BBC trio expelled for ‘insulting the dignity’ of North Korea

North Korea has expelled three BBC journalists — including an Irishwoman — it had detained days earlier for “insulting the dignity” of the authoritarian country.

Correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team had been scheduled to leave on Friday after accompanying a group of Nobel laureates on a North Korea trip.

Instead, the journalists were stopped at the airport, detained and questioned.

O Ryong Il, secretary-general of the North’s National Peace Committee, said Mr Wingfield-Hayes’ news coverage distorted facts and “spoke ill of the system and leadership of the country”.

He said Mr Wingfield-Hayes wrote an apology, was being expelled, and would never be admitted into the country again.

The BBC said Mr Wingfield-Hayes’ producer, Maria Byrne, from Co Carlow, and cameraman Matthew Goddard were also expelled.

“We are very disappointed our reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team have been deported after the government took offence at material he filed,” the BBC said. 

“Four BBC staff, who were invited to cover the Workers Party Congress, remain in North Korea and we expect them to be allowed to continue their reporting.”

More than 100 foreign journalists are in the capital for North Korea’s first party congress in 36 years, though they have largely been prevented from covering proceedings and its 3,400 delegates.


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