Friday, July 22, 2011

The Email that Made the Korean Instantly Lose All Respect for BBC

The Korean swears upon his family's life that the email copy/pasted here is absolutely real, and not one word in it was altered except for the name, phone number and email address of the person, which are withheld. Below is the email that the Korean received Friday morning:
date Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 9:42 AM
subject BBC radio request
Important mainly because it was sent directly to you.
hide details 9:42 AM (7 hours ago)

Dear "Ask a Korean",

The BBC World Service radio's World Have Your Say programme is doing a programme tonight looking at the famine in North Korea. We are looking for people in North Korea to talk to us about the situation there, how bad is it? Do you want / need aid from foreign nations? Should the international community provide aid for you? If you would like to take part, please send your number to me and I will call you. We go on air at 17GMT, 0100 KST.

Thank you,

Kind regards,

This e-mail (and any attachments) is confidential and may contain personal views which are not the views of the BBC unless specifically stated.
If you have received it in error, please delete it from your system.
Do not use, copy or disclose the information in any way nor act in reliance on it and notify the sender immediately.
Please note that the BBC monitors e-mails sent or received.
Further communication will signify your consent to this.
Wow. Wow. Wow.

Where does the Korean even start? Seems like the most likely thing that happened was this BBC person read one of the Korean's translations of Mr. Joo Seong-Ha's article, and thought the Korean was Mr. Joo. Although every translation post makes clear in the beginning that the post is a translation, and provides a link to the original article below. Not to mention the fact that Mr. Joo makes it quite clear in the translated articles that he is a defector who now lives in South Korea. Or the fact that "About TK" section on the right sidebar of this blog says the Korean lives in Northern Virginia, not North Korea. Or the fact that the top post on the front page of the blog discusses South Korean pop music industry. Or the fact that on the same front page, there is a post that summarizes the Korean's trip back to Korea. Or the fact that the Korean is quite free with his opinion. Or the fact that, you know, the Korean is on the Internet and has the time to write the blog, instead of foraging for food outside.

Really, BBC? Did you really think the Korean was running this blog while living in North Korea? Really? Really? The Korean is still speechless. How can he ever take your news seriously now?

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. Wow. Wow. Wow. Really, BBC? Really? Really? Really? speechless. lose all respect.

    Stop writing like a woman!

  2. Hey, at least they didn't hack your email or voicemail.

  3. Even making allowances for some kind of misunderstanding (as we're all human, after all), that does seem a bit excessive. Obviously this individual did no checking on anything whatsoever. Hopefully said individual was merely rushed for time instead of being a complete ignoramus.

  4. wow that's pretty retarded mistake. just a tiny bit of research and/or attention to the info on your blog could have avoided this...sad.

  5. One possibility could be that the BBC (or at least some of their reporters) was sending out emails to a large number of people, effectively cold calling (or "cold emailing") a large number of people in the hopes of getting a much smaller but still sizable number of positive replies. Then, through computer or human error, The Korean simply was sent the wrong template email by accident. This makes the BBC look very silly, but it's not as bad as them having a person who believes that the Korean is a North Korean from and living in North Korea.

  6. Also, the fact that the BBC is sending out emails to North Koreans in Korea can be explained if they possess (or at least think that they have) a list of email addresses of reporters from inside North Korea (the China-NK border crossers who sell news to the Daily NK and Open Radio for North Korea.) I thought that these people mostly communicated by cell phone, but the idea of at least a small number of them having webmail accounts that they could access from China is not completely implausible.

  7. BBC News will interview anyone. I once posted on a Michael Jackson funeral story that I was going to attend and they asked if they could interview me on air. Never did it.

  8. I tried to come up with an excuse. Perhaps the email was computer-generated. They're doing a coverage on famines around the world, and North Korea is just one of the countries under default setting.

    Yeah, there's no legitimate excuse available.

  9. I thought BBC knew that Google withdrew its blogspot hosting services from North Korea after it learned that access was being redirected to the military.

  10. It may be a little unreasonable to lose all respect for an institution due to the misguided questions of a single employee.

  11. BBC World Have Your Say and BBC Africa Have Your Say have made similarly lame requests about what's going on in Malawi right now. I thought it was just an "Africa" reporting thing. Yeah. Can't trust anything they write now!

  12. Hahahahaha!

    Makes you wonder who else they sent it to. The entire Korean blogosphere? And did they actually get through to any North Koreans?

    I just discovered something interesting. I googled North Korean websites and it came up with 'the official homepage of the DPRK', I clicked on it, and the South Korean net censorship overlord bot blocked it. I think that says something interesting about both countries!

  13. Probably a clueless intern

  14. Clueless intern or not, anyone who's working on 'Korean' story in BBC should know something about Korea, which would mean he/she should know something about N Korea...

  15. Matt,
    About SK govt blocking website of NK, yeah you can call it censorship BUT it is a serious threat.

    There's no way SK can control public opinion of NK(not that public opinion counts in NK). But NK actively tries to manipulate public opinion of SK, to try to help pick president in SK that would give more aid to NK, to fool SK into lower guard against NK, etc etc.

    And all of this with an openly belligerent nation with million men army positioned 30miles from Seoul...

    And don't forget SK citizens have just as much freedom/free-press as US does, except for when it comes to NK, for a very good reason.

  16. Please, give "the BBC" a break. It was one person's error. Probably a newbie on a deadline, sweating buckets and trying to look clever.

    Still, I can see why you'd be disappointed in this particular person.

  17. No, the Korean is disappointed at BBC, not just this one person. In fact, the Korean is also somewhat disappointed at Great Britain for failing to educate this person of this most rudimentary fact.

  18. I totally understand you.
    But cut them some slack - Northern Virginia is often mistaken for North Korea, after all.

  19. dbagoo, America doesn't block jihadist websites, to give one example. I'm not sure if you're Korean, but I've never met a South Korean who could even feign interest in North Korean news in any format. It's so incredibly dull and dated that it's useless as propaganda. It's like trying to change an American teenager's mind by showing them a Troy McClure documentary.

    Much of the South Korean left does a much better job of promoting North Korea than the North ever could.

  20. The BBC and The Economist are the poster children for British ignorance regarding the Korean peninsula.

  21. Actually, the Korean is constantly impressed by the Economist's coverage of Korea. People who work there know their stuff.


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