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Kyodo News announced Wednesday that widely used photographs and videotape of the incident involving five North Koreans seeking asylum at a Japanese consulate in China earlier this month were taken by its reporters.

It is the first time Kyodo has officially acknowledged this.

Kyodo had been refraining from reporting further details to conceal the source of its information, but has now decided to reveal more background because a week has passed since the five left China and because speculation about the video footage could affect Kyodo’s credibility and Sino-Japanese relations.

The incident took place May 8 at the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang, Liaoning Province.

The reporters left the area after three of the five had been seized, thinking the situation had settled down, and did not capture the moment when Kim Guan Chol, 28, and his brother Kim Song Ku, 26, were forcibly removed from the consulate grounds by Chinese police.

Hisashi Hirai and Tomohisa Kato of Kyodo’s China headquarters were in charge of the coverage, the news agency said.

Kyodo transmitted articles and five pictures the day the incident took place, as well as articles and two minutes and 40 seconds of video footage May 9. It did not say who shot the visual images.

The agency said all of the video content with news value has been dispatched. Japanese, South Korean, European and American media organizations made use of the images.

Kyodo, which has been covering incidents involving North Korean asylum seekers in China mainly near its China headquarters, obtained information about the May 8 incident in advance and dispatched the reporters to Shenyang to cover the case.

The Chinese and Japanese governments engaged in a two-week diplomatic tussle over the fate of the five North Koreans.

— two brothers, the elder brother’s wife and daughter, and the brothers’ mother.

They arrived in South Korea via the Philippines last Thursday. Japan says the Chinese police entered the consulate without its permission, a claim denied by China.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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