South Korean reporters clash with North Korean authorities over Pyongyang concert

SEOUL, April 2 (UPI) — A high-ranking North Korean official apologized to South Korean reporters for restricting access to a Pyongyang concert staged by major K-Pop artists.

According to a pool report, Kim Yong-chol, a high-ranking Workers’ Party official who oversees inter-Korean affairs, visited Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang to ask South Korean reporters for their understanding as regime leader Kim Jong Un had attended the concert on Sunday.

“We had the responsibility of providing the freedom and convenience of media coverage,” he said. “I apologize on the behalf of North Korean authorities over the mishap.”

This comes after South Korean media were reportedly barred from the concert hall where the anticipated performance of South Korean musicians took place from 6:50 p.m. Seoul time.

Reporters were allowed access to the two-hour rehearsal session which ended at 5:50 p.m. After returning from a short break, the media crew found all their bags had been removed from the concert hall and were placed outside the premises.

Only one camera reporter was allowed back into the concert hall while the remaining seven were led to a corridor behind the stage.

At around 6:30 p.m., shortly before the performance started, the reporters asked organizers whether the event would really begin an hour later as scheduled but didn’t receive a response, the pool report said.

They discovered the performance had started when they heard clapping from the audience, and had to cover the event through live footage on a television set in a dressing room backstage.

South Korea’s high-ranking officials, including the minister of culture, who attended the concert were reportedly unaware that the reporters had been excluded from the performance.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday that it filed a strong complaint to North Korean authorities over the affair, Yonhap reported.