“I compromised the LSE and my tour guides, and all I could produce was a lousy tourist video,” would be a suitable slogan for the T-shirt of tonight’s BBC Panorama programme. OK, so they also interviewed BR Myers, John Everard and a defector or two, but really it was not worth all the hype and told us nothing new. If you’re in the UK, watch it for yourself on iPlayer.
For the record, in case it ever is removed from the BBC website, here’s the information about the half-hour programme:
Panorama: North Korea Undercover
While North Korea’s ‘Supreme Commander’ Kim Jong-Un has been threatening thermo-nuclear war against the United States, Panorama reporter John Sweeney spent eight days undercover inside the most rigidly-controlled nation on Earth.
Travelling from the capital Pyongyang to the countryside beyond and to the de-Militarised Zone on the border with South Korea, Sweeney witnesses a landscape bleak beyond words, a people brainwashed for three generations and a regime happy to give the impression of marching towards Armageddon.
- NKNews.org: Undercover in North Korea: Making it harder for serious researchers to do their job.
- The discussion thread on the Korean Studies portal
- The BBC gives loads of time to their own Ceri Thomas, and not much time to Aidan Foster-Carter, on the Media Show.
- Academics condemn undercover filming in North Korea – a who’s who of Korean Studies academics write to The Guardian, 18 April
- Nutter in North Korea Endangers World, Private Eye, 19 April (see cartoon below)
- Anger at BBC Use of ‘Human Shields’ in North Korea, Dokdo Times, 14 April
- Debunking Panorama Paranoia: North Korea Tour Leader Simon Cockerell, The Diplomat, 25 April
Update: the book of the documentary, North Korea Undercover, is out in November 2013.
Update 2: BBC Apologizes Over Undercover Trip to North Korea, Wall Street Journal Asia, 18 March 2014