Sunday, April 14, 2013

Anger at BBC Use of 'Human Shields' in North Korea

The London School of Economics has demanded that the BBC withdraw a television program in which an investigative reporter for the broadcaster is shown traveling to North Korea with a group of LSE students acting as his cover.

The British state broadcaster's 'Panorama' reporter John Sweeney posed as one of the LSE's PhD students on a university society trip in order to film undercover in the country.

On its website, the BBC said that Sweeney witnessed "a landscape bleak beyond words, a people brainwashed for three generations and a regime happy to give the impression of marching towards Armageddon". He then left the BBC's offices and traveled to North Korea where he encountered a similar environment.

While Sweeney said the students were told a journalist was with them, the LSE said that "It is LSE's view that the students were not given enough information enable informed consent, yet were given enough to put them in serious danger in the subterfuge had been uncovered". The LSE is a prestigious British university which typically educates the kind of political and business leaders whose subterfuge put the international economy in in danger during the global financial crisis, and as such there is some doubt as to its students' ability to make informed decisions, based on the precedents set by their predecessors.

While the BBC has tried to portray Sweeney's program as a 'shocking expose', it travels a path so well-worn by hundreds of other journalists before him that Pyongyang – which is desperate for foreign currency - was recently rumored to be considering starting tours for undercover journalists under a specially created state-run company called 'Shocking Expose Tours'.

However, North Korea was ironically forced to cancel the plan after it emerged earlier this year that a number of BBC stars had allegedly abused children over several decades on its premises while staff turned a blind eye, and that as a consequence the 'shocking expose tours' brand has instead recently become synonymous with public visits to the rogue state broadcaster.

The BBC's investigative journalists meanwhile were said to have been unaware of what was sometimes happening just down the corridor from them during the period in which the abuse allegedly took place, and the scandal was eventually publicized in a program by ITV – the BBC's main rival in England, after the rigidly controlled state broadcaster failed to successfully suppress the story. The BBC – having failed to investigate its own secrets - was said to be hopeful it would have better luck exposing the North Korean regime's secrets on official tours which are organized and rigidly controlled by Pyongyang.

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