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North Korea allows in CNN, Japanese journalists

Apr 11,2017
이미지뷰
North Korean soldiers perform a military parade in front of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on Monday in celebration of North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday on April 15. [YONHAP]
A group of Japanese reporters arrived in Pyongyang Monday at the invitation of the North Korean government to cover a meeting of the parliament and the 105th birth anniversary of late founder Kim Il Sung, sources in Japan told the JoongAng Ilbo Tuesday.

The reporters flew through China and will return to Japan next Tuesday, spending a total of nine days there, said a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

North Korea’s latest parliamentary meeting, held Tuesday for the first time in nearly nine months, was expected to decide the country’s annual budget plans and pronounce major decisions by leader Kim Jong-un. The meeting’s outcome was unknown as of press time.
The 105th anniversary of the leader’s grandfather Kim Il Sung falls this Saturday.

The Japanese reporters’ itinerary is not known, but another source who is familiar with their trip said North Korea might try to escort them to the most modern districts in the capital to show that its country is unfazed by international sanctions.

When the South Korean women’s national football team visited Pyongyang last week to play in the Asia qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, they were offered a tour around downtown Pyongyang, but refused.

It’s not the first time North Korea invited foreign journalists to cover its state affairs. In May 2016, more than 100 foreign journalists were invited to cover a congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, but only 30 were allowed briefly into the parliamentary building, the first time the foreign press was ever brought in.

The AP reported at that time that “[North Korean] officials have kept the foreign media busy with trips around Pyongyang to show them places North Korea wants them to see.”

A PR official at South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korea relations, said local authorities had no knowledge of exactly how many foreign journalists were invited by the North to cover this week’s events.

Will Ripley, a correspondent for CNN, wrote on his Facebook page last Sunday that he had arrived in Pyongyang. “NK grants our visas,” Ripley wrote Tuesday on his Twitter account when asked by someone how he received authorization. “We are always supervised outside the hotel but editorially independent. They don’t screen video, scripts, edits, lives.”

A South Korean government official said on the condition of anonymity that North Korea might unveil a new ballistic missile Saturday during a military parade.

“We can’t eliminate the chances of a sixth nuclear experiment this week, but there’s a higher possibility North Korea might fire a missile or show new weapons never revealed before,” said the official.

The Korean Central News Agency, North’s state-run media, reported Tuesday that a military ceremony was held at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun Monday to pay “high tribute” to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-il, and “vow to remain loyal” to Kim Jong-un on the occasion of the Day of the Sun, Kim Il Sung’s birthday.

The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is where the bodies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father, lie.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]