Newspaper article International New York Times

North Korea Expels Team of BBC Reporters ; Invited to Cover Congress, Crew Is Accused of Failing to Show Sufficient Respect

Newspaper article International New York Times

North Korea Expels Team of BBC Reporters ; Invited to Cover Congress, Crew Is Accused of Failing to Show Sufficient Respect

Article excerpt

A BBC reporting crew was detained and expelled for what North Korea deemed a disrespectful portrayal of the country and its leader.

North Korea expelled a BBC reporting crew on Monday for what it deemed a disrespectful portrayal of the country and its leader, Kim Jong-un, as Mr. Kim used a rare Workers' Party congress to cement his totalitarian grip on power.

Over 100 foreign journalists were granted visas to visit North Korea for the duration of the seventh congress of the Workers' Party, the first such political gathering in 36 years. But the authorities there blocked the journalists from covering the event, forcing them to rely on the state-run, propaganda-filled domestic news media to glean details of the meeting.

The BBC reported that its correspondent, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, who had arrived with a delegation of Nobel laureates before the congress, was detained on Friday and questioned for eight hours before being made to sign a statement.

O Ryong Il, the secretary general of the National Peace Committee in North Korea, said Mr. Wingfield-Hayes's coverage had distorted facts and "spoke ill of the system and the leadership of the country," The Associated Press reported.

A producer, Maria Byrne, and a cameraman, Matthew Goddard, were also being expelled on Monday, the BBC said. They, along with Mr. Wingfield-Hayes, were stopped on Friday as the three were trying to leave the country.

The congress reconfirmed Kim Jong-un as its supreme leader after he called for a more vigorous development of nuclear weapons and missiles, state-run news media reported on Monday.

Mr. Kim, the third-generation leader in his family's dynastic rule of North Korea, had been widely expected to use the congress to tighten his control of the country and have his crucial policies, including the so-called byungjin policy of increasing a nuclear arsenal while rebuilding the economy, adopted as official party lines.

"The Workers' Party of Korea will hold our dear Kim Jong-un in high esteem at the top post of the Juche revolution," said a decision that more than 3,400 delegates to the congress unanimously adopted on Sunday, the third day of the meeting. Juche, or self- reliance, is the name of North Korea's ruling ideology.

The congress -- in theory, the North's highest decision-making body -- called Mr. Kim "the supreme leader of our party, state and military." Its lengthy document was carried by the official party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, on Monday, the last day of the congress.

Mr. Kim has ruled North Korea since his father, Kim Jong-il, died in 2011. He already holds top posts in the military and government. In 2012, he created a new top party title, first secretary, for himself after making his father the permanent general secretary of the party. It remained unclear whether Mr. Kim would be reconfirmed as first secretary or create a new title when the party's charter is revised this week.

Outside analysts who had hoped that Mr. …

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