Lester Holt Missed Something in His North Korea Report

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Posted: Jan 25, 2018 4:00 PM
Lester Holt Missed Something in His North Korea Report

NBC News anchor Lester Holt may have been duped by North Korea propagandists. While doing a report on a ski facility that was doubling as an Olympic training facility just outside of Pyongyang earlier this week, Holt was pleased to share with viewers how well he and his crew had been treated during the visit.

Viewers, like President Trump's nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, noticed something that Holt apparently hadn't.

The Masikryong ski resort is not usually so crowded. It is an expensive propaganda tool that is beyond the reach of ordinary citizens, South Korean officials insist.

But the luxury resort — complete with snow-covered slopes, hotels, restaurants and shops — wasn’t always lauded by visitors as a “world class” vacation destination.

“The idea of joint training could be used as a propaganda tool to rationalize how far-sighted Kim Jong Un was in making what was actually an anachronistic decision to build the ski resort at a time when ordinary citizens are starving to death," Kim Sung-han, a former South Korean vice foreign minister, told Reuters on Sunday. (Fox News)

Even more embarrassing for Holt is that his own network reported last year on how the resort relies on child labor.

"But for dozens of miles, we weave in and out of of the mass ranks of Kim Jong Un's snow clearers. Some of them appeared to be aged as young as 11 or 12. Others were teenagers," NBC reported at the time.

Still, Holt defended his trip Thursday as a valuable experience.

“I absolutely think the trip was worth it,” he told the Associated Press. “We talk about this place, we hear the bellicose language from its leader and we hear the reaction from our country. It’s important to get on the ground. You go to a place like North Korea with your eyes wide open.”

North Korea and South Korea will be sending a joint delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics next month in South Korea. It is a positive move, but one that should be met with skepticism, according to former CIA employees.

In the meantime, Holt's critics have asked him to think again about how "respectful" North Korea is, considering how they treated Otto Warmbier, the young man who was brutally treated by the regime after stealing a poster. He later died from his injuries.