Reader Robert Payne writes to take issue with our recent posts criticizing Los Angeles Times Seoul bureau chief Barbara Demick. Payne writes:
Here is the article you missed about North Korean human rights abuses by Barbara Demick. I have about 8 more if I need to send them to prove the point: “Forum focuses on North Korea’s rights abuses.”
Yep, the LA Times article was bad, but Barabara Demick is no Duranty. I know it is hard to back down (and I know Hewitt won’t) but I think you must agree that there is no reason to generalize about Demick. I hope you will acknowledge this on your site.
Let us add to the equation a more recent article by Demick that a reader noted for us yesterday: “The hidden stories of North Korea.”
In the three-year old article linked by Payne, Demick recounts powerful refugee testimony regarding the catastrophic human situtation in North Korea. In the more recent article, Demick reflects on the difficulty of substantiating the claims of “defectors.” Yet in her “North Korea, without the rancor” article this week, Demick simply transmits the views of the anonymous North Korean “businessman”/agent without comment, context, or question.
Which makes Demick — what, a witting rather than an unwitting dupe? I believe that places her in the heart of the Pulitzer-Prize winning tradition of Walter Duranty.
UPDATE: See also the devastating annotation of Demick’s email response to criticism of her Times article that was posted yesterday by Hugh Hewitt.