monuments” and she was only given access to pre-selected people. But she said she had seen some changes; nine years ago mobile phones were left at departures, now journalists are able tweet and write freely from their hotel rooms. “The problem is that I can only tweet and write what I see, and I can only see what they want me to see. But the way I figure it, it’s always better to see something than nothing”, wrote Fifield.
Former NFL lineman Bob Sapp takes on a North Korean boy ahead of this weekend's pro-wrestling show in Pyongyang pic.twitter.com/qULBwofXmU
— eric talmadge (@EricTalmadge) August 29, 2014
Fugees rapper Pras was also there, and was credited with brining the Ice Bucket challenge to North Korea. He said that his crew tended to stick out when they travelled together but that North Korean people had been good to them.
And then there were ringside tweets from Michael Spavor (@mpspavor), who describes himself as a “private consultant involving business, sports and cultural exchanges with the DPRK” and has been credited with facilitating one of Rodman’s trips to the North.
— Michael (@mpspavor) August 31, 2014
It’s safe to say the tournament garnered international attention. But to what effect? Speaking to NK News, North Korea expert Andrei Lankov said that wrestling was “a rather strange activity”, which may serve to reinforce international opinion of North Korea as a “weird place”, but Lankov is of the school of thought that any exchange, no matter how small or managed with the outside world, is better than nothing.
They also spoke to Joshua Stanton of the One Free Korea blog, who argues that history has shown that previous events have not amounted to any real change.
Time Magazine has named David Guttenfelder its top Instagram photographer of the year for his on-going series of photos that chronicle life in North Korea.
Guttenfelder, chief Asia photographer for the Associated Press, has made numerous journeys to the DPRK over the past several years and began directly chronicling the country through Instagram earlier this year when North Korean opened up its cellphone network to foreigners.
One of the most attractive aspects of the pictures, especially from the point of view of those who follow North Korea closely, is that Guttenfelder’s photographs capture little moments of life not often seen. There’s the announcer explaining a movie on state TV, the Kim Il Sung badge in its packaging, the empty banquet room waiting for guests, and the couples dancing in the street.
“Guttenfelder’s year of work chips beneath the pariah state’s absurd façade,” Time said. “In his Instagram pictures, we see the spectral emptiness of Pyongyang’s Orwellian city blocks, the hushed quiet of passengers in buses, the coiled patterns of a carpet in an otherwise non-descript waiting room.”
The Associated Press has named Eric Talmadge as the new chief of its Pyongyang bureau.
Talmadge was previously a news editor for the AP in Tokyo and also wrote on regional military and security issues. He is a long-time Asia correspondent for the New York-based newswire.
Most recently, he accompanied AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt on his four-day trip to Pyongyang. Talmadge filed the main story to come out of the trip, which was an interview with Kim Yong Nam, president of the country’s parliament.
With Talmadge’s appointment, previous bureau chief Jean Lee will move to a new position at the AP where she will focus on in-depth stories about North Korea.
Lee has served as the AP’s Seoul bureau chief since 2008 and took on responsibility for Pyongyang when that office opened in January 2012. In the last two years, she has made many trips to the country shuttling between North and South Korea and filed numerous stories with a Pyongyang dateline.
Taking over from her in Seoul will be Foster Klug, who becomes acting bureau chief.
The Associated Press is the only western news agency to maintain a text and photo bureau in Pyongyang. Both APTN and Reuters have TV news bureaus in the country.
The president and CEO of the Associated Press, Gary Pruitt, just concluded a four-day visit to Pyongyang during which he toured the city and sat down for an interview with Kim Yong Nam, president of the country’s parliament.
The visit was the first reported trip to North Korea for Pruitt, who took over as CEO of the AP just over a year earlier.
The AP became the first western news agency to open a text and photo bureau in Pyongyang in January 2012 and AP executives have made several visits to the country.
Former AP president Thomas Hurley visited Pyongyang in 2011 to discuss the establishment of the bureau. He made another visit in 2012 shortly after the bureau opened 2012. Later in the same year and in July of this year AP Vice President John Daniszewski went to Pyongyang.
Pruitt’s visit began on October 2 with the delegation being met at Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport by Chon Il, vice director general of the Korean Central News Agency, according to a KCNA report.
The group’s activities on October 3 were not reported by KCNA, but the state-run news agency said on October 4 that they visited The Tower of the Juche Idea and the Mansudae Art Studio.
The interview with Kim Yong Nam took place on the same day at the Mansudae Assembly Hall. Kim Chang Gwang, director general of KCNA, was also in attendance, KCNA reported.
