Tag Archives: DPRK

Mark records “Pyongyang’s 6 am wake up call”

This week, SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, was featured in the NK News for his research in North Korea. While Mark has made a wide array of his work available through a media-rich (free) iBook, this particular article focuses on the “Morning Chorus” heard throughout Pyongyang in the early hours of the morning:

(Source: NK News)

Why does an eerie electronic ballad play across North Korea’s capital every morning?

It was early in the morning, but Mark Fahey had been awake for hours. A biomedical engineer turned North Korean propaganda expert, he had spent most of the night tinkering with a radio in his room at the Yanggakdo International Hotel, secretly recording the opening moments of Pyongyang FM Pangsong.

While he listened to the station’s typical offering of classical music and propaganda, another microphone and recorder were set up next to an open window to capture the sounds of the city as it roused itself awake. It was August 2011, and the sun hung low on the horizon. Fahey expected to pick up the sound of the dredging work taking place along the Taedong River.

Instead, he heard music.

“Pyongyang is deadly silent at night,” Fahey tells NK News. “If a lorry’s just passing through the city, you’re going to hear it. It’s so quiet. And at 6 am, you hear this kind of weird…” he hesitates. “It sounds like mind control music.”

Seeking an explanation, Fahey brought the tune up with his minder.

“They didn’t know what I was talking about,” he recalls, “but I don’t actually think that means they didn’t know what it was. They probably didn’t realize that I could hear it from where I was.”[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article at the NK News.

The NK News article is fascinating and also includes several more video clips from North Korea media.

Also, consider downloading Mark’s interactive iBook Behind The Curtain from the Apple store by clicking here.

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!).

North Korea: Information Gathering in the World’s Most Restrictive Nation

If you’ve been an SWLing Post reader for long, you’ll have “met” him virtually; if you’ve been in attendance the Winter SWL Fest recently, you’ll recognize him, may have heard him speak, and perhaps even have met him in person.  I’m speaking, of course, of my good friend, Post contributor, and fellow radio listener, Mark Fahey.

What you might not know about Mark, an intrepid Aussie and mediahound of remarkable facility and clarity, is that he has spent many years (and significant personal resources) compiling a fascinating and invaluable multi-media project in the form of an iBook he’s titled Behind The Curtain, which allows outsiders a frank view directly into North Korean propaganda.

What’s astounding is that this view is from within North Korea: Mark, having traveled to North Korea numerous times (until he made his research public, that is, thus limiting his re-entry), successfully rips back North Korea’s curtain of self-image to reveal, in all its stultified glory, the inner workings––and failings––of the”Hermit Kingdom.”

He’s now very near to publishing  Behind The Curtain, and he’s making available the iBook––as well as all of the media and research he’s curated––for free.

HOPE X

During the summer of 2014 Mark ventured to New York City to present his research at HOPE X (Hackers On Planet Earth). Yesterday, I rediscovered the video of Mark’s presentation at HOPE X on YouTube. If you’re interested in North Korea, propaganda, number stations, SDRs, and/or anthropology of any stripe, you’ll certainly enjoy this presentation, which is truly like no other:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Intrigued?  So am I!

Behind The Curtain doesn’t yet have a formal release date, but stay tuned to the Post for details about its availability, as well as any other presentations or projects on this (or any other subject!) by Mark.

Download Behind The Curtain from the Apple store by clicking here.

Chris’ Seoul AM Radio Listening Guide now live

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Chris Kadlec, who shares the following announcement about his Seoul AM Radio Listening Guide:

After a long 14 months of work, I’m happy to present the completed Seoul AM Radio Listening Guide, a three-hour documentary broadcast exploring the Seoul AM band one frequency at a time, plus a look at the radio war on the Korean peninsula accompanied by a 115-page guide.

http://www.beaglebass.com/dx/seoul/

In addition to radio broadcasts from across East Asia, the broadcast includes Korean noise jammers and AM, FM, shortwave, and television propaganda broadcasts from both the north and the south, additionally outlined in a 25-page broadcast transcript and 115-page informational guide. It also includes:

* A comprehensive list of 260 East Asian AM stations, including station names, tower locations, distance and direction from Seoul, parallel FM frequencies, broadcast hours, and station website links.

* A full bandscan of 235 regular nightly skywave signals as heard after the sun sets over Seoul.

* Daytime groundwave bandscans taken from eleven different locations in the Seoul metro area, along the North Korean border, beside the sea, and in Korea’s mountainous interior with background information about each location.

* A guide showing stations organized by their network affiliations in addition to privately-owned stations and networks. Alternatively, stations are also shown organized by country, region, and city.

* A chart showing signal strength for each bandscan – day and night – in bar graph format.

* A full colour-coded regional station map covering both skywave and groundwave signals.

* A view of some of Korea’s signal jammers as seen on an SDR (software-defined radio).

* Plus, a complete transcript of the three-hour audio broadcast with additional information on the featured audio clips as well as the songs featured in those clips.

– Chris Kadlec

Brilliant, Chris! I can only imagine the amount of time and effort you’ve put into this guide. Thank you!