Correspondent Wouter Zwart of Dutch public broadcaster NOS was granted permission to report via a satellite link from reclusive North Korea. Mr Zwart, his cameraman and some other foreign correspondents applied for visa at the Stalinist state's China embassy, and were allowed into the country shortly afterwards. His report was aired on Dutch TV on Saturday evening.
It is not clear why the North Koreans appear to be opening up to Western media. NOS reported from Pyongyang that a military parade was held to celebrate 65 years of communist rule which was observed by the current head of state Kim Jong-il and his son and likely successor Kim Jong-un. The latter came into the limelight earlier this month when he was promoted to the rank of general at the communist party congress, seen as a certain indication that he will take over from his ailing father in the near future.
The international reporters were faced with severe communication problems in North Korea. Telephone links to the outside world were only available from the journalists' hotel, at astronomic rates. The reporters could not take incoming calls. Associated Press Television News helped the Western correspondents to establish contact with the outside world.
"There are not enough government minders to keep an eye on the reporters," Wouter Zwart told Dutch TV viewers. The North Korean authorities appear to have been overwhelmed by the number of journalists having been given visas by the Beijing embassy.
One reporter, Melissa K. Chan, is sending tweets from Pyongyang via her Twitter account. "But other than Skyping and tweeting out of North Korea, journalists have not had much chance to actually... do journalism," she wrote on Sunday midday, Korean time.
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