Archive for the ‘Associated Press’ Category

Joint exhibition by the AP and KCNA

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

UPDATE (2012-3-15): Ironically, we have coverage of the photo exhibit from the Associated Press:

“Daily life is really what I try to focus on when I’m there. … It’s unscripted, it’s candid,” said AP Chief Asia Photographer David Guttenfelder, who took some of the photographs in the show, and who has made who has made many reporting trips to North Korea since 2010.

“For people to see their own life in other people’s lives, I think it has a lot of power to break down barriers.”

“Windows on North Korea: Photographs From the DPRK,” is a joint exhibition by The Associated Press and the state-run Korean Central News Agency, and features a mix of archival and contemporary images.

The show was timed to open before the 100th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung, on April 15, and comes two months after the AP expanded its operations in Pyongyang to include writers and photojournalists. The AP became the first international news organization to have a full-time presence in the secretive communist country when it opened a video bureau in 2006.

The photographs “give us rare views of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a nation of great interest to the world, though little known,” said Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP.

North Korea and the United States have never had formal diplomatic relations, and the two nations have experienced tensions over the years, particularly over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. North Korea has tested two atomic devices in the past six years.

Tensions had recently eased somewhat. Late last month, the United States and North Korea announced an agreement that calls for Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear activities in exchange for food aid. But a surprise announcement by the North Koreans on Friday that they plan to blast a satellite into space on the back of a long-range rocket could jeopardize that agreement.

The exhibit’s organizers said they hoped the show would help foster better understanding between the two countries.

“My expectation is that this will be the first step in some peaceful reconciliation, and in a few years there will be trade, cultural exchange and tourists from each country coming to (the) other,” said Donald Rubin, who co-founded The 8th Floor gallery hosting the exhibit.

Images on display included a 1953 KCNA photograph showing residents helping to rebuild Pyongyang’s central district after the Korean War, AP photos documenting visits by such prominent foreigners as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright, as well as everyday scenes ranging from sunbathers at the beach to shoppers inside a modern department store.

“It is our hope that this exhibition would give exhibition-goers visual understanding of the people, customs, culture and history of the DPRK, thereby helping to deepen mutual understanding and improve the bilateral relations,” Kim Chang Gwang, KCNA’s senior vice president, said in an address at the show’s opening.

“In this exhibit, we are offered two perspectives of the DPRK — as viewed by her native daughters and sons from KCNA and by AP journalists visiting to chronicle news and daily life there. We can appreciate the different styles and techniques and points of view,” Carroll said. “These photographs also show us that different people can find common ground.”

The show also includes images taken by KCNA journalists who participated in a joint workshop in October led by AP instructors. It runs from March 15 to April 13 at The 8th Floor gallery, which was established to promote cultural and philanthropic initiatives.

The AP, an independent news cooperative founded in New York and owned by its U.S. newspaper membership, has operations in more than 100 countries and employs nearly 2,500 journalists across the world in 300 locations.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-3-10): According to Yonhap:

A group of North Korean journalists left for the United States Saturday to attend a photo exhibition set to open next week, marking the centenary of the birth of the North’s late founding leader, Kim Il-sung, the country’s media said.

The North’s delegation, led by Kim Chang-gwang, vice director of the Korean Central News Agency, will attend the opening ceremony of the photo exhibition scheduled for March 15, the news agency said in a report.

The photo exhibition, to be jointly organized with The Associated Press, is scheduled to run until April 13, two days before the late leader’s 100th birthday, the American news agency said in its Web site.

The photo exhibition is part of joint programs being pushed by the KCNA to promote its nascent relations with the U.S. news agency. The AP opened a bureau in Pyongyang in January, the first international news agency with a full-time presence in the reclusive country to dispatch texts, photos and video.

The KCNA said the New York exhibition will showcase photos archived by two news agencies, including the North’s late founding leader and his deceased son Kim Jong-il who died of heart failure in December last year, as well as people and life in the communist state.

Additional information:

1. Here is the coverage of the KCNA delegation’s departure from Pyongyang reported by KCNA.

2. Here is the web page of the exhibit.

3. Extensive comments and additional information at OFK.

4. Foreign Policy writes about the conditions under which the aP operated in the DPRK.

5. How the AP selected its North Korea reporter


Associated Press in Pyongyang

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

UPDATE 5 (2012-1-17): The Associated Press is opening a Bureau in Pyongyang. Martyn Williams reports:

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.

UPDATE 4 (2011-9-29): The Associated Press has signed a deal for HD video from the DPRK. According to themselves (notice it is a new story not a press release!):

Associated Press President and Chief Executive Tom Curley said Thursday the agency has signed an exclusive deal to provide high definition news video from North Korea to broadcasters worldwide.

In a speech in Tokyo, Curley unveiled the three-year agreement with North Korean state broadcaster KRT and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

“Today’s announcement means that AP will be the only news agency to transmit broadcast quality HD video of key events in North Korea,” he said at the Japan National Press Club.

Associated Press Television News will also have exclusive rights to deliver HD video feeds for individual broadcasters wishing to transmit their own reports from North Korea.