The delegation left Pyongyang the following day, but before leaving Pruitt presented a gift for Kim Jong Un to a North Korean official, said KCNA.
AP released few details about the visit.
“President and CEO Gary Pruitt was accompanied by a few AP executives and news leaders,” AP spokesman Paul Colford said in an e-mail in response to a request for the identities of the delegation members.
When asked about the nature of the gift for Kim Jong Un, he said, “No gift was presented to Kim Jong Un.”
KCNA’s story says the AP did deliver a gift intended for Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang, October 5 (KCNA) — Supreme leader Kim Jong Un received a gift from the president and CEO of the Associated Press staying here. The gift was conveyed to an official concerned by President and CEO Gary Pruitt on Saturday.
When pressed about the KCNA report, Colford said, “I have nothing to add.”
Pressed further about whether that means the AP is disagreeing with the KCNA report, Colford responded that such an interpretation would be “inaccurate.”
Colford didn’t respond to a further request for clarification.
Recent visits by AP executives to Pyongyang:
- July 24th to 30th, 2013. Visit by John Daniszewski, AP vice president, to coincide with North Korea’s celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. KCNA reported no details of meetings on the trip.
- June 6th to 9th, 2012. Visit by John Daniszewski, AP vice president. KCNA reported no details of meetings or visits on the trip.
- January 14th to 17th, 2012. Visit by Thomas Curley, then president and chief executive officer, to open the AP’s Pyongyang bureau. Curley met with Yang Hyong Sop, vice-president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly, at the Mansudae Assembly Hall, according to KCNA.
- March 8th to 11th, 2011. Visit by Thomas Curley, president and chief executive officer. During the trip, Curley met with Kim Yong Nam and presented a gift for Kim Jong Il, according to KCNA reports. Curley toured Pyongyang visiting the Tower of the Juche Idea, the Grand People’s Study House, the Arch of Triumph, the Pyongyang Cultural Exhibition, the Changgwang Kindergarten, the Pyongyang Metro, the Taedonggang Beer Factory and saw a performance of the the State Symphony Orchestra.
Fresh from becoming the first person to tweet and Instragram on Koryolink’s new 3G data service, Associated Press Korea Bureau Chief Jean Lee was at the SXSW Interactive event to speak about social media in the DPRK.
She’s a great person to speak to on the subject.
Her pioneering posting as the first accredited correspondent of any western news organization in Pyongyang has seen her make numerous trips to the country. The opening up of the 3G network to tourists and then a few weeks later data service for foreigners — a story she broke — was widely followed.
As with just about any North Korean news, the inevitable question is: “what does it mean?”
During this panel, which took place in Austin last weekend, you’ll find out a lot more.
Here’s the SXSW blurb and, at this link, an audio recording of the session.
Social media has transformed culture, communication, creativity and journalism in every nation on Earth — other than North Korea, of course.
Wait — not so fast. What do we really know about social media’s role in the mysterious nation — or what role it could play in the future, in the open or underground?
Frankly, not much. But one of the few Western journalists who’s reported from North Korea is piecing together the clues.
Get some insight and answers to your questions as Associated Press Social Media Editor Eric Carvin leads a conversation with AP Korea bureau chief Jean H. Lee, a social media-savvy journalist with firsthand expertise on the reclusive regime north of the 38th parallel.
Lee, named to Foreign Policy’s Twitterati 100 list of Twitter feeds to follow, has made more than a dozen trips to North Korea and is the only American reporter with permission to travel there regularly. If anyone can make sense of social media’s role in the isolated nation, she’s the one.
A joint photo exhibition being staged by The Associated Press and the Korean Central News Agency opened at New York’s The 8th Floor gallery this week.
The exhibition is one by-product of the AP’s opening of a news bureau in Pyongyang earlier this year and features 79 photographs, including shots from AP photographers, KCNA staffers and material from the KCNA archive.
The pictures are “designed to show what life is like in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the AP said in a news release.
They include the picture on the right, which is captioned: “A young North Korean dancer leaps by as girls put on panda bear costumes before performing at a Pyongyang park on April 15, 2011, the 99th anniversary of the late leader Kim Il Sung’s birthday.”
A delegation from KCNA traveled to New York to attend the opening of the exhibition. It included First Vice-Director General Kim Chang Gwang and was accompanied by AP officials including Senior Vice President Kathleen Carroll and Vice President John Daniszewski.
