Skip to Content

North Korea Deports Three BBC Journalists

Close up of North Korean flagPhotograph by Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Three BBC journalists have been kicked out of North Korea, reportedly because the secretive Asian nation took issue with one of the reporter’s coverage of the country’s leadership.

The New York Times reports BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was detained on Friday and questioned about his coverage. An Associated Press story claims Wingfield-Hayes’ coverage “spoke ill of the system and the leadership of the country.” A BBC producer and cameraman were also expelled on Monday.

The Times says that 100 foreign journalists were granted visas to cover a political gathering for North Korea’s Workers’ Party. But the journalists weren’t allowed to cover the event themselves. Instead, they had to rely on state-run news media that is filled with propaganda. Wingfield-Hayes previously reported he was frustrated by how difficult it was to report within the country.


North Korea has one of the most repressed media environments in the world, according to independent watchdog Freedom House. Much of the most recent propaganda by the state’s media has been to promote the leadership of leader Kim Jong-un, who has led North Korea since late 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong-il.

The spat between North Korea and the BBC isn’t the first time the Asian country has confronted journalists from the West. In a high-profile case, two U.S. journalists for Current TV were detained and imprisoned in 2009 for allegedly illegally entering North Korea on the China border. They were later freed after President Bill Clinton met with officials in Pyongyang.