South Korea’s state-funded Yonhap News Agency is planning to open a bureau in North Korea, a company official confirmed to NK News on Friday. A formal proposal for bureau already submitted to North Korea’s KCNA, reports Yonhap.Son You-min of Yonhap’s Global Strategy Team confirmed the company’s plans to open a bureau in the DPRK capital following an indirect announcement at an event Friday hosted by the news agency while adding they could not provide further details as it is an “ongoing project.”
A Yonhap article following the event provided further details, however, saying the company had begun plans for a “unification media research institute” in April.
The article also said Yonhap has presented an official proposal for their planned Pyongyang bureau to North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) through intermediaries in Beijing.
A timeline for the bureau’s opening, however, remains unclear.
ROK Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said during the Korean Peninsula Peace Symposium co-hosted by Yonhap and the Ministry of Unification (MOU) on Friday that he “looks forward” to the plans, which he said he understood to include preparations for the unification media research institute in addition to the bureau.
Prime Minister Lee added that he anticipated “the day when Yonhap News Agency jointly plans and reports with North Korea’s leading news agency.”
South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon also expressed support for the new bureau plans at the event.
“North and South Korean journalists can lead developing inter-Korean relations through quick and clear communication” facilitated through these exchanges, Cho said.
Seoul “will actively lend support” to the plans, he added.
The tagline for the symposium was, “Push Open the Door of Peace, Move Beyond Denuclearization and Strive for Co-Prosperity.”
A handful of international news organizations already maintain bureaus inside North Korea, including Agence-France Press (AFP) and the Associated Press (AP).
These arrangements have not been without controversy: the Pyongyang bureau of Japan’s Kyodo News Agency was last year accused of violating Japanese and international sanctions for its activities in the DPRK and its methods for paying for their operations – claims it denied.
The AP, too, was revealed in a 2014 NK News investigation to have potentially agreed to guidelines that gave the North Korean authorities significant control over what the bureau could publish.
State-run agencies TASS out of Russia and Xinhua from China also from within Pyongyang, though details remain scarce on their arrangements.
Edited by Oliver Hotham – NK News