AP opens first full-time, all-format news bureau in North Korea

Jan. 16, 2012
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The Associated Press on Monday formally opened a news bureau in Pyongyang, becoming the first news organization to operate a text and photo bureau with full-time staff in North Korea. 

Working with its video newsgathering arm, London-based Associated Press Television News (APTN), which established an office in North Korea six years ago, AP is now positioned as the first news agency to offer coverage from the region in all formats.

"After fruitful discussions with the Korea Central News Agency over a number of months, AP is thrilled by this historic opportunity to provide coverage from North Korea for our global audience,” said AP President and CEO

Tom Curley. “Even in AP’s storied history of 166 years, this bureau represents a remarkable milestone and reminds us of the enormous value of being seen as the world’s definitive source for news.”

In remarks prepared for delivery at a Monday evening celebration of the bureau’s opening, Kim Pyong Ho, president of KCNA, said: “Even though our two countries do not have normalized relations, we have been able to find a way to understand one another and to cooperate closely enough to open an AP bureau here in Pyongyang as we have today.”

He added: “We are confident that the Pyongyang bureau will contribute to the improvement of relations between our two countries and to our understanding of one another by serving as AP’s base for reporting objectively and without bias on the thriving nation we are building, our country's customs, culture and history, and important events in our country.”

AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said: “The AP operates independently in each of our 300 locations around the world. Our journalists all have the same goal -- to understand a place, its people and its institutions; to show daily life as well as official functions. We ask questions, seek the interviews and images that help us tell stories. We do not submit to censorship.”

AP Korea Bureau Chief Jean H. Lee and Chief Asia Photographer David Guttenfelder, who have made frequent reporting trips to North Korea since 2010, will oversee staff in the Pyongyang bureau. (See AP’s “North Korea Journal” at http://apne.ws/AFv8zU)

Curley led an AP delegation to Pyongyang for Monday’s bureau opening that includes Carroll and John Daniszewski, AP's senior managing editor for international news and photos.

The unveiling comes after AP announced last June that it would begin discussions with KCNA toward opening a bureau in Pyongyang and cooperate on journalistic and photo/video technology issues, including a joint photo exhibition by the two agencies in New York this year.

In September, AP announced an exclusive deal between APTN and North Korean state broadcaster KRT and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to provide video news coverage in high definition to international broadcasters from the country.

Under the deal, APTN will be the only agency to transmit its own broadcast-quality HD pictures of key news events in North Korea.

The bureau and HD capabilities have been established ahead of this year’s series of major events during which North Korea is expected to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the communist state.

The AP operates from 300 locations in more than 100 countries.

About The AP
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the largest and most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP.

AP contacts:

Paul Colford, Director of AP Media Relations, pcolford@ap.org, 212.621.1895
Jack Stokes, Manager of AP Media Relations, jstokes@ap.org, 212-621-1730

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