South Korea’s jamming of North Korean radio

Tuning into Pyongyang Broadcasting Station on 657kHz in Paju, South Korea.
Tuning into Pyongyang Broadcasting Station on 657kHz in Paju, South Korea.

Tuning into Pyongyang Broadcasting Station on 657kHz in Paju, South Korea.

North Korea’s attempts to block the flow of information from the outside world to its people are well know and well documented, but much less known is South Korea’s attempts to keep its citizens from having unrestricted access to media from North Korea.

The country’s national Internet firewall makes it fairly easy to keep curious South Korean eyes away from sites like the Korean Central News Agency and Rodong Sinmun, but what about radio waves that travel freely across the border?

It turns out the South Korean government doesn’t want its people listening to those either. A network of jamming transmitters blocks reception of North Korean radio broadcasts in Seoul and the surrounding areas, but it’s not quite as complete as the Internet blockade.

In late May I traveled to Seoul to document the current state of South Korea’s radio jamming and discovered it’s enough to stop casual listeners from tuning into the news, music and propaganda that comes from Pyongyang each day, but it’s a low barrier.

There’s a surprisingly easy way to get around the jamming and listen to North Korea’s two major radio networks: the Korean Central Broadcasting Station and Pyongyang Broadcasting Station, even in downtown Seoul. A little travel also gave me a chance to hear a couple of FM radio stations: Pyongyang FM Broadcasting Station and Echo of Unification.

The findings are split across a couple of articles on NK News, which should be accessible to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. You can also find audio recordings of the radio stations and the jamming.

Part One: Seoul’s North Korean jamming: AM and shortwave.

Part Two: Seoul’s North Korean jamming: catching FM stations.

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