News agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) is planning to open a bureau in North Korea, becoming one of the few western media outlets to operate out of the reclusive country. AFP Chairman Emmanuel Hoog, revealed the plans for a Pyongyang office during a meeting Wednesday with Park No-hwang (R), president and CEO of South Korean Yonhap News Agency.
The first western media outlet to open a Pyongyang office was the New York-based Associated Press, in January 2012, inside the headquarters of the state-run Korean Central News Agency. Before that, in 2006, Japanese news agency Kyodo news started operations from North Korea. China’s state-run news agency Xinhua and Russian news outlet Itar-Tass also operate from the country led by Kim Jong Un, Yonhap reported.
"We're working on the opening of the bureau in Pyongyang ... We expect to be able to do so in the next few months. It's something that is on the good tracks," Hoog said, according to Yonhap, adding that the exact timing was unknown, but would not be “too long.”
Hoog added that the office will allow AFP to provide fresh news from North Korea, which currently faces sanctions over its nuclear and missile tests. The country has also been criticized by the United Nations over its human rights violations, which it vehemently refutes.
On Saturday, a representative for North Korea's foreign ministry threatened the U.S. with "tougher countermeasures" over the publication of the State Department's annual report on global human rights that criticized Pyongyang.
"The U.S. is dreaming a foolish dream that any 'change' would take place in the DPRK [the acronym for North Korea's official name]," the representative said, adding: "The world will clearly see how the DPRK will smash the U.S. moves for isolating and stifling it."
The country shares a prickly relationship with Western nations due to the economic sanctions and has even threatened to attack the U.S.