Louis Cole, a popular British YouTuber, has recently come under fire after releasing a series of travel videos from North Korea that failed to report on the harsh realities of life in the authoritarian regime.
In a video uploaded on Wednesday, Cole defended his videos, saying he wants to focus on the more positive aspects of any country he visits – and that he’s not a “investigative journalist".
I've been to developed countries, developing countries, with a range of political problems and social justice issues. Two of my favourite cities, Cape Town and Rio, have the biggest wealth disparity in the world, but I'm looking for the beautiful, positive things. I want to connect with local people, learn about the culture and the country.
I am not a investigative journalist, I don't really do political commentary, and there are other places on the internet and there are other places you can go to find those kind of things.
Cole was on an organised tour of the country, which meant he could only visit places sanctioned by government officials.
Cole said he shouldn't be criticised for showing viewers only what he was able to see.
This trip to North Korea, as many of my trips, I went on as a tourist and we went on an organised tour, so the same kind of tour anyone going there as a tourist would experience, and as much as we can be sceptical as how much was real and how much was staged, that is what I experienced and I can only share with you what I experienced. ...
I do know what is going on out there. I am not being naive to it all. And maybe I should have, at the beginning of each vlog, encouraged people to go and do their own research and find out all that they can about North Korea.
YouTuber Philip De Franco published a video describing Cole's visit to North Korea as like visiting a mansion where you were only shown nice things, while something bad was hidden in other rooms.
Cole responded to De Franco, saying that visiting mansions and connecting with people in the "nicer rooms" might help "the entire household".
My only question to that is: What about the people, in the house, that are in those rooms, in the nicer rooms? I think the only way to make a difference is to connect with those people and show them love and maybe that will impact the entire household...
On Thursday, Cole released a new music video filmed in North Korea called "Surfin' in the DPRK".
Louis Cole was contacted for further comment by BuzzFeed News and had not responded by the time of publication.
Scott Bryan is a TV editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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