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London School of Economics Says BBC Put Students at Risk on North Korea Trip

The London School of Economics and Political Science is accusing the BBC of putting students at risk during a trip to North Korea in March by using them as cover for a reporting team that secretly filmed material there for a documentary, according to reports by the Associated Press and the British broadcasting company Sky News. It was unclear from those reports what the BBC’s role was in planning the trip. The London School says the trip was not organized by the university but by a student group known as the Grimshaw Club.

A BBC News official said on Sunday that the students had been given enough information before the trip to understand and consent to the increased risk of traveling with journalists who did not have authorization to work in North Korea. But the London School says the BBC told the students only that “a journalist” would accompany them and did not reveal that two others would be clandestinely shooting footage for a documentary.

A statement issued by the BBC on Saturday also mentions only a single journalist, saying: “The students were all explicitly warned about the potential risks of traveling to North Korea with the journalist as part of their group. This included a warning about the risk of arrest and detention and that they might not be allowed to return to North Korea in the future.”

The London School’s director, Craig Calhoun, told Sky News that, besides posing a risk to the students on the trip, the BBC’s actions had created “a serious future problem” for others interested in research or student travel in North Korea.

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