Propaganda from the source: Listening to the Voice of Korea on shortwave radio

FlagNorthKoreaOne of the countries dominating the headlines of global news lately is North Korea. As Kim Jong-un raises tensions and rattles his nuclear saber, the rest of the world is attempting to determine if this is a egotistical show of power for the benefit of all observers (as with previous leaders) or if there is real intention behind the rhetoric.

Just this morning Pyongyang has warned that Tokyo would be a primary strike target if war were to break out, or if their test missile is downed; they’ve even moved their missile launch pad into position.

Regardless of outcome of these provocations, I know that the bulk of the North Korean population will suffer. North Korean mainstream “news” consists of images of military parades in the immaculate capital city of Pyongyang; but the reality is that most of the population live in rural North Korea, which is subject to severe food shortages and extreme poverty.

We know North Korea is a country that carefully controls and manipulates their media internally; they also broadcast the same flavor of propaganda externally on shortwave radio via the Voice of Korea.

As shortwave radio listeners, we have the distinct advantage of being able to listen directly to the case of North Korea. We can actually hear (and analyze for ourselves) the North Korea propaganda directly from the source. Note that it’s not uncommon for the Voice of Korea to unexpectedly go off air, likely due to power shortages: this fact is much more suggestive of the of general conditions in the country than the “news” itself.

Depending on where you live in the world, your ability to hear the (relatively weak) Voice of Korea will vary.  If you live in the Asia/Pacific region, the station is very audible.

Yesterday morning at 10:00 UTC, I recorded an hour of their English broadcast to South America on 11.71 MHz. You can download an mp3 of the recording by clicking here, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Below, you’ll find the current broadcast schedule for the Voice of Korea English service courtesy of North Korea Tech:

NorthKoreaMapVOK English (time in UTC)

  • 04:00 on 7220, 9445, 9730 kHz to Northeast Asia
  • 04: 00 on 11735, 13760, 15180 kHz to Central & South America
  • 05:00 on 13650, 15105 kHz to Southeast Asia
  • 06:00 on 7220, 9445, 9730 kHz to Northeast Asia
  • 10:00 on 11710, 15180 kHz to Central & South America
  • 10:00 on 11735, 13650 kHz to Southeast Asia
  • 13:00 on 13760, 15245 kHz to Western Europe
  • 13:00 on 9435, 11710 kHz to North America
  • 15:00 on 13760, 15245 kHz to Western Europe
  • 15:00 on 9435, 11710 kHz to North America
  • 16:00 on 9890, 11645 kHz to Near & Middle East; North Africa
  • 18:00 on 13760, 15245 kHz to Western Europe
  • 19:00 on 7210, 11910 kHz to South Africa
  • 19:00 on 9875, 11635 kHz to Near & Middle East; North Africa
  • 21:00 on 13760, 15245 kHz to Western Europe

For a full schedule of the Voice of Korea, please visit this page on North Korea Tech.

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7 thoughts on “Propaganda from the source: Listening to the Voice of Korea on shortwave radio

  1. Xiao Wei

    If I use a Sangean ATS-909x in Midwestern America, can I hear the Voice of Korea? Or is that too weak of a radio? If so, can you please suggest one that can pick it up? Thank you so much! And thank you for the article. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      It could be a challenge, though I’ve never tried listening to VOK in the mid west. It’s certainly a challenge here in the eastern US.

      You could try attaching a 15-20 foot length of wire to the 909X (I don’t think that would overload the front-end) and using it outside to tune in VOK. If propagation is good, you just might hear them. Their interval signal is quite distinctive. Listen here:
      http://shortwavearchive.com/archive/spx9cnv4t1h6ckbx2bnzvtupcp64ui

      Otherwise, you will increase your chances dramatically with a good tabletop receiver or SDR combined with a decent outdoor antenna.

      Perhaps readers in the mid-west could comment.

      Good luck!
      Thomas

      Reply
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  5. Alex

    The 18:00 GMT transmission to Europe could hardly be heard here in Germany: On 13,760 kHz Radio Peking was much stronger. By comparison to 15,245 kHz I could identify their interval sign below Radio Peking.

    On 15,245 kHz I could understand “Korea” but not much more. Neither my NRD-525G nor playing with AM/USB/LSB/ATT made them really understandable. The signal was at least 20 dB weaker than most signal near by. The noise sounded like intermodulation but did not react to the attenuator. And my RX should not have these problems…

    Their news started at 18:08 GMT with music till then.

    Reply
  6. Keith Perron

    There have been some very odd transmissions from them recently form a technical standpoint. Today on 15180khz there were two languages going out at the same time. When I checked other transmissions it was also the same.

    Reply

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