The Boys From North Korea


This may have been mentioned in the comments somewhere but I think it is so extraordinary that it merits a wider audience….

This is John Sweeney trying to defend his actions (and failing):

North Korea is….‘A state that is more like Hitler’s Germany than any other state in the world, It is extraordinarily scary, dark and evil….. We maintain all of the students were aware of the risk.’



Here is the official voice of the BBC:

Defending the decision, BBC News head of programmes Ceri Thomas said: “This is an important piece of public interest journalism.” Asked whether that justified putting student lives at risk, he replied: “We think it does.”




Isn’t that just mindboggling?  A state so evil it is like Hitler’s Germany…and they think a news story is worth putting, not just journalist’s lives at risk but students also.


Sweeney said they were aware of the risk…I would dispute that….anyone who knows human nature will know that they will have been excited to be going on the trip, they wouldn’t want to miss it, they are young and blase, possibly even slightly gung ho and caught up in the ‘romance and adventure’ of being part of an ‘undercover operation’.

They will probably have dismissed and ignored the reality of the risks and agreed to participate.


I would suggest that John Sweeney took advantage of human nature and knowingly put those students at risk for his own ends….the students had nothing to gain but everything to lose.

 We already knew a fair amount about what goes on in North Korea, a lot from the ‘horse’s mouth’ so to speak…from actual Korean defectors.

So you might ask what was so important that John Sweeney thought he could learn himself that was worth putting other lives at risk.

No doubt many people will be watching Panorama tonight with interest to see if Sweeney has dug up any new and significant discoveries to merit the risks….or was it just a journalsitic vanity project…’something big’ that would look good on the CV of an intrepid investigative reporter?

Remember, as comments on the previous post have mentioned, this is a BBC that tackles Big Business for ‘exploiting’ the young…only recently reporting on the ‘plight’ of unpaid interns…and not forgetting how the BBC blasted G4S during the Olympics because some employees had to wait under a bridge for a couple of hours before being picked up.


As for Sweeney determinedly labelling North Korea a ‘Nazi’ state, well can’t argue with that….as there is little difference between Communism and Nazism..both being based on socialism.

Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to The Boys From North Korea

  1. David says:

    I heard the “interview”. In summary, the BBC’s view is that the end justifies the means.


  2. Alan says:

    I suppose you are writing this from your covert observation post in Syria are you?
    Nothing anonymous about you Frank….you use so many names it’s hard to keep up.

    But thanks for adding to the ‘non’ debate in your usual informative and interesting manner.


    • London Calling says:

      Check IP address for Salford.


      • Alan says:

        ‘Frank’….A wannabe/hasbeen journo?
        Posted as ‘Gonzo’ previously…must have pretensions of being Hunter S Thompson.

        Assume Nicked Emus has risen, er phoenix like, from the ashes.


  3. Phil Ford says:

    “…As for Sweeney determinedly labelling North Korea a ‘Nazi’ state, well can’t argue with that….as there is little difference between Communism and Nazism..both being based on socialism.”

    Yes, this is such an important point, Alan. Sweeny’s very selective use of Nazism with which to describe the North Korean regime is typical of the delusional left within the BBC, equating, as they always do, any political evil with (erroneous) allusions to Nazism, whilst consciously omitting to mention anything so inconvenient as Stalinist genocide.

    Still, this doesn’t explain why Sweeny would have chosen Nazism when attempting to describe North Korea’s hateful totalitarianism – I mean, surely the most obvious comparisons are Mao’s Red China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia or Stalin’s Soviet Russia..? Hmm. What do those three have in common with North Korea, I wonder?

    So why Nazism, Mr Sweeny? But, then we know, don’t we? It just isn’t in the vocabulary or reasoning capabilities of the average Beeboid reporter drone to equate present day communist totalitarianism in North Korea with any example of past socialist crimes against humanity. The swastika is the BBC’s ‘go-to’ exemplar of brutish, authoritarian rule (to the apparent exclusion of all others).

