The Associated Press (AP) has opened a news bureau in Pyongyang, North Korea, making it the only international news organization with a full-time staff covering the Hermit Kingdom.
But it is unclear whether AP journalists will have much freedom to actually cover the isolated country. North Korea is notoriously off-limits for foreign journalists, and many journalists have had to sneak into the country by posing as tourists with different occupations.
Foreign tourists and journalists alike are only allowed to travel in North Korea in strictly limited tour groups, to designated locations and always in the company of two North Korean minders.
The AP said it would have a team filing stories, photos and videos from North Korea. The bureau will be staffed by two North Koreans, reporter Pak Won Il and photographer Kim Kwang Hyon.
The announcement comes less than a month after the death of Kim Jong Il, and follows a year of discussions, the AP said.
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The AP's CEO Tom Curley and a team of top editors inaugurated the office, which is located inside the headquarters of the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in central Pyongyang, the AP said.
“We pledge to do our best to reflect accurately the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as well as what they do and say," Curley said, using the official name for the country.
The AP opened a video bureau in Pyongyang in 2006, but now writers and photographers will also be allowed to travel to North Korea on a regular basis.
The bureau will be supervised by Korea Bureau Chief Jean H. Lee and Chief Asia Photographer David Guttenfelder, both Americans, who are not based in Pyongyang but will travel there regularly, the AP said.
North Korea's main Communist newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, last week launched an English-language website, intending to boost its online presence.
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