The KCNA story on the exhibition had a slightly different slant on things than AP:
On display at the exhibition under the theme “True Picture of Korea” are photos of undying revolutionary exploits President Kim Il Sung, leader Kim Jong Il and the dear respected Kim Jong Un performed for the building of a thriving nation, people’s happiness, independent and peaceful reunification of Korea and global independence. Photos also deal with their revolutionary activities and great personalities. — KCNA, March 16, 2012.
The exhibition will be open until April 13, which is two days before the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung. Visiting hours are Tuesday and Thursday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Associated Press has opened a news bureau in Pyongyang making it the first western news agency to have a reporter and photographer based in the North Korean capital.
The bureau represents a coup for the AP over the competition, but its close cooperation with the state-run Korean Central News Agency, necessitated to realize the deal, brings with it questions over editorial independence.
AP President Tom Curley and KCNA President Kim Pyong Ho officially opened the bureau in Pyongyang on Monday. It came six months after the two met in New York and signed a basic agreement towards the office.
The bureau will be housed inside KCNA’s headquarters and will be permanently staffed by two North Koreans: reporter Pak Won Il and photographer Kim Kwang Hyon.
AP didn’t provide details of the background of the two and declined to say if they were on the payroll of AP or KCNA.
Regardless of their employment status, they were almost certainly trained in the North Korean media-slash-propaganda machine with books such as “The Great Teacher of Journalists” — a heavy tome filled with advice to journalists by Kim Jong Il. Their appointment would have been approved by North Korean authorities.
The two have already contributed to AP’s coverage over the last few weeks on the death of Kim Jong Il.
Pak was credited as providing details for several AP stories on the funeral, including “Thousands Gather In Snow To Mourn Kim Jong Il.” Kim Kwang Hyon is believed to be the photographer responsible for several unattributed photographs issued by AP of the funeral.
Video footage of the office released by KCNA shows pictures of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il hanging on the wall above some desks. A TV hangs on the wall and there also appears to be a refrigerator and microwave oven.
It’s this closeness with KCNA that has AP walking a delicate editorial line.
AP is based on a traditional of independent reporting, and KCNA is anything but independent. Its Japan-based website describes the agency as speaking “for the Workers’ Party of Korea and the DPRK government,” and its daily output is heavy with glorification of its leader and threats against South Korea and the U.S.
But when it comes to North Korea, KCNA is the only game in town.
North Korea has remained one of the few places in the world that has remained almost totally impenetrable to foreign journalists. Visits are strictly supervised and controlled, and information flow in and out of the country is just a trickle. This was demonstrated vividly in December when governments and media organizations were apparently unaware that anything was amiss in the days before the death of Kim Jong Il was announced.
Getting coverage from Pyongyang, albeit with assistance from the government’s news agency, is probably better than nothing.
The real payoff will come in the regular reporting trips by AP staffers that form part of the deal. Korea Bureau Chief Jean Lee and Chief Asia Photographer David Guttenfelder will oversee the bureau and are likely to continue visiting the country.
It also gives AP a leg up on competitors such as Reuters and AFP when major news breaks in Pyongyang, such as the recent death of Kim Jong Il.
Here’s some of the coverage from Twitter:
The Associated Press has signed a deal with North Korean state television that gives it exclusive rights to high-definition video of major news events in the country.
The deal comes as AP and its biggest competitor, Reuters, race to expand their access to North Korea ahead of the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth — an event that is expected to see large scale celebrations and events in Pyongyang around April 15.
The new deal lasts three years and makes London-based APTN (Associated Press Television News) “the only agency to transmit broadcast-quality HD pictures of key news events in North Korea,” it said. The pictures will come from North Korean state broadcaster KRT with which AP already has an agreement to redistribute its video to AP member TV stations worldwide.
AP President Tom Curley announced the deal in Tokyo on Thursday (pictured, right).
For day-to-day coverage it gives APTN a leg up on Reuters TV, which has access to standard definition video footage from KRT and state news agency KCNA.
Competition between AP and Reuters to supply footage to TV stations is fierce and the new deal could give APTN an advantage, especially in countries like Japan where demand for footage is high and most broadcasters want HD pictures.
Additionally the deal gives APTN exclusive rights to provide high-definition video feeds for all news broadcasters wishing to transmit from the country. That means any TV station wanting to send a high-definition live shot from the DPRK will have to use AP’s services. That could mean big money in 2012 if the DPRK opens its doors to foreign TV stations.
The deal builds on a relationship between APTN, KRT and the DPRK’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications that began in 2006 when AP opened the first western TV news bureau in Pyongyang.