    This works the same way as Muslim child rapists being described by the BBC, always, as ‘Asians’. It’s called ‘nudging’. If you do it often enough, and consistently enough, the proletariat eventually forget to think for themselves. Orwell must be turning in his grave.


    • Richard Pinder says:

      I think that the North Korean propaganda culture was learnt by North Korean students in Soviet Socialist Russia in the late Stalinist era.

      It shows in the Stalinist era military dress and marching style, which is different from the German Nazi era military dress and marching style.

      But both Nazi Germany and Communist North Korea where socialist regimes, but it does seem that the standard of living for non-Jewish Germans was far better than it is for modern day Koreans in North Korea.


  4. Smell the glove says:

    They are not a Nazi state .As far as I can see, they do not engage in any ethnic cleansing, or otherwise. No they are a Communist state, more attuned to Soviet Russia. Or is that too near the bone?


    • Andy S. says:

      Seem to recall Stalin did his share of “ethnic cleansing”. Tell me again, “smelly glove” , how many Kulaks died as a result of Uncle Joe’s deliberate starvation policies? Then of course, he also tried to wipe out the “White” Russians as well. I also seem to recall Chairman Mao was responsible for killing millions of ethnic Chinese citizens he didn’t care for.

      0/10 for historical accuracy, Smelly.


  5. DJ says:

    Mind you, this isn’t the first time Beeboids have had trouble with the whole concept of ‘consent’…..


  6. Leha says:

    not THIS John Sweeny, surely?

    more MFI than MI5


  7. Guest Who says:

    A debate worth having, Alan, despite the usual suspect presuming to try to tell you that there’s nothing to add, in a style that is becoming more than familiar.
    The BBC appears to know it is again in hot water ethically, and hence the full bluster, all-points assault by the rebuttal teams. Sadly for them so obvious as to make what’s bad look worse.
    ‘We maintain all of the students were aware of the risk.’
    Again, as actual facts dribble out, I am struck by a reliance on the Pres. Clinton book of Semantics.
    It’s up there with ‘BBC comfort in BBC belief’, as deployed by CECUTT when they are stuffed and know it, and have to fall back on their own internal intepretations to pull plugs.
    Either the students were aware, or they were not.
    At present, some students, and the LSE, seem pretty clear.
    What the BBC ‘maintains’ these days may play still within the BBC, but post-Savile, McAlpine, Pollard, etc, outside bubblehead city, some may now be looking for a bit more.
    And once there is clarity, if it turns out the BBC has been a tad shy on the veracity front, it would be nice to think some actual accountability may kick in rather than Lord Hall Hall issuing another Young Mr. Grace ‘You’re all doing very trustworthy work’ ra-ra address, as he hires another level of senior managers to keep him out of the loop even in whispering corridors.


  8. Deborah says:

    Funny how it has only crept out today that the organiser of the students tour was Mrs Sweeney – who last year had been employed by the LSE when she had also organised a tour to North Korea. Still no explanation as why she had. But this year she is no longer employed by the LSE but the students had thought that she was. So students who had nearly £2,000 for a holiday chose to use that money to go to North Korea. Not sure really where this is going but it still sounds very odd.


  9. George R says:

    No tour of North Korea, no tour of Broadcasting House.

    Just as North Korea is keeping out Beeboids, so Beeboids are keeping British people out of Broadcasting House:

    “BBC tour guides to strike again”

    Perhaps BECTU’s strike is planned for Tuesday, 23 April so that trade union members can enjoy that English patriotic day, St George’s Day. Only kidding.


  10. ron todd says:

    Will we learn anything new about North Korea? Will we find out the thinking of the top army chiefs or the latest Kim’s plans for the economy? Will we find out the fate of any North Koreans filmed talking to the students? Or will we just learn that North Korea is a repressive regime with a dead economy?


  11. The PrangWizard of England says:

    Not Stalinist then?


