Category Archives: Numbers Stations

How to find the Pyongyang numbers station (V15) including an off-air recording

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey (our resident North Korea specialist)  who shares the following comment regarding our recent post about the re-activation of the North Korean Numbers station:

The Pyongyang numbers (designated V15) have either become less regular or changed their schedule since March. Its been a few months since I have personally received them – but I also haven’t been specifically tuning in for them lately so maybe I have simply missed noticing a timing change.

If you want to find the North Korean numbers, they are read out in a block between songs within the regular programing of the Pyongyang Pangsong radio station.

The choice of music immediately before the number block seems to indicate which recipient agent the transmission is directed to.

For Agent 27 “We Will Go Together with a Song Of Joy” is played, whereas Agent 21’s song is “Spring of my Hometown.”

The announcements typically take between 5 to 10 minutes to read dependent on the number of digits passed. The transmission schedule is variable; in early 2017 the broadcast alternated with a cycle of one week on Thursday night at 12:45AM Pyongyang Time (1615 UTC) and the following week on Saturday night at 11:45PM Pyongyang Time (1515 UTC).??

Pyongyang Pangsong can be heard on these shortwave band frequencies (it is also on MF & FM on the Korean peninsular):

  • 3250 kHz, Pyongyang 100KW Transmitter
  • 3320 kHz, Pyongyang 50KW Transmitter
  • 6400 kHz, Kanggye 50KW Transmitter

Mark followed up this morning with a off-air recording of V15 on 3250kHz. Mark comments, “I will leave the decrypted message content to your imagination!”

Click here to download.

Mark: thank you for taking the time to write up this V15 tutorial and sharing this recording!

North Korea activates numbers station?

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who’ve shared this particular item from The National Interest:

North Korea Broadcasts Really Strange Messages As New Nuclear Weapons Test Looms

Pyongyang is reportedly broadcasting encrypted messages reminiscent of those used to contact spies during the Cold War.

[…]As North Korea prepares to mark a key anniversary — the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung — a U.S. Navy carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson is on its way to Korea.

[…]Radio Pyongyang began broadcasting peculiar messages at 1:15 a.m. (local time). The messages included numbers and pages, such as No. 69 on page 823, No. 92 on page 467, and No. 100 on page 957.“I’m giving review works in elementary information technology lessons of the remote education university for No. 27 expedition agents,” the broadcaster explained before repeating her message.

The messages are broadcast over shortwave radio.

Yonhap News Agency reports the numbers are different from past announcements. Since June of last year, Pyongyang has broadcast its messages 32 times.

Continue reading the full article on The National Interest website…

Update: Since I haven’t gotten any direct listener reports regarding this numbers station’s reactivation, I’ve added a question mark in the title. Please comment if you’ve logged this station (and we’d all love a recording!).

Bletchley Park replica Turing Bombe decodes 40M Enigma message

Remember the weekend 40 meter Enigma message transmitted by DL0HNF? At least one recipient decoded this message:

(Source: Southgate ARC)

40m Enigma Message decrypted at Bletchley Park

On Friday, April 7 the amateur radio station DLØHNF transmitted an Enigma encrypted message on 7036 kHz to Bletchley Park

DLØHNF is the club station at the Heinz Nixdorf Museum in Paderborn, Germany. The encrypted telegraphy message they transmitted was received at the home of the World War Two UK Codebreakers in Bletchley Park. There the message was fed into a replica of the Turing Bombe which enabled the encryption to be cracked.

The message read:  “Paderborn greets the Codebreakers at Bletchley Park”

Read the report and pictures of the event down the page at
http://www.hnf.de/en/veranstaltungen/events/cipher-event-wer-knackt-den-enigma-code.html

Bletchley Park
https://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/

I would have loved to watch the Touring Bombe in action!

Out of curiosity, did anyone record the Enigma transmission?  I’ve had a number of readers inquire about this. Please comment!

Was Morse Code the smoking gun for this spy with no name?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares this story from the BBC News via Matthew M. Aid‘s blog:

[…]It was a cold Saturday morning in April 1988 when a van full of detectives arrived outside the North London home of Erwin van Haarlem. The self-employed art dealer, 44, lived alone in sleepy Friern Barnet, a smattering of brick homes beside the grim North Circular ring road.
The Dutchman’s apartment building on Silver Birch Close had become the centre of an investigation led by the British intelligence agency MI5. It suspected that Van Haarlem – whom neighbours described as an “oddball” – was not in the art business at all, but a sinister foreign agent.

Inside, Van Haarlem was hunched over a radio in his kitchen. He was still wearing his pyjamas, but his hair was parted neatly to one side. He was tuned in, as he was every morning, to a mysterious “number station”. In his earpiece, a female voice recited numbers in Czech, followed by the blip-bleep of Morse code.

At 09:15 detectives from Special Branch, the anti-terror unit of London’s Metropolitan Police, crashed into his apartment. Van Haarlem tried to lower his radio’s antenna. It jammed. When he pulled open a drawer and grabbed a kitchen knife, an officer tackled him, and yelled: “Enough! It is over! It is over!”

Hidden among his easels and paintings, detectives discovered tiny codebooks concealed in a bar of soap, strange chemicals, and car magazines later found to contain messages written in invisible ink. Investigators suspected Van Haarlem was not really from the Netherlands, but was a spy for the UK’s Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union.

[…]Mrs Saint, 61, who co-ordinated the local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme, said she telephoned the police in November 1987 to report strange noises and a “Morse code” interference which affected her television reception every night at 21:20.[…]

Click here to read this fascinating in0depth story on the BBC Magazine website.

Numbers Stations and the two Koreas

SWLingPost-Spy-Numbers-Station

(Source: 38 North via Mike Barraclough)

A little after midnight, early on the morning of July 15, as most of the Korean peninsula slept, were North Korean spies up late listening to the radio?

This was the big question after a strange sequence of numbers was read out on a North Korean radio station. It sounded a lot like the coded messages previously used to relay instructions to spies during the Cold War and perhaps that was the point.

The broadcast began at 12:45am, according to the Joong Ang Ilbo.

“From now on, I will give review work for the subject of mathematics under the curriculum of a remote education university for exploration agents of the 27th bureau.”

It continued, “On page 459, question number 35, on page 913, question number 55, on page 135, question number 86, on page 257, question number 2,” and so on. It lasted for 14 minutes.[…]

Continue reading…

The 38 North article also included YouTube clips of Korean numbers stations, including this one from South Korea (2011):

Click here to view on YouTube.