Tag Archives: Kim Jong-un

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.


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.

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The Voice of Korea and an inspirational story

FlagNorthKoreaMany 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 March 27, 2014, on 7,570 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:

Of course, the Voice of Korea is all about broadcasting hard-core propaganda–a type of broadcast I find incredibly fascinating. But let there be no mistake, to live in the DPRK is to live under one of the world’s most oppressive regimes. If you want to hear a moving, inspirational story about one North Korean woman’s escape from the DPRK, check out Hyeonseo Lee’s: My escape from North Korea, a TED Talk:

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

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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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