  12. Guest Who says:

    Well, we’re not far off seeing what all the fuss is about.
    Ignoring the po-faced exchanges in the clip, from the intro piece alone, one has to love this:
    ‘..despite claims students may have been put in danger’
    An undercover spy trip to… North Korea… ‘may’ have put unprofessional, unaware civilians in danger?
    The dissembling in the interviews are also pretty dire.
    Actually, the interviewer later on gets Ceri Thomas to dig a really deep hole.
    There are a whole bunch of statements, especially about the sudden BBC faith in belief over written consent that BBC staff would not be expected to accept.
    Mr. Thomas claims this ‘would not make a difference’.
    I’d like that to be explored further than yet again the word and belief and ‘thinking’ of yet another BBC senior person who appears to feel their word is all that’s needed.
    It looks like the BBC may dodge this one by pointing out the lack of a paper trail, which by any measure appears to have been on purpose to cover them in the inability to prove anything.
    I can think of a few instances where other media organisations getting forgetful or losing records, much less deliberately avoiding them as here, would result in weeks of BBC attrition.


  13. George R says:

    “So it’s okay for the Beeb to be ‘unethical’?
    “If a tabloid used students as a human shield to get a story, there’d be outrage. But by saying ‘public interest!’ the BBC can get away with it.”

    By Tim Black.


    • Guest Who says:

      ‘their caveats and qualifications don’t sound particularly convincing, with Sweeney claiming weakly that ‘the majority’ of the students support the programme. Does that mean that several don’t, that several were deceived into putting their lives at risk?… Where, for example, are the students’ signed consent forms?’
      Seems that, in this case, according to Ceri Thomas, ‘it would not have made a difference’.
      Some may disagree, including ‘some’ of said students.
      Maybe the public has a right to know a bit more by these questions getting answered.
      Or does the BBC again only hold others to account?
      The BBC – the last refuge of the censor?
      At the rate they are going the Radio Times weekly is going to look like the redactions pages of the Pollard Report.
      All at a compelled £145.50pa, and no backsies.


  14. Teddy Bear says:

    I’m glad to see somebody in government is taking this seriously.

    BBC ‘must publish evidence over LSE North Korea film’

    I for one will be watching this Panorama programme to see just what Sweeeny is going to reveal to us that we didn’t know already.

    My money’s on – this is to get himself some exposure.

    We’ll have to give him a Korean name – maybe
    Ny Yus Jun Kee
    (pronounced – news junky)


  15. DB says:

    The Panorama North Korea doc should be shown. No to censorship (*). I doubt we’ll learn much new anyway.

    However… on R5L earlier an LSE student claimed that the price of the trip organised by Sweeney’s wife was approx £500 more than the one he went on last year, which he said cost him around £1000. I tracked him down on Twitter where he bumped the price of Mrs Sweeney’s trip up even more:

    So, the BBC was there for fewer days but some flights could’ve been more expensive. But would this really double the cost of a similar trip? If this guy is remembering correctly, the price of Mrs Sweeney’s trip – which we now know did not have official consent from the LSE’s Grimshaw Club – seems to have been a bit on the high side.


    I’ve mentioned this to Mr Sweeney a few times this afternoon but he hasn’t responded (he’s replied to other Tweets though).

    Just asking questions, as they say.

    (*) And yes, the BBC should’ve played Ding Dong in full. Let the adolescent lefty throwbacks have their sad excuse for fun.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Nice work, DB. Am I to understand that there was a similar LSE trip to North Korea last year? Is this an annual thing on which the BBC piggybacked for a story, and now LSE is compromised in future (their own fault if they knew the full extent of the BBC’s sneaking, but not so much if they didn’t know all of it).


      • DB says:

        This Cane guy says he went last August, so it’s not a first for the LSE apparently. From what I can gather Mrs Sweeney used the LSE Grimshaw Club name for this trip but the club says it wasn’t officially sanctioned.

