The proposed sale of an AM station along the Mexico-U.S. border to a group of Chinese investors has stoked fears that the 50,000-watt station will be used to infiltrate the U.S. with Chinese propaganda. Spanish news-talk “W-Radio 690” XEWW (690), which blankets Southern California from Tijuana, is being sold by Mexican broadcaster GLR to Chinese investment group H&H Group USA, owned by Vivian Huo, a U.S. citizen who runs the investment firm H&H Capital Partners.[…]
Front page of the North Korean newspaper “Rodong” on April 28, 2018. (Source: Mark Fahey)
With North Korea in the global spotlight, I’ve been making every effort to listen to the Voice of Korea on shortwave. Unfortunately, from here on the east coast of North America, conditions have simply not been in my favor.
Fortunately, a couple of SWLing Post and SRAA contributors have had my back.
This morning, North Korean propaganda specialist Mark Fahey uploaded the following VOK recording to the archive and included notes and insight:
[The recording is] off 9,730 kHz so a mint shortwave file.
Recorded at the “Behind The Curtain” remote satellite and HF receiving site near Taipei, Taiwan (the site is remotely operated from Freemans Reach in Australia and was specifically established to monitor North Korean radio & television 24×7).
[I] also have long domestic recordings (which is what I have been focusing on rather than VOK).
[…]Of course domestic in Korean – but that has been my main interest/monitoring – what does the regime say to the domestic audience–?
They seem quite serious (I mean genuine) even acknowledging South Korea as a separate place and Moon being the president of this place. The domestic propaganda now not hiding the fact that South Korea is a separate sovereign nation, which is very un-North Korean propaganda!
The news is still kind of breaking in North Korea and the radio reflects that – the reports sound like Friday was yesterday. It takes a long time for North Korean media to report anything, so news from 3 days ago is presented as if it only happened 3 hours ago.
Also since it’s all topical I will include a YouTube link to a Voice Of Korea Documentary (propaganda to our ears of course–!) that has recently been posted to the Arabia Chapter of The Korean Friendship Association:
One of the BBC’s newest radio stations began broadcasting across the Korean peninsula on Tuesday. And the signal was almost immediately jammed by the North Korean government, according to news reports.
[…]But cracks are appearing in the system. InterMedia, a research firm, interviewed defectors from North Korea and found that 48 per cent of them had seen foreign DVDs and 27 per cent had listened to foreign radio, according to a 2013 report.
Defectors aren’t exactly unbiased sources or representative of the North Korean population – they’re people who hated the regime enough to risk their lives fleeing it and who were able to do so – but such surveys are one of the only ways to learn about North Korean television viewing habits.
Some defectors have reported that what they saw in foreign media influenced their decision to leave, according to Williams.
“I think it’s just spreading dissatisfaction, cracking the government’s complete control of information which is one of the central parts of the entire system. If you start to crack away at that then you start to crack away at the system as a whole,” he said.
[…]Although it’s illegal to watch foreign media, many people watch these DVDs or USB sticks filled with movies and South Korean TV shows. South Korean soap operas are popular, said Williams, and are more seditious than romance and melodrama might seem at first glance.
[…]Radios sold in North Korea are modified so they can only tune in to certain frequencies – government-operated North Korean stations, of course. But people do illegally “jailbreak” their radios, says Reporters Without Borders. They can then listen to South Korean stations near the border, or to shortwave foreign broadcasts like the BBC’s and similar ones from Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.
“North Korea does its best to stop the broadcasts coming in but it is the only way that exists at the moment to get current information into the country,” said Williams.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rawad Hamwi, who shares the following recording and notes:
I recorded today part of Voice of Korea news bulletin (english language) when they started talking about what they did regarding the detonation on a H bomb today. You know, such things don’t occur everyday and maybe the last time we heard something similar on shortwave was during the cold war era.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who writes:
A message to contacts in North Asia (Japan / Korea etc)…
North Korea is currently (right now 1430UTC) broadcasting in DRM format on 3560KHz. Listening to remote receivers in Japan I can see the signal is very strong in the Tokyo and Yokohama areas – I assume it will be strong in other parts of Japan as well. I have NOT been able to decode the DRM successfully, I have tried piping the audio to me here in my Australian location and demodulating it with a software DRM decoder – I just can’t get a lock on the signal. Do you have a DRM receiver – could you please try? If you do manage to receive the signal please don’t forget to record it!
I’m particularly interested to know if the transmissions are relays of KCBS Pyongyang, Pyongyang Pangsong or some other service. If you get a demodulated signal could you check to see if the program is parallel to KCBS Pyongyang on 2850KHz or Pyongyang Pangsong on 6400KHz.
I have a WinRadio Excalibur with DRM here in Australia, but the signal is very weak here – far too weak to lock.
NOTE: Same frequency and bitrate as the 2012 broadcasts so this may represent “Chinese assistance”. Can anyone confirm DRM equipment in Kujang?
20170902 Update: I have received anonymous details that indicate that at least the content server is of Chinese origin. Still no word on actual transmit location. Several other Japanese (and Terje in Japan) have successfully decoded these transmissions.
Being a North Korean propaganda specialist, Mark added:
At the Freeman’s Reach monitoring station the bandwidth and microwave paths in are really being tested this afternoon with the full on activity.
All plans for the afternoon and evening now cancelled! YTN (South Korea) via Intelsat, KCTV Pyongyang via Thaicom, CNN International via Foxtel, CNN USA Domestic via Sling, Korean Central Radio and Pyongyang Pansong via KiwiSDRs – Busy!
All spectrum being captured, tonight the servers will be working hard, it will keep this place warm!
Post readers: please comment if you’re able to decode any of these North Korean DRM transmissions, and/or if you have further information about these DRM broadcasts from North Korea.
UPDATE: Mark has at least confirmed that the DRM signal is a relay of the KCBS Pyongyang national service (domestic) broadcast.
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