Are blogs instruments of diplomacy?
The Reg points to a growing flap in the UK when the British Ambassador to North Korea, Peter Hughes, wrote a blog entry about life in the reclusive state, describing North Korea in almost idyllic terms.
For example, Peter describes “election day” in North Korea like this:
There was a very festive atmosphere throughout the city. Many people were walking to or from the polling stations, or thronging the parks to have picnics or just stroll. Most of the ladies were dressed in the colourful traditional hanguk pokshik and the men in their best suits. Outside the central polling stations there were bands playing and people dancing and singing to entertain the queues of voters waiting patiently to select their representatives in the country’s unicameral legislature. The booths selling drinks and snacks were very popular with the crowds and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
As criticism of Peter’s description of life in North Korea started pouring in, the British Ambassador defended himself in the comments:
The elections were the same as such events everywhere with voters turning out in their hundreds, but there were no opposition candidates.
Hmmm… no opposition candidates. Idyllic!
Of course, Peter has good reasons not to rile up the North Koreans. But he can’t come out and say them, which is why not every public official is well served by blogging.