        Haven’t watched Panorama yet because the Boston news broke around the same time. Will check it out tomorrow and see if it was worth all the fuss.


  16. Teddy Bear says:

    So far nothing that we didn’t know already, and archive films of ‘sensitive’ areas and scenes.

    Since except for the word ‘Islam’, so much is like the strategy of Islamic regimes, and for exactly the same purpose, to conceal its own failures and despotic rule, why hasn’t the BBC made similar documentaries on the other regimes?


    • chrisH says:

      Let`s sponsor Sweney via Kingston Poly to go undercover for his hajj shall we?…I would pay a part of the license fee for that!
      I for one will be reluctant to tell the Saudis about John Al-Sweenhi and his Departmental Head Khaili-al Thomas…but reserve thr right so to do should the …er…”public interest” require my disclosure/dobbing `em in…who`s to say?


    • Teddy Bear says:

      I also wonder if the BBC gave a thought at all at what might be the repercussions to any North Korean who would have revealed ‘sensitive, critical, or undesirable’ information from the NK government point of view.

      I can imagine Sweeney thinking he had a ‘scoop’ and never mind what would happen to the poor sod who divulged that information. As it is we don’t know what will happen to any of the guides, or those spoken to during their filming.


    • stewart says:

      “archive films of ‘sensitive’ areas”
      The clip of the gulag was credited to ‘yotube’
      £145p.a. bargain


    • Ian Hills says:

      Looks like a typical BBC attempt to prove impartiality, with a token slagging off of North Korea before returning to Israel bashing.


  17. OldBloke says:

    I read somewhere, that when The Sweeney approached the students at a local rave, the music was so loud and students so pi**ed they didn’t quite hear what the Sweeney had said. It has been reported that the students thoug she said North Cornwall. The students suspicions were aroused that something was amiss when they were told they couldn’t take their surf boards on the plane.


  18. chrisH says:

    Just seen this pile of crap.
    How many minutes did NOT come from archive stock, already to hand( ranting newsreader, missiles etc)?
    How much of it was padded with talking heads and testimonies?
    And Sweeney and entourage were prepared to use other peoples kids as human shields…and for this?
    No doubt, wifelet and pal got included cheaply as school trips often give free rides/discounted tickets to the accompanying “supervisory staff”.
    Does Sweeney think of what might happen to any North Koreans who are clearly in shot as they try to inform the passengers etc….as if this can`t be shown back home and reprisals exacted?
    An absolute disgrace that doubles as a non-event.
    Only the pompous likes of Sweeney, Thomas and the appalling Justin Webb(Today. 7.50am….if that`s not the voice of the presumptuous preening BBC, then show me a better example!) could try to justify this crap.
    And did they seek permission from the DPNK to show that bit of tourist puff about the country that Sweeney was given by them before his R&R in Seoul?
    P.S…to think that I need written permission from the parents if I take a kid across the road to see a field of buttercups, yet the BBC don`t reckon on needing one to put the lives of students, the integrity of the LSE(such as it it) in peril?
    Typical BBC…I think I can smell the toast now though!
    They cannot be allowed to get away with this.


  19. Caroline Lucas says:

    This was a wonderful documentary. I was in awe of their dedication to energy conservation, as the night-time satellite shot demonstrated. This is the model upon which a future Green Party governed Britain would be based.


  20. Edward. says:

    In denial at the BBC – Sweeney and a jejune attempt to portray the DPRK – as a “fascist regime” [national socialism – what’s the difference?] – damn it we can’t blame their ills on Stalinist communism can we……even tho’ ‘we’ showed the gulag.

    Same heads in the sand here:


  21. Sir Arthur Strebe-Grebling says:

    Well, that’s 30 minutes of my life that I’m never going to get back, and the bBBC didn’t tell us anything new about North Korea. If I were a conspiracy theorist I might imagine that the bBBC had cooked up the ‘danger to LSE students’ story just to whip up interest in this non-programme.