Is Daily NK a defector-run organization? 

No. Daily NK has never been “run” by defectors, although the organization hires journalists who are originally from North Korea and have settled in South Korea. Daily NK’s editor-in-chief and president are both South Korean. Anyone interested in learning more about the roots of the organization and its leaders are encouraged to read the following:

Daily NK Media Kit (2013)

#1 Interview with Editor-in-Chief Lee Sang Yong

#2 Interview with Editor-in-Chief Lee Sang Yong

Vice News Documentary

Daily NK Promotional Video (NED)

Where does Daily NK get its funding? 

A large portion of Daily NK’s funding sources is in the public sphere. One of our biggest donors is the US-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and information about NED grants Daily NK has received can be found here.

Daily NK accepts donations through its website and weekly newsletter to help fund its operations and reporting activities.

Daily NK also sells market data it gathers from inside North Korea to researchers of the North Korean economy.

Who are Daily NK’s reporting partners in North Korea? In China?  

Daily NK has spent years cultivating a network of sources in North Korea. For security reasons, Daily NK is unable to reveal the number of sources it has in the country. Readers of Daily NK articles will notice that sources hail from almost all parts of the country, including hard-to-communicate areas such as Gangwon Province, Chagang Province, and South Hwanghae Province. Sources include government officials and business people.

Daily NK also has sources in China who provide information about events occurring in China and across the Sino-North Korean border, along with reporting partners in Russia.

We also occasionally use defectors as sources to clarify or obtain comment on various aspects of North Korean affairs.

All Daily NK sources in North Korea are anonymous given the difficult media environment in North Korea, which is ranked one of the most draconian in the world.

How does Daily NK protect its reporting partners?

Daily NK communicates with its sources using phones, messages and other forms of communication. Messages and calls are encrypted to ensure safety of the sources. Keeping their identities anonymous provides another layer of security for them.

Does Daily NK use information obtained from at least two reporting partners in its articles? 

Daily NK strives to corroborate its stories as much as possible. While many stories use information from at least two sources, there are exceptions: certain news stories can only be confirmed by one particularly well-placed reporting partner. Due to security concerns, Daily NK is typically unable to share much information about the social status, location or other identifying details concerning its sources.

Who makes up Daily NK’s staff? 

Daily NK is made up of both South Korean and North Korean defector journalists. Our English page is managed by an American.

How many languages is Daily NK published in? 

We have websites in Chinese, Korean, English and Japanese. Daily NK’s Japanese website is run by a separate organization and is editorially separate from Daily NK’s Korean website.

What is Unification Media Group (UMG) and what is its relationship with Daily NK? 

UMG manages radio broadcasts into North Korea and heads a consortium that includes Daily NK. Many Daily NK reports from North Korea are cycled into broadcasts by UMG for its listeners in North Korea.

Are there examples of Daily NK reporting that has been confirmed by other sources?

Given the difficult reporting environment in North Korea, it remains close to impossible to “independently” confirm many stories. However, Daily NK has a record of accurately reporting on many stories mainly through confirmation from North Korea’s own state-run media outlets or South Korean government announcements. Some examples of stories confirmed by other sources after being published in the Daily NK include:

What kind of things are people saying about Daily NK and its reporting? 

Joshua H. Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute, has said on Twitter that Daily NK’s reporting is based on “opaque sourcing” but “they have a pretty good track record.”

Bill Brown, adjunct professor at Georgetown University, calls Daily NK his “favorite source of news from North Korea.”

Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, has said in regards to the news outlet’s reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic in North Korea that, “Grassroots reporting by indispensable outlets such as Daily NK, with sources inside North Korea, have reported several instances of fever-related deaths around the country after symptoms seemingly similar to COVID-19.”

Barbara Demick, author of “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea,” has called Daily NK a “respected online newspaper based in Seoul.”

Ju Song-ha, a defector journalist at South Korea’s Dong-a Ilbo, said in a Facebook post that, “There is no other [news organization] that brings news so well out of North Korea as Daily NK.”

Thomas Byrne, the president of the Korea Society, has stated that “Daily NK [is] our only source on financial news, as it is, from North Korea.”

Anna Fiefield, a former journalist at the Washington Post and the author of “The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un,” has commented that “…there is lots of great reporting [on North Korea by U.S. and international outlets], including in South Korea. There’s an outlet called Daily NK that is doing a lot of this kind of journalism. They have citizen reporters inside North Korea or informants who can tell what’s going on in there. They are providing a lot of information about what’s happening in North Korea.”

Peter Ward, a NK News contributor and researcher of North Korea’s economy, has said that Daily NK is a “generally reliable outlet” and that the organization uses “methods that are common to all media companies who try to report from inside the country: they often have to rely on single sources and report on rumors that are circulating.”

Note: These quotes are taken from Daily NK’s Wikipedia page.

Version History: First published on April 27, 2020. Updated on Feb. 27, 2023 to reflect changes in terminology related to Daily NK’s reporting partner network. Updated on June 1, 2023, to reflect changes in terminology related to Daily NK’s source network. 

For more information about Daily NK, please reach out to us at dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.