Friday, September 25, 2009

No pleasantries from the peasantry

The Los Angeles Times has an article about the most recent edition of Rimjingang (림진강/臨津江), a magazine on North Korea published in Japan, which will feature inside stories — literally — from people actually inside North Korea:
The images will soon be featured in an issue of Rimjingang, a magazine published in Japan that offers a highly intimate look inside North Korea. What makes it all the more remarkable is that the quarterly publication consists of articles written not by outsiders, but by a few North Koreans, farmers and factory workers who risk their lives to provide poignant vignettes and hard-news accounts of life in their reclusive homeland.

The stakes are high. The reporters use pseudonyms because they know that if they are caught by North Korean authorities, they could be sent to prison or executed as spies.

Named by the magazine's reporters after a river that flows across the border from north to south, Rimjingang features everyday scenes of people's lives, from mammoth Pyongyang to the smallest villages. Since the magazine was launched in 2007, the tiny staff of reporters has delivered scoop after scoop.

Their cameras peek inside an illegal market where hungry children scavenge food from the ground. They offer images of a busy bus terminal patrolled by soldiers, a North Korean prison and a town where even children are put to work in a coal mine.

"I'm proud of these reporters," said Ishimaru, 37, editor of Rimjingang. "I'm committed to help them deliver a message to the world that they are risking their lives to report."
Amazing stuff, really. And makes the kind of thing that Laura Ling, Mitch Koss, and Euna Lee were supposedly doing pale in comparison. And speaking of the Tri-dumb-virate:
Not every reporter makes it. Some quit after experiencing the perils of reporting their stories and spiriting them out of the country.

Ishimaru travels to the border between China and North Korea to meet with staff members as they arrive to report their findings. He says the reporters' trips are always dangerous, but more so now since the two American journalists were taken into custody.
Nice. Oh, and DailyNK gets a mention:
Rimjingang has impressed Sohn Kwang-joo, chief editor of the Daily NK, a website reporting on North Korea from the outside.

"This is a magazine where North Koreans are the main characters," he said. "The regime does not want the world to hear their voices. But in Rimjingang, their lives and voices meld."
Go, Sohn. Great blog ("the hub of North Korean news"), by the way.


  1. Too bad, in that sentence, that the reporter did not specify exactly what Ishimaru means by it being more dangerous for his NK reporters.

    Because it is already a death wish to travel to the NK-China border from within Hermit Kingdom, does he mean more patrols at border, bigger crackdown on ugly truth reporting. Not sure.

  2. You make a very good point.

    I doubt, however, that he would be able to be at all forthcoming (assuming what he is saying is close to the truth) since doing so could easily jeopardize "the people's press."


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