THE North Korean government has expelled a BBC journalist and his team for reporting on leader Kim Jong-Un in a “disrespectful” manner, the news broadcaster has confirmed.
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, 49, was in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang ahead of the Seventh Congress of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party, accompanying a delegation of Nobel prize laureates who were there conducting a research trip.
The BBC team were at the airport about to board a plane out of the country when they were detained. Wingfield-Hayes, BBC producer Maria Byrne, and cameraman Matthew Goddard were detained for questioning for eight hours before being released.
Authorities held a press conference today to announce the three would be expelled from the country, saying they had “insulted the country’s dignity”.
According to the BBC, North Korean authorities were offended by “disrespectful” reports filed by Wingfield-Hayes last week.
China’s Xinhua news agency said that Wingfield-Hayes was being expelled for “attacking the DPRK system and non-objective reporting”.
Secretary general of the North’s National Peace Committee, O Ryong Il, reportedly said the journalist had distorted facts in his coverage and “spoke ill of the system and the leadership of the country”.
Authorities made Wingfield-Hayes sign a statement after his eight hours of questioning, and say he will never be allowed into the country again.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 9, 2016
The BBC believes a statement that the Tokyo correspondent made in a report filed about the Nobel prize laureates offended the North Korean government.
Is his report, Wingfield-Hayes said: “What exactly he’s done to deserve the title Marshal is hard to say. On state TV the young ruler seems to spend a lot of time sitting in a large chair watching artillery firing at mountainsides.”
The Guardian also reported that officials were “unhappy” about Wingfield-Hayes’ coverage of a visit to a children’s hospital in Pyongyang.
He remarked the child patients appeared “remarkably well, and there isn’t a real doctor in sight”. He noted that everything appeared to be “a set-up”.
A BBC source told the Guardian that Wingfield-Hayes is safe and had been in touch with his team members during his detention.