Category Archives: Numbers Stations

Numbers Stations and the two Koreas

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(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.

North Korean numbers station in the press

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I’ve been offline and off-grid this week and have accumulated quite the backlog of email.

One news item that caught the attention of a large number of readers (thanks to all for the tips–!) was North Korean spy numbers. I’m very curious if any readers have logged and recorded this station–if so, please comment and consider sharing your recording!

The news was featured on at least two prominent news sites:

(Source: The Guardian)

North Korea’s radio broadcast of string of mysterious numbers is possible code

Numbers read on state radio may be cold war-era method of sending coded messages to spies in South Korea – or an attempt to wage psychological warfare

North Korea’s state radio has recently broadcast strings of indecipherable numbers, according to officials in Seoul, in a possible resumption of a cold war-era method of sending coded messages to spies operating in South Korea.

A female announcer at the radio station read numbers for two minutes on 24 June and 14 minutes on Friday, according to Seoul’s unification ministry and national intelligence service (NIS). A copy of those comments provided by the ministry included phrases such as “No 35 on Page 459” and “No 55 on Page 913”.[…]

(Source: BBC)

North Korea is criticised by South Korea for ‘spy broadcasts’

South Korean officials have criticised North Korea after it apparently resurrected a Cold War-era method of contacting spies.

In recent weeks, mysterious strings of numbers have twice been broadcast over the radio from the North.

A spokesman for the South’s Unification Ministry said it couldn’t be sure about North Korea’s “hidden intentions”.

But it urged the North to “desist from such outdated practices”.[…]

London Shortwave: numbers station on top of VOT broadcast

SWLingPost-Numbers1

SWLing Post contributor, London Shortwave, just published an interesting post on his blog. He begins:

I have been regularly recording the small spectrum window containing the endangered stations I mentioned in one of my previous posts. Three days ago I noticed something strange: a morse code transmission superimposed onto the Voice of Turkey’s signal on 9460 kHz.[…]

Click here to read his full post and listen to the audio clip.

Psst, Buddy! Wanna Buy a Spy Radio?

This unusual Ebay posting is one of the most interesting I’ve seen in a long time: a genuine, new spy radio transceiver!

Given its rarity and new condition, the $1,900 asking price seems reasonable to me for what a well-heeled collector might pay. The set is referred to as a “FIELD SET MODEL FS-5000 SHORT WAVE SPY RADIO”.

It comes as one carton containing four larger fiber boxes and three smaller fiber boxes, all containing modules that are combined to make a digital radio transceiver system.

spy_radio

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The seller says that the equipment (complete with shock-absorbing transit containers) bears no manufacturer marks, but was likely made in Germany by Telefunken. The various components look to be extremely well made, and the seller has provided these links for more information on this unusual 0.5-30 MHz transceiver:

http://www.cryptomuseum.com/spy/fs5000/index.htm

http://www.tuberadio.com/robinson/Information/FS5000/

http://www.prc68.com/I/FS5000.shtml

Be sure to check out all the clear photos provided by the Ebay seller of this fascinating transceiver.

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.

Shortwave Numbers Stations on The Daily Beast

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Interest in shortwave numbers stations seems to wax and wane. We’re currently going through a period of increased interest (again) as I’ve been receiving quite a few messages from new readers asking where to find spy numbers and what type of shortwave radio is needed. Truth is, there are fewer and fewer numbers stations still on the air, though some are still quite reliable (like HM01).

The following article by Shane Harris at The Daily Beast is one of the better, more detailed, articles I’ve read in the popular press.

(Source: The Daily Beast via Southgate ARC)

The Stupidly Simple Spy Messages No Computer Could Decode

by Shane Harris

When I was 10 years old, I found a shortwave radio in a crumbling old leather trunk where we kept family photos and other memorabilia.

As I spun the dial, tinny, modulating noises, like the song of an electronic slide whistle, emanated from the radio’s small speaker. Staticky cracks and pops competed for airtime. The sounds swished and swirled, unintelligible and unremarkable. But then, emerging through the clamor, was a voice.

I might have run right over it with the dial, but the voice’s rhythmic, steady pacing caught me up short. It wasn’t a deejay. Nor a commercial. And he wasn’t singing. He was just speaking. The same line, over and over again.

“7…6…7…4…3.” Pause. “7…6…7…4…3.”

I don’t remember if those were the exact numbers. But they were numbers. A repeated sequence which had no obvious meaning, and was entirely devoid of context. To find him here, amidst the screeches and howls of the shortwave frequencies, was like coming upon a man standing in the middle of a forest, talking out loud to no one.

How long had he been here? Who was he talking to? He had that officious tone of the recorded telephone operators who chastised you for dialing a wrong number. “Please hang up, check the number, and dial again.” And the same distracting static I’d heard in those messages filled the background. I wasn’t sure if he was speaking live, or if he’d been recorded and set loose to play into the air.

But there was an urgency to his tone. And a purpose. As if he were talking to me. Imploring. Listen. Hear me now. 7…6…7…4…3. Did you get that? 7…6…7…4…3.

I was simultaneously terrified and captivated.[…]

Continue reading at The Daily Beast…