Updated March. 25, 2013 05:08
The North Korea bureau of the Associated Press is turning a blind eye to or giving misguided information on the abuses of the communist regime, including serious human rights violations as evidenced by concentration camps, in consideration of its relations with authorities there, a veteran American journalist says. The AP became the first Western news organization to have a branch in North Korea in January last year.
Donald Kirk, the Seoul correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor who has covered the Korean Peninsula since the 1970s, made this argument in his commentary The AP Plays Defense on North Korea posted Friday on the website 38 North run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University.
Among reports filed by the APs Pyongyang bureau last year, Kirk listed as examples of pandering to North Korea the detention of Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae (Dec. 22), Pyongyang`s bid to reform its economy (Sept. 12), the news conference of Park Jeong-sook, a North Korean defector who returned to the North (June 28), and reporting on the centennial Day of the Sun, or the birthday of North Koreas founder Kim Il Sung (April 15).
On Parks news conference, Kirk said the AP never mentioned that she might have returned to North Korea due to fears that her family left in the North would be tortured, imprisoned or even executed, saying, The AP reporter did not even ask such questions to Park or North Korean authorities."
While focusing on promoting North Korean authorities, which are pushing for economic reform as a mere formality, he said, the AP has turned a blind eye to lingering starvation in farming areas in Hwanghae Province and given misguiding reports on the brutal punishment for North Koreans who believe in Christianity and possess the Bible.
The news service claims that it files reports on human rights in North Korea but the quotes in those reports are mostly from outsiders, including figures in Seoul or Washington. According to Kirk, the AP has also given no hints that its Pyongyang bureau asked about human rights to North Koreans or tried to find information from non-government organizations or diplomats based in the North.
Kirk said the reluctance of AP`s Pyongyang bureau to cover human rights and other issues in North Korea shows that the AP is violating its own standard that it follows elsewhere around the world, adding that the news agency should question whether it should even maintain the bureau.