US legislation authorizes $50 million for broadcasts into North Korea

(Photo: VOA)

(Photo: VOA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andrea Borgnino, who shares this article from Fox News:

Seeking to derail North Korea’s drive for nuclear weapons, Republican and Democratic senators set aside their partisan differences Wednesday to unanimously pass legislation aimed at starving Pyongyang of the money it needs to build an atomic arsenal.

[…]The Senate bill, authored by Menendez and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., targets North Korea’s ability to finance the development of miniaturized nuclear warheads and the long-range missiles required to deliver them. The legislation also authorizes $50 million over the next five years to transmit radio broadcasts into North Korea, purchase communications equipment and support humanitarian assistance programs.

The legislation comes in the wake of Pyongyang’s recent satellite launch and technical advances that U.S. intelligence agencies said the reclusive Asian nation is making in its nuclear weapons program.[…]

Read the full article at Fox News…

P5/3Z9DX: Successful ham radio activation of North Korea

NorthKoreaMap(Source: Southgate ARC)

Ham radio activation of North Korea

The ARRL reports the first amateur radio operation from Pyongyang, N.Korea in 13 years took place on December 20.

In an unexpected turn of events, Polish DXer Dom Gryzb, 3Z9DX, who has been visiting North Korea this week in advance of a planned Amateur Radio operation early next year, came on the air from the most-wanted DXCC entity around 0000 on December 20. P5/3Z9DX has been active on both 20 meters and 15 meters SSB only, and a few hundred stations have been fortunate enough to work him.

Propagation was unfavorable due to a geomagnetic storm that seems to have affected his efforts on 20 meters. He also reported that he faced extremely high ambient noise levels in Pyongyang. He ran 100 W to a vertical antenna mounted on a metal fencepost some 7 feet above the ground among government high-rise buildings.

Read the two ARRL stories:

North Korea on the Air for First Time Since 2002
http://www.arrl.org/news/north-korea-on-the-air-for-first-time-since-2002

P5/3Z9DX Concludes Demonstration Operation from North Korea
http://www.arrl.org/news/p5-3z9dx-concludes-demonstration-operation-from-north-korea

Could radio be a catalyst for revolution in North Korea?

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley for sharing this article from The Guardian. The following is an excerpt:

Kim Cheol-su, who was born in Pyongsong City and defected from North Korea last year, says that up to 30-40% of DPRK citizens now listen to pirate radio, and that listening to the broadcasts made him realise the true nature of Kim Jong-un’s dictatorship.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion on the implications of the broadcasts in Seoul – and of the North’s thundering reaction – he said: “Children know that Kim Jong-un weighs more than 100kg. It’s because they are repeating what they hear from their parents, who listen to these foreign programmes.”

He added that the majority of North Korean citizens, desperate for news of the outside world, listen to the propaganda broadcasts which fan the flames of their doubt about the regime. The majority of those who flee to the South do so after hearing the broadcasts, he claimed.

“Before listening to the broadcasts, the citizens have no idea. But after they hear them, they realise the fact that the regime is deceiving people. They share what they have heard with their neighbours and friends.”

Kim also highlighted the fact that he heard about the Arab Spring movement through the broadcasts, and learned of the death of Libya’s former president, Muammar Gaddafi. “If the UN were to guarantee for us, as they did for Libya, help in opposing the regime, I believe that we would revolt as well,” he said.

Kim said lot of people listen to Radio Free Asia, as it comes in the clearest. “Personally, there were some programmes I liked on Open Radio for North Korea, so I used to tune in to those as well. However, short, one-hour programs were easy to miss. They were often finished by the time I found the frequency they were on.”

As for the contents of the broadcasts, Kim said having defectors talk freely about their lives was the best approach, and that programmes should include information on how to defect, offering examples of the kind of support and policies that exist for defectors in the South.

Read the full article at The Guardian online.

The vital role of radio in North Korea

North-Korea-Propaganda

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Ulis, who recently shared a link to this story in the DailyNK.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the case of loudspeaker broadcasts, which roiled the North, eventually leading to artillery fire, it can only be heard 25km into the North from the demilitarized zone, but in the case of radio broadcasts, many North Koreans can gain access, which is why it’s believed to a play a larger role in psychological warfare.

