Russia and North Korea’s state-owned news agencies are teaming up to fight “fake news” about their countries.
Russian news agency TASS reported last night that its director general Sergei Mikhailov had signed a formal co-operation agreement with his Korean Central News Agency counterpart, Kim Chan Gwang.
The agreement will reportedly see the agencies share stories, provide assistance to each other’s accredited journalists, and work together to counter so-called fake news.
According to TASS, Chan Gwang said: “We increasingly often see misrepresentation of information in the news environment, and we must counter the dissemination of such fake news.
“I believe that KCNA and TASS news agencies must join efforts towards this goal.”
BBC Monitoring, which analyses local sources around the world, suggested this could ultimately provide “an additional outlet for North Korea’s political stance on proliferation and sanctions issues involving the United States”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un) signed a law in March banning what the authorities regard as fake news or online comments showing “blatant disrespect” for the state.
North Korea is ranked second from bottom on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index 2019, while Russia comes 149th out of 180 countries.
TASS and KCNA previously had a similar agreement in place, signed in 2005, but Mikhailov said “much water has passed under the bridge since then”.
“Much has changed in the politics of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and in relations between our agencies,” he said.
“Steps that would be unthinkable some time ago can be taken now.”
TASS, which claimed to be the only Russian media organisation with a bureau in North Korean capital Pyongyang, plans to expand its presence there and open a new photo centre, Mikhailov said.
Delegations from the two state outlets will also meet each year to share their experiences, it was reported.
Mikhailov said North Korea is “now in many respects in the focus of the global media as well as political focus and resources”.
“That is why it is important for us to be in the know of what is going on here, to learn this firsthand and deliver this news to our clients in Russia and across the globe.”
Picture: Korean Central News Agency via Reuters