The infrastructure will be established ahead of 2012, when the so-called Hermit Kingdom celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late leader Kim Il Sung.

The deal extends AP’s recent push into North Korea to a level unmatched by any other Western news organization.

AP announced in June that it had also signed a series of agreements with the Korea Central News Agency, including one for the opening of a comprehensive news bureau in Pyongyang.

Expected to launch early next year, the office would be the first permanent text and photo bureau operated by a Western news organization in the North Korean capital. It would build upon the AP’s existing video news bureau, which opened in Pyongyang in 2006.

In addition, the agencies signed a contract designating the AP as the exclusive international distributor of contemporary and historical video from KCNA’s archive. The agencies also plan a joint photo exhibition in New York next year. They already had an agreement between them to distribute KCNA photo archives to the global market, signed earlier this year.

“This is a historic and watershed development,” Curley said. “For AP, it extends further and deeper our global reach and shows the trust that is at the core of AP reporting. For the world, it means opening the door to a better understanding between the DPRK and the rest of the world.”

The latest deal also highlights AP’s broader digital transformation efforts in a rapidly evolving media landscape.

AP, which sees video as a critical part of its future, is investing at least $30 million into its video business. Under an 18-month plan, the agency is upgrading all infrastructure to eventually provide HD video that “will fit easily into digital platforms of any media customer anywhere.”

Curley told the group of Japanese journalists that while the U.S. is “ground zero” for the digital media shift, “the movement of information consumption to online platforms and devices is here to stay, and it will inevitably upend traditional forms of media everywhere in the world.”

Founded in 1846, the AP maintains bureaus in some 100 countries around the world and is the oldest and largest of the world’s major news agencies.

UPDATE 3 (2011-7-12): Reuters is also establishing a presence in the DPRK.

UPDATE 2 (2011-7-1): The AP is opening a bureau in Pyongyang.  According to

The Associated Press is to open a bureau in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, following an agreement with state news agency KCNA.

The new bureau will be the first permanent text and photo office operated by a Western news organisation in the North Korean capital. It follows the opening of an AP television office in the city five years ago.

Run by a notoriously secretive regime, North Korea also has a poor press freedom record. It is ranked 177 out of 178 countries on the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Under the new agreement, AP will have exclusive global distribution of video content from the KCNA archive. The agreement has been negotiated over the past few months, with KCNA president Kim leading a delegation of executives to AP’s New York headquarters.

In March, chief executive Tom Curley and executive editor Kathleen Carroll were part of a delegation that traveled to Pyongyang.

Curley heralded the agreement as “historic and significant”.

“AP is once again being trusted to open a door to better understanding between a nation and the world. We are grateful for this opportunity and look forward to providing coverage for AP’s global audience in our usually reliable and insightful way.”

UPDATE 1 (2011-3-10): According to Yonhap, the AP is once again asking to open a bureau in Pyongyang:

Thee Associated Press (AP), one of the main news agencies in the U.S., has asked North Korean authorities to help it open a bureau in Pyongyang, a news report claimed Thursday.

Itar-Tass, a Russian news agency, reported from the North Korean capital that a delegation for AP, headed by its president and CEO Thomas Curley, made the request during its ongoing visit to Pyongyang.

Citing an informed Korean source, Itar-Tass reported that the AP delegation said opening a Pyongyang bureau “would make it possible to create in the United States an objective and truthful picture of events” taking place in the communist regime.

“However, there is no clarity so far on the issue of opening of the AP office,” the source was quoted as saying.

North Korea’s state media reported briefly on Tuesday of the arrival of the AP delegation, but didn’t elaborate on why AP was visiting and how long its delegation would stay.

A source in Seoul had earlier told Yonhap News Agency that Curley is scheduled to stay in Pyongyang until Friday and his visit may be aimed at trying to set up a news bureau in the reclusive state.

Among foreign news agencies, only Itar-Tass and China’s Xinhua have bureaus in Pyongyang, while a journalist from the People’s Daily newspaper of China is also based there.

Itar-Tass on Thursday said officials from Reuters, the London-based news agency, also visited Pyongyang earlier with a similar request.

AP Television News, the international video division of AP, opened a full-time office in Pyongyang in 2006, making it the first Western news organization to establish a permanent presence in North Korea. The Pyongyang office of APTN currently provides only video images.

Below is a report I posted in 2006 on the opening of the APTV office in Pyongyang.

ORIGINAL POST (2006-5-23): The Assoicated Press Television News is opening an office in Pyongyang. According to the Joong Ang Daily :

AP Television News, a British-based agency, opened a full-time office in North Korea yesterday, with three North Koreans to be on the permanent staff, said Toby Hartwell, marketing director of APTN in London.

With the bureau, the television service becomes the first Western news organization to provide regular coverage from the reclusive country.

The bureau’s staff will be recruited from the North’s state-run media. International staff from APTN will have frequent access to the country and work with them, Mr. Hartwell said.

Mr. Hartwell said APTN has been given access to the country, and he believes that will continue.

APTN is the international video division of the Associated Press. It delivers video content of breaking global news to broadcasters around the world.