Lester Holt on North Korea Reporting: ‘I Absolutely Think the Trip Was Worth It’

By Chris Ariens 

NBC’s Lester Holt is defending his reporting trip to North Korea following a backlash here at home.

Holt began coverage Saturday afternoon and was supposed to wrap up Tuesday anchoring Nightly News from Seoul, South Korea. Instead Holt returned early, just as criticism of the trip was mounting. (We asked NBC why he returned ahead of schedule, and will report when we hear back.)

Reporting from a ski hill in North Korea for the Today show Monday, Holt said, “We have been treated with respect here.” Critics pounced on that line, and of what was perceived to be a sanitized version of life there.


“As a reporter, you always want more,” Holt told the AP’s David Bauder. “We want to be able to control where we go, who we can talk to, and we weren’t able to. That’s frustrating, but it wasn’t like we didn’t know that going in.”

“I absolutely think the trip was worth it,” Holt said. “We talk about this place, we hear the bellicose language from its leader and we hear the reaction from our country. It’s important to get on the ground. You go to a place like North Korea with your eyes wide open.”

Holt will return to the Korean peninsula in two weeks as part of NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.