KBS reporters trespass on North envoy’s house

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KBS reporters trespass on North envoy’s house

Two South Korean journalists were detained in Singapore after allegedly trespassing on the grounds of the North Korean ambassador’s residence on Thursday, according to Seoul’s presidential office. The Blue House advised the press covering the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore to show some restraint in their reporting zeal.

The reporters under arrest, aged 42 and 45, work for the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), and were not accredited in Singapore, according to a news release by the Singapore police on Friday. Two other South Koreans, another 31-year-old KBS employee and a 29-year-old guide and interpreter, are also under investigation.

The security detail at the North Korean ambassador’s house on Joo Chiat Lane, where the North’s embassy was formerly located before moving to downtown Singapore, detained the reporters and then informed the Singapore police, who took them into custody.

“Members of the media who commit any offence in Singapore will also not be accredited and thus will not be able to cover the summit between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” said the Singapore police, using the official name for North Korea.

The Blue House commented on the matter on Friday morning in a briefing by spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom, who expressed the South Korean government’s concern over the journalists’ behavior.

“The issue was discussed in earnest during the Blue House’s agenda meeting and the morning tea time session with President Moon Jae-in,” Kim said. “There was agreement that we had to advise strong caution.”

With only four days remaining until the much-anticipated summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump set for June 12, the Blue House expressed concern that incidents like these may cause problems for the summit, which is now back on track after a tumultuous lead-up.

The unprecedented meeting between the leaders of two adversarial states has sparked an international media frenzy and journalists from around the world have been competing fiercely for a better perch to cover the event.

Moon’s joining the summit to announce a three-party agreement to formally end the Korean War - which concluded in 1953 with a ceasefire - remains a possibility and the Blue House wants to avoid any diplomatic friction.

“Our government will do its utmost diplomatically [in a case like this], but there will be cases that cannot be resolved,” Kim said. “There will be no taking it back if physical harm is done, however.”

Kim added that there were additional cases in which journalists were detained by the local police in Singapore. The main reason was filming in prohibited areas.

“We hold no administrative authority in Singapore and we have no idea what problems may occur in the midst of such a unique occasion when the leaders of North Korea and the United States meet,” the spokesman stressed. “The White House’s security detail is particularly strict, and we caution that an excessive appetite for coverage may precipitate unforeseen accidents.”

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]
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