“After listening to the radio, I naturally found myself comparing things with the reality in North Korea,” Chae Ga Yeon (50), a North Korean defector who used to enjoy tuning into radio broadcasts, told Daily NK on Wednesday. “Having learned about things that are different from state propaganda, I took on a more critical way of thinking toward the state, and I started to realize Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are not gods as the state claims. They started to look like average human beings,” she said.

“People who have tuned into broadcasts like these don’t keep the information to themselves. They share it with others,” Chae explained. “This makes other people listen in on the broadcasts as well, and they start being more critical against the state that is blocking out the information.”

Kim Seong Yeob (45) is another escapee who also tuned into these broadcasts. “North Korean broadcasts are not interesting since all they do is focus on idolization, so I enjoyed listening to South Korean broadcasts since they would share different news stories and air radio dramas as well,” Kim said. “Then I came to open my eyes to the false propaganda and developed this desire to learn more about society in North Korea and study it,” he recalled.[…]

Experts believe these broadcasts can expedite change in people’s awareness in North Korea. Given that state dominance over information is the control mechanism used over North Koreans, they believe information from outside can deal a severe blow to the North Korean system.

Click here to read the full article at the DailyNK…

Daily NK and Unification Media Group will post a series of nine articles on the effects of broadcasts to North Korea. Check the DailyNK website for updates.

As we mentioned in a previous post, the BBC has announced plans to broadcast to North Korea in the near future via shortwave. Bloomberg Business reports, however, that these broadcasts may never happen due to the potential for political backlash.

To follow all of our North Korea posts, bookmark this tag.

BBC sets plans for next decade

BBC-AT-WARMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bill, for sharing a link to this article which summarizes the BBC’s plans for the next ten years.

BBC director general, Tony Hall, said the corporation will become an “open BBC for the internet age”.

While Hall was quick to add that funding cuts would equate to “the loss or reduction of some services” he also highlighted several efforts that would include shortwave and mediumwave broadcasts, including:

  • “Significant investment” in the BBC World Service, including a daily news programme for North Korea and more broadcasts to Russia, India and the Middle East
  • A news service for Ethiopia and Eritrea on medium wave and short wave

Of course, we can expect more cuts to BBC World Service shortwave broadcasting over the next ten years even if it wasn’t specifically mentioned in Hall’s speech. If we’re lucky, the BBC will continue to broadcast into those parts of the world that still rely on shortwave. Specifically mentioning North Korea, Ethiopia and Eritrea appears to be a nod in that direction.

Click here to read this article on the BBC News website.

Also, The Guardian has posted the full text of Tony Hall’s speech. It’s worth reading.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Voice of Korea

North-Korea-Propaganda

Many thanks to Frank, a contributor at the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive, for this recording of the Voice of Korea’s English language service.

Frank recorded VOK from his home in Europe on June 10, 2015 on 13760 kHz, starting at 21:00 UTC, using a Kenwood R-5000 receiver and a Wellbrook ALA 1530+ antenna.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Remember, you can subscribe and download the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive collection (free!) as a podcast via iTunes or the SWAA RSS feed.

When held captive, radio provides escape

Analog Radio DialMany thanks to Any Sennitt who shares a link to this article by Telegraph journalist, 

(Source: The Telegraph via Andy Sennitt)

Along with the glaciers of the Arctic and the sand dunes of the Sahara, northern Somalia is one of the loneliest, most godforsaken places I’ve ever visited as a foreign correspondent. You can wander its Arizona-like landscape for days without seeing another soul, and when I was held hostage there in 2008, I could see why so many British troops posted to Somalia after the Second World War committed suicide through loneliness.

That I did not succumb to the same urge is thanks to many factors – one being the good cheer of the photographer held captive alongside me, another being the Telegraph’s heroic efforts in securing our release.

But during the six weeks we spent held at gunpoint in a cave, one thing that stemmed the despair was the tiny, battery-operated radio that our kidnappers sometimes lent us. On the short wave channel we could get a faint BBC World Service signal, and while it was often fuzzy as it bounced round the cave’s walls, it was better than yet another game on our chess set made from cigarette foil.

So I’m pleased to hear that this lifeline is now being extended to inmates of another, much larger prison – the 25 million citizens of North Korea, who are denied access to any outside media by their leader, Kim Jong-un. As the Telegraph disclosed on Thursday, the World Service is to plan a new North Korea channel, giving the country’s brain-washed citizens a much-needed alternative to the relentless propaganda of the world’s last Stalinist regime.

[Continue reading at The Telegraph…]