BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes. Photo: AP

On Monday, the Associated Press reports, North Korea expelled three BBC journalists for allegedly insulting the country’s dignity, shortly before the authoritarian state’s first congress in 36 years bestowed a new title upon Kim Jong Un: “Party chairman.”

The BBC’s coverage of the congress had distorted facts and “spoke ill of the system and the leadership of the country,” O Ryong Il, the secretary general of the North’s National Peace Committee, said.

Correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was detained on Friday and questioned for eight hours, the New York Times reports, before being kicked out of the country on Monday. Producer Maria Byrne and cameraman Matthew Goddard were also expelled.

Altogether, about 100 foreign journalists had been invited to cover the North Korean congress, but only 30 were granted entry on Monday. The Los Angeles Times Beijing bureau chief, Julie Makinen, wrote on Twitter that she and her team were not admitted because their reports over the weekend “were not beautiful.”

According to Bloomberg, this is a somewhat more thoughtful response than the usual answer North Korean minders give to journalists’ questions, which is: “This is a difficult question.”

Prior to Monday, Kim was already head of the Workers’ Party of Korea, but his title had been “first secretary.” His father, Kim Jong Il, will keep his title of “eternal general secretary” and his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, will remain “eternal president.”