North Korea broadcast
People watch a huge screen broadcasting the government's announcement on its testing of a hydrogen nuclear bomb in January 2016 in Pyongyang, North KoreaREUTERS/Kyodo

North Korea will open its doors to Agence France-Presse (AFP), a leading global news agency. The news provider will open a bureau in the capital, Pyongyang, in mid-2016 and become only the second global news company with a permanent presence in one of the world's most secretive states.

"The establishment of an AFP bureau in Pyongyang in the near future will help expand the agency's international network," AFP chairman Emmanuel Hoog said. "AFP needs to be present all over the world to fulfil its mission of reporting news as fully as possible, notably through the medium of images," he added.

The bureau's remit will include producing photo, video and text news, AFP said. Two permanent North Korean staff will work in the office and report to AFP's Asia regional management. Foreign correspondents "will be selected to carry out regular reporting trips to the nation".

Other foreign media organisations with a presence in Pyongyang include the Associated Press (AP), which established its presence in the tightly controlled country in 2012. Japan's Kyodo news agency and China's Xinhua agency also have offices in the North Korean capital.

Speaking about the prospect of another foreign news company operating in North Korea in November 2015, high-profile defector Kim Heung Kwang told NK News: "Helping to broadcast North Korea's parade and results of their economic development can still be done without adding one more company to the list of foreign media stationed in Pyongyang". He added: "There is no reason for AFP to be there if they will follow the steps of predecessors, who have already shown disappointing results."