Imports of digital TV sets to North Korea are sharply higher in the first few months of this year compared to last year, according to Yonhap News.
Citing data from the Korea International Trade Association, Yonhap said China shipped just under $18 million worth of digital TVs to North Korea in the first four months of 2014, up 338 percent from the $4 million in the same period of 2013.
Yonhap tied the rise to earlier reports than North Korea is planning to introduce digital TV broadcasting.
In March 2013, a report on the Naenara website said trial broadcasting had begun in 2012.
“On the basis of the trial introduction of digital TV broadcasting last year the ministry is working to lay the material and technical foundation for applying it stage by stage while developing programs and introducing facilities,” it said.
But tying digital TV imports to the launch of digital TV broadcasting in North Korea isn’t necessarily correct.
Most if not all flat-panel televisions these days come with built-in digital and analog tuners. It’s quite possible that North Koreans want the flat-panel models but will only use them with an analog input.
Still, it does appear that the country is on the road to a digital TV launch at some point.
To-date, there has been no mention of the broadcasting format that will be used.
The American ATSC system, used in South Korea, is unlikely to be used so the DPRK is likely choosing between DVB-T, a European standard used in most of the world, and China’s DTMB system.