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Pyongyang issues guidelines to reporters

Document threatens 5 to 10 years of hard labor for infractions
Sept 08,2018
Foreign journalists who went to Pyongyang this week to cover the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding received media guidelines from North Korean officials on Thursday that described the dos and don’ts while covering the celebration, NK News reported.

The document, titled “Regulations for the activities by foreign journalists in the territory of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” dates back to two years ago and warns against “distorting the realities” of the country, according to NK News. It cites hard labor as a possible outcome of violating the North’s criminal code.

NK News reported that North Korean officials did not request the correspondents sign the document, suggesting it was handed out as a reference.

North Korea is scheduled to hold a massive military parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Sunday. Foreign outlets, including NK News, have been allowed to cover it.

The guidelines, according to NK News, recommend reporters “promote the development of relations” between the North and other countries and “respect the manners and customs of the Korean people.”

The punishment for “serious acts of propaganda against the state” is no less than five years of “reform through labor” and no more than 10 years in the event of serious infractions, NK News reported.

One line of the document says acts of “political fraud” can be punished with “training through labor” for no more than a year, according to the outlet.

NK News said its reporters who visited Pyongyang for last year’s April 15th Day of the Sun, the birthday of state founder Kim Il Sung, were not given a set of guidelines or similar rules during their five-day stay.

About 130 foreign correspondents are expected to report from the North Korean capital this weekend. On Thursday morning, a group of American journalists was reportedly escorted to visit the birthplace of Kim Il Sung before touring the Pyongyang subway system, NK News reported.

They were also taken to the Arch of Triumph, a landmark in Pyongyang built to commemorate Kim Il Sung’s anti-Japanese activities during Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula in the early 20th century, and the Mansudae Art Studio, which churns out North Korean propaganda, according to NK News.

South Korean authorities believe the North has been preparing for the military parade since July, even as it was negotiating a denuclearization deal with the United States. Precisely how large the parade will be is unclear.

Also unknown is whether the North will display any intercontinental ballistic missiles as it has in the past to show its aggression toward the United States.

The last time North Korea held a military parade was on Feb. 8, on the eve of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and it featured Hwasong-12, 14 and 15 missiles, which all have reported intercontinental range.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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