Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Associated Press opens fully accredited bureau in Pyongyang

The American News Agency, The Associated Press, has opened a full bureau in Pyongyang. A welcome development. Yet, AP’s British based video news arm has operated in North Korea since 2006, a detail long kept under wraps in the US media. Forgotten or simply lost between the cracks is the equally ignored presence of a British embassy in the North Korean capital.

A fully accredited American agency in the DPRK, a country where the US is not the flavour of day, does raise eyebrows, a month after the death of Kim Jong il.

Much will not doubt be made of this: it signals a new initiative of a new leader possibly. Surely, Kim Jong eun has given it his caution. Still, North Korea does not make decisions rashly. The US and South Korean press will see this move as conformation of Washington’s and Seoul’s hardnosed policy. But, that is a self serving assessment, the establishment of a US, if not a western, news agency in Pyongyang has been in the works for a while, subject to much negotiation, as well as benign neglect on the part of the Obama administration. Kim Jong il’s stamp is on the deal even if no one is willing to admit it.

As GuamDiary has long insisted, the late ‘Dear Leader’ had never lost an opportunity to talk to the US on an even playing field without preconditions. And 2012 is year 100 of Kim Il Sung’s birth: an excellent moment of reporting for the North.

Not to be downplayed is AP’s presence will provide Pyongyang with an opening to the wider world so that its story can be told from the horse’s mouth without the usual spin the US and South Korea put on it for their own ideological and political purposes.

In a way, North Korea has assailed the Cold War propaganda machine that has functioned with a never ending of treacle. Of course, AP will not quiet that war, but now the field is clearer and the advantage is no longer the preserve of Washington and Seoul, even though ironically the AP bureau in Seoul will compete with its sister bureau in Pyongyang

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