Thursday, June 30, 2011

Associated Press bureau... in Pyongyang?!

That's what AP is reporting, and I guess they'd be the ones that'd know.

From AP via WaPo:
A memorandum of understanding agreed by the AP and the Korean Central News Agency would expand the AP’s presence in North Korea to a level unmatched by any other Western news organization. It would build upon the AP’s existing video news bureau, which opened in Pyongyang in 2006, by allowing AP text and photo journalists to work in North Korea as well.

With the signing, the agencies agreed to begin work immediately on detailed planning needed to set up and operate the new bureau as quickly as possible. It would be the first permanent text and photo bureau operated by a Western news organization in the North Korean capital.

In addition, the agencies signed a contract designating the AP as the exclusive international distributor of contemporary and historic video from KCNA’s archive. The agencies also plan a joint photo exhibition in New York next year. They already had an agreement between them to distribute KCNA photo archives to the global market, signed earlier this year.
Wow. That is truly historic. That is, if it actually comes to pass. There are a lot of rest stops between Point MOU and Point B when it comes to North Korea. The DRPK government may easily decide there's a huge difference between fluff videos of people visiting Kim Ilsung statues, which they started to allow in 2006, and day-to-day reporting on the good and the bad, which is presumably what AP has in mind.

But imagine it does go ahead. This is AP reporting form Pyongyang. And while we all know that the North Korean capital is a showcase for foreign eyes, the Pyongyang regime can't control everything, nor are they wholly effective when it comes to keeping the contagion of foreign ideas in check.

What we might end up actually seeing is the North Korean government actually trying to be on better behavior when things go wrong (and it's not a stretch that they could). Right now we've been seeing the Jasmine Revolution spreading through the Arab world, and at least one thing preventing some of those governments from just mowing down all the protesters (this includes Iran last year, though Iran is not part of the Arab world) has been the international press.

Call me optimistic, but this makes a violent, bloody end to the regime less likely (though still well within the realm of possibility). It makes the future leader of North Korea, be that a ruling junta or The Kim Who Wasn't There, more likely to consider how everything looks to the outside world when taking power, maintaining order, and dealing with the hoi polloi.

Historic, truly historic. If it happens.

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