Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who spotted this fascinating account in The Mayo News:
Michael Commins on his remarkable communication from inside North Korea
THE Korean peninsula dominates world news coverage this week.
[…]Around 1988, after becoming engrossed in the hobby, I also bought the acclaimed Sony 2001D shortwave radio from Padraig Gilmore of Gilmore Electrical in Claremorris. Padraig was a genius when it came to radios and he also had a huge interest in shortwave listening.
I recall listening to the last broadcast of Radio Berlin and tuning in on a weekly basis to some favourite shows on The Voice of America, Radio Netherlands, Radio Havana (still broadcasting on 6000khz), Radio Prague, Radio Moscow (with their powerful transmitters on numerous frequencies), Radio Canada International, HCJB from Quito in Ecuador, Vatican Radio, and a host of the stations from around the world.
[…]On a few occasions, I managed to pick up the English language broadcast of Radio Pyongyang from North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). I posted some reception reports to them and got back their radio schedules and QSL cards as well as some cultural material.
One day in the 1990s, I received an extraordinary letter from a person at the international radio station in North Korea. It was smuggled out of the country and posted in Japan. There was no internet and no Facebook back then. Shortwave radio was the only way to get news broadcast across thousands of miles.
Today, for the first time I reveal some of the contents of the letter but am still reluctant to state the date I received the letter (which I wrote on the back of it) … just in case.
Here are some extracts:
“I am writing this letter to tell you we are tired of repeating the same programs all the year round. We may deal with fresh information when we air the news about foreign countries, but when we are told to air radio commentaries we in most cases try to search similar programs we had once aired previously.
“This is the safest way to be faithful to our duty because we are told to quote some phrases from the remarks of our Great Leader Kim II Sung or Dear Leader Kim Jong II whenever we draft the manuscript of the commentaries. This is why we have been repeating the same tones for years.
“No freedom of speech nor of association exists in my country. You will never notice any dark side of our society when you listen to our radio programs.
“The reality of my country is that the people, especially those living outside of Pyongyang are suffering from the severe shortages of food and daily commodities. They are urged to engage in the campaign to take two meals, instead of three meals, a day.
“I don’t think our closed-door policy will last forever, and sometime, in the future and all of a sudden the people will rise up against the government. I think now is the time for the intellectuals to come to the rescue of our fatherland”.
This letter has been kept safe and sound over the years, between the covers of ‘The Moscow Correspondents’, a fine book by Whitman Bassow, former Moscow Bureau Chief of Newsweek, which provides wonderful insights into the USSR over generations.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who writes:
I put up a couple of videos on my “Willow Slough DX” YouTube channel nine hours ago that may rate at least an Arte Johnson (Laugh-in) “verrry interestink”. These are two videos of the North Korean shortwave station Voice of Korea operating with their new time zone and on their new schedule.
These are the two most recent videos of SW station receptions that I have posted during the last couple of days.
[The first video] is the VOK shortwave sign-on recorded at the newly scheduled time of 04:00, May 5, 2018 UTC on 15180 kHz. Distance: 5600 miles. Receiver: Sangean ATS-909X. Antenna: suburban 83m horizontal loop. Receiver location: Davis, California, USA. North Korea has changed its time zone to match UTC +9 which is used by South Korea. I was accustomed to tuning in Voice of Korea at 38 minutes past the scheduled hour for the English language news. Now I tune in at 8 minutes past the same hour. VOK broadcasts that were scheduled for 04:30 UTC now begin at 04:00 UTC. At the time I write this VOK shortwave programs listed on Short-Wave.info still show the old times:
Thanks for sharing this, Dan! It never crossed my mind that VOK would change their international broadcast time based on the fact they shifted their country’s time zone. From a North Korean perspective, though, I suppose this makes sense. Thanks for the tip!
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:
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