NEW YORK (AP) – Months of cajoling by ABC News resulted in this week’s exclusive series of reports by Bob Woodruff from North Korea.

It’s the first extensive reporting by an American network inside the country since October 2000, when Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited, the network said Wednesday.

Woodruff began his reports from the capital of Pyongyang Tuesday on “World News Tonight,” describing a city strangely empty because residents had been sent to the countryside to plant rice, and intersections devoid of traffic lights because police directed traffic.

On Wednesday, Woodruff interviewed the North Korean representative to talks about the country’s nuclear weapons program. A day earlier, he had reported North Korean’s willingness to resume the dormant discussions.

ABC News President David Westin quietly traveled to North Korea in February to see if a news team would be allowed in. Chuck Lustig, the network’s director of foreign news coverage, took other trips to organize Woodruff’s reports. He first went to North Korea in 1995.

“It will be fascinating for us and for our audiences to see what life is like there and try to get a snapshot of everyday existence inside North Korea,” Westin said.

Woodruff is accompanied at all times by government officials, said Jon Banner, executive producer of “World News Tonight.”

The network will disclose to viewers if any restrictions are placed on Woodruff and his five-member team, he said. So far there haven’t been, he said.

“It’s an incredible time to be there and it’s incredible to be there at all,” Banner said.


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