Associated Press Opens News Bureau in North Korea

Posted January 16th, 2012 at 6:25 am (UTC-5)
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The Associated Press has opened a bureau in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, becoming the first international news organization with a full-time presence to cover news from the reclusive nation in words, pictures and videos.

AP opened the office Monday, after almost a year of negotiations and less than a month after the death of longtime ruler Kim Jong Il.

AP President and CEO Tom Curley says the organization's newest bureau allows the news agency to “document the people, places and politics” of North Korea across all media platforms at a “critical moment in its history.”

“The world knows very little about the DPRK, and this gives us a unique opportunity to bring the world news it doesn't now have and additional cultural understanding, and access to stories of politics and economic development that we can't get otherwise.”

Curley says the Pyongyang bureau will operate under the same standards and practices as AP bureaus worldwide.

The bureau expands AP's presence in North Korea, which has remained largely off-limits to international journalists. In 2006, AP was the first international news organization to open a video bureau in Pyongyang.

For North Korea, the opening marks an important gesture, particularly because Pyongyang and Washington have never had formal diplomatic relations.

Kim Pyong Ho, president of the state-run Korean Central News Agency, said Monday the opening of the AP office was “significant.”

“As is known, now the relations between our two countries, the DPRK and the U.S., are in an abnormal situation. I hope that the AP Pyongyang office would play an important role in removing abnormal relations, and normalizing the relationship between the two countries, the DPRK and the U.S., promoting friendship and understanding between people of the two countries.”

AP's North Korean office will be staffed by two natives of North Korea who will be supervised by two American journalists with broad international experience. The Americans will also train local reporters.