Reporters decry North’s actions

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Reporters decry North’s actions

A group of South Korean journalists issued a statement Tuesday condemning North Korea authorities for what they say was the regime’s attempts to meddle in reporters’ coverage of this month’s inter-Korean family reunions.

In the statement, signed by 38 journalists, the reporters criticized North Korean authorities for a series of actions they took against the South Korean journalists assigned to cover the event.

That included seizing laptops brought across the border by the reporters for inspection, which the officials claimed they needed to check to verify that they contained no materials critical of the Communist regime.

“On Oct. 20, North Korea seized all the laptops from a pool of reporters from the South,” the statement said. “Not only did officials look into them, but they confiscated a number of laptops and returned them the next day.”

Such actions, the group said, was unprecedented and unjustly interfered with the mission to cover the event. The moves last week were clearly an attempt by the North Korean government to obstruct the freedom of the South Korean press, they added.

The statement came a week after North Korean officials demanded at the border checkpoint on Oct. 20, to see all laptops and thumb drives brought by the South Korean journalists who were crossing into the country to cover the reunions.

Following the inspection, the Communist officials raised issue with three laptops, alleging they contained harmful information ? a claim the South Korean pool of journalists saw as unfounded.

The statement also took an aim at the North’s demand to review video footage taken of the reunions, which the group said led to delays in broadcasting the event in the South.

The country’s behavior baffled the reporters, most of whom are seasoned journalists and familiar with the regime’s unpredictable nature. The moves were seen as an attempt by Pyongyang to arbitrarily pressure South Korean media.

The journalists also made it clear that they would not remain silent if the North tried to interfere with their work again and noted they had refrained from raising the issue publicly during the reunions for the sake of inter-Korean relations.

Pyongyang is sensitive to media reports from the South, particularly those critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The country has previously gone so far as to name certain reporters in its state-run media who have penned stories deemed critical and sent out warnings.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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