The world is in a state of panic of late with the Ebola epidemic consuming worldwide news.  Although countries take very separated approaches to the way in which news it dictated it is safe to say that we all agree on one thing, that Ebola must be contained.

Not only has this virus affected millions of lives but also it is still having an ongoing effect in the political sphere, stopping scheduled meeting from being carried out.

North Korea has been under lockdown for more than three months in an attempt to keep the Ebola virus from crossing the borders, with all arrivals facing 21 days quarantine before permitted entrance to the country.

Although an awful subject it seems that North Korea have been able to use it to their advantage, refusing to let a group of Journalists travel to the UK to learn about the UK press industry.

This trip has been planned for a very long time with the UK doing all they can to improve attitudes towards Human Rights in the country.

On a mission to learn online journalism skills and gain an understanding of the British media this part UK tax-funded project has been put on halt, with many feeling Ebola to have been used as an untruthful excuse.

Many say that this is just another product of the ‘over-enthusiastic health protection measures’ that the country have been heavily criticised for, where others feel it is North Korea officials imposing their values to control national thinking.

What the UK has to say

Lord Alton of Liverpool, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on North Korea, told reporters Caroline Wheeler and Alex Stevenson that the cancellation could prevent embarrassment.

‘The Foreign Office might see it as a blessing in disguise if they can be given a reason for reconsidering giving a group of people whose speciality is propaganda rather than journalism the opportunity of coming to the UK,’ he said.

‘I think it has less to do with Ebola and more to do with the insecurity of the regime and their determination to try to prevent any influence by foreigners, aid workers or diplomats.’

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: ‘The UK has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of horrifying human rights violations in North Korea. Last month, the international community condemned these abuses with a strong resolution in the United Nations.

‘This project is an example of the type of international exposure recommended by the UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights in the DPRK. It is just one part of our critical engagement to try to improve the lives of those who live in North Korea.’

A United Nations report earlier this year found that North Koreans are not able to express opinions that are critical of the regime or its official ideology.

It said: ‘There is an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as of the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, information and association.’

With North Korea universally criticised for their propaganda workings could putting a stop on the trip simply be another example of the state feeling a need to control the press?

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