Undercover in North Korea

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Internet

"I Saw Another Side of North Korea While Traveling Undercover" - Benjamin Mack - Business Insider

"In June 2013, I traveled to North Korea's North Hamgyong Province undercover, not disclosing that I was a journalist in order to get a sense of life in areas from from Pyongyang"


 "For eight days, I lived undercover, hiding the truth from my traveling companions and near-ubiquitous military guards. . . .Panic shot through me when the North Koreans looked at my passport, inside which was my worker's permit for Germany which states I'm a journalist . . . Fortunately they couldn't read the German . . . " 

"LSE anger at BBC Panorama over North Korea trip" - BBC News

The London School of Economics (LSE) and its students' union have demanded the BBC withdraw Monday's Panorama programme about North Korea.


". . .'For us, this is a matter of student welfare - students were lied to, they weren't able to give their consent.'She said all LSE's future research was 'now at risk'. 'I think the trip was organised by the BBC as potentially a ruse for them to get into North Korea and that's disgraceful. They've used students essentially as a human shield in this situation.' . . ."

"Panorama North Korea documentary goes undercover with 5.1 million" – Mark Sweney - The Guardian (UK)

Controversy over BBC's decision to use trip a organised by LSE to film in secretive nation, helped fuel bumper ratings


"The BBC's controversial Panorama documentary, North Korea Undercover, attracted an average of more than 5 million viewers on Monday night. The storm of controversy surrounding Panorama journalist John Sweeney, who used a trip organised by the London School of Economics to infiltrate and film in the secretive nation, helped fuel bumper ratings for the BBC."

"Panorama: North Korea Undercover – TV review" – Sam Wollaston - The Guardian (UK)

How much does BBC reporter John Sweeney discover from inside the secretive state that isn't already known?


"'Journalists are all but banned from North Korea, so I'm going in undercover," says John Sweeney. I think he quite likes saying that. He is of course with a group of LSE students on a study trip, pretending to be a history teacher. He looks the part too. Don't forget they don't really have the internet in North Korea, so they won't have seen his famous Scientology rant on YouTube."

"BBC denies endangering students with undercover visit to North Korea" - The Guardian (UK)

Panorama reporter accompanied London School of Economics students to communist country to carry out secret filming


"The BBC has denied claims that it put students from a London university at risk when an undercover journalist accompanied them on a field trip to North Korea. John Sweeney, a reporter for the Panorama programme, is said to have joined the student group from the London School of Economics (LSE) on a visit to the communist country so he could carry out secret filming."

"BBC Tactics in Covering North Korea Are Faulted" - Ravi Somaiya - The New York Times


"As tensions escalated between North Korea and the world late last month, a small group of students from the prestigious London School of Economics crossed the border into the reclusive country for what was described by organizers as a government-sanctioned “week of sight seeing, meeting with ministers, government officials” and academics. But among the students, the university announced in an outraged statement over the weekend, were three BBC journalists filming an undercover documentary."

"23 year-old Homeless Woman Found Dead" – Ishimaru Jiro – Rimjin-gang – ASIAPRESS International


"A 23 year-old woman Rimjin-gang reporter Kim Dong-cheol previously interviewed was recently found dead in a field. Kim was conducting undercover reporting in South Pyongan Province in June 2010 when he met an emaciated, soot-blackened woman in the suburb of the city. With a weak voice, she told Kim she had recently lost her parents, her home, and had since been living in the streets. Kim couldn’t catch her name because of her weak voice."

"June 2010 South Pyongan Province" – Kim Dong-cheol – Rimjin-gang – ASIAPRESS International


"Undercover 'Journalism' in the DPRK" - Tad Farrell - North Korea News


"As most people are aware, Western journalists are not typically welcome in North Korea. The case of Euna Lee and Laura Ling last year was a good example of what can happen to those too eager for an NK scoop.  But that didn’t stop David McNeill of London’s ‘The Independent’ travelling to the DPRK just two weeks ago, ostensibly as a tourist attending the Pyongyang International Film Festival, but most likely there to try and cover the impeding Party Congress, initially rumoured to be starting around the same time.  He wasn’t the first reporter to enter the country on a tourist visa, and he won’t be the last.   But one thing is for sure, his front page story is a classic example of the hyperbolic and sensationalist approach to North Korea reporting that is standard in mainstream media -  a standard where fact-checking and normally rigid editorial standards go right out of the window."