Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 33 n° 335

North Korea’s ‘black box’

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 1 marzo 2019

By Jon Allsop. Yesterday, following the premature collapse of his nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, President Trump, addressing reporters in Hanoi, said he walked because North Korea wanted full sanctions relief in exchange for partial denuclearization. It was a concession, Trump said, that the United States could not make. Later in the day, at a rare news conference, Ri Yong-ho, North Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, denied Trump’s account, saying that his country asked only for a partial lifting of sanctions. In America, commentators argued over why Trump’s strategy failed, and whether he was right to bail. In North Korea, there was no such debate. State media glossed right over the collapse of the summit, describing it as an event of “great significance” that furthered “mutual respect and trust.”Since Trump entered office, US relations with North Korea have swung between extreme hostility and unlikely rapprochement. In two meetings with Kim, Trump has broken diplomatic ground. Yet the international reporters covering North Korea have little idea what Kim’s regime is really thinking, or—at moments like this one—what it might do next. At this week’s summit, Kim, for the first time ever, took questions from Western reporters; his answers were short and terse, though they were symbolically important, and offered some (albeit limited) insight into the situation. But now that the summit is over, the normal silence will resume.The information climate of North Korea is dire. For the past two years, Reporters Without Borders has ranked it the worst country in the world for press freedom. The state controls the internet; citizens caught accessing foreign media are sometimes sent to concentration camps. The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse have established bureaus in the country, in conjunction with state media, yet foreign reporters are tightly controlled. Before the summit, Andrew McCormick, my CJR colleague, spoke with journalists about their experiences covering North Korea. Several of them described it as “a black box.” The constant challenge, Simon Denyer, Tokyo bureau chief for The Washington Post, said, was resisting the temptation to provide complete narratives and limiting oneself to what is actually knowable.In the absence of reliable sources, reporters, as well as academics and other experts, have had to get creative. In 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that American scholars in Seoul fed North Korean state media through a high-powered mathematical engine for clues about the regime’s plans. Doug Bock Clark wrote for The New Yorker that advances in commercial satellite photography have allowed civilian think tanks to source their own imaging of North Korea’s nuclear sites. A month after Trump and Kim’s first summit, in Singapore, Joby Warrick, a Post reporter, turned to the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies to verify a tip from an intelligence source. Analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and 38 North, a news-site-think-tank hybrid with a roster of high-powered experts, has been widely cited in the press.These sourcing workarounds have been useful in challenging the Trump administration’s official narrative that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. With talks now collapsed, the value of such sleuthing is even higher. But satellite cameras can only see Kim’s test sites, not inside his head. (font: CJR Editors)

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