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Chinese Media Group Censured for NK Documentary

Posted August. 31, 2009 07:33,   


Senior managers at a leading media group in China face dismissal due to North Korea’s anger over last month’s airing of a documentary showing the grim situation in the North, Hong Kong media reported yesterday.

The Documentary Channel, an affiliate of Shanghai Media Group, aired the five-part documentary series “Eyewitness” July 20-24 that was filmed on location in North Korea in early June.

North Korea filed a complaint with China through a diplomatic channel after the documentary was aired, saying the program focused on the dark side of North Korean society, the South China Morning Post said Saturday.

Accordingly, Chinese authorities summoned to Beijing early this month top managers from the media group, including its president Li Ruigang. They were questioned over how the documentary was produced and aired and issued stern warnings.

All news reports on the documentary have also been removed from Web sites in China.

The media conglomerate operates 13 TV and 11 radio channels and eight newspapers and magazines, and is China’s second-largest media company after CCTV. A group source said, “Rumors are circulating within the company that at the very least, senior managers responsible for the documentary will be fired.”

It is unclear which part of the documentary Pyongyang raised issue with. The five parts that were each 24-minutes long consisted of “A Trip to the 38th Parallel”; “Vibrant Arirang”; “Dear Leader’s Haven”; “150 Days of Combat”; and “Kim, the Sacred Sun.”

Using a diversity of angles, the documentary shed light on the dark reality of North Korea following its nuclear tests. Most parts showed and satirized the grave situation in the North by showing the unanimous response of North Koreans, “We live in heaven on earth,” when the best hospital in Pyongyang suffers from frequent power outages.

A producer of the documentary said in the program’s post-production comments, “North Korea’s ‘juche (self-reliance)’ ideology stresses that men are the masters of their own fate, but we wonder if North Koreans can really determine their own fates.”