Playing with fire

May 9, 2013

Having been one of the few lecturers in the UK to have had an undergraduate in my care treated as a spy while backpacking in North Korea, I would like to comment on the BBC inserting undercover reporters in a student trip (“NK confidential: BBC correctly balanced consent and complicity”, Opinion, 25 April; “Panorama put LSE ‘bystanders’ at risk”, Letters, 2 May).

The reality is that if one of the undercover reporters had been discovered, everyone on the trip would have been in jeopardy. The North Koreans would have wanted to know how many others were involved and would have resorted to “direct questioning techniques” that would have lasted for days, if not weeks. Eventually, the innocent students would have been released; however, from my admittedly limited experience, they would never have been the same again.

Of course the London School of Economics was right to get upset at the BBC for putting the lives and mental health of some of their students at risk.

Name and address withheld

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