ABC News: Aggressive Talks Led to Exclusive N. Korea Access

ABC News' exclusive reporting from North Korea this week is the result of long-term, persistent talks with the North Korean government, said ABC News Foreign News Director Chuck Lustig.

"ABC News has been aggressive in dealing with the North Koreans, trying to convince them that it was in their best interest to teach Americans about North Korea," Lustig said.

ABC News' Bob Woodruff filed his first report from the capital city of Pyongyang on Tuesday for "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings."

The trip marks the first extensive reporting by an American network inside North Korea since then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright's visit in October 2000.

Lustig, who coordinated the trip, said he has been traveling to the country since 1995. He accompanied ABC News President David Westin on a trip to Pyongyang in February of 2005, and most recently visited in May to petition government officials for access.

He said the trip provides a "great opportunity" for Americans to gain a firsthand account of what it's like to live in North Korea.

"The American people only know what the American government says about North Korea," he said. "Our goal is to report both on current tensions and give some sense of the country."

Although North Korea's press outlets are under direct state control, Lustig said the ABC News team is making the most of the rare access.

"In any closed society, there are issues that we have to contend with," he said.

The ABC News team visited the campus of Kim Il Sung University, Lustig said, but found that all of the students and faculty had left the campus to plant rice crops. An estimated 3 million North Koreans have left the cities to plant rice for the upcoming season, he said.

North Korea is in the midst of a major food crisis, while trying to boost its agricultural production.

ABC News also visited a biscuit factory sponsored by the United Nations World Food Program, where international aid was being used to produce biscuits to feed the country's children.

Lustig said the ABC News team will remain in the country until Saturday.

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