The question of a BBC Korean-language service was back in the U.K. parliament last week when the House of Lords heard a motion to “take note of the role the BBC World Service and the British Council in promoting British values and interests worldwide.”
While the speeches in the House of Lords weren’t focused on Korea, a number spoke on the subject including Lord Eames, who was Archbishop of Armagh from 1986 until 2006. A year later in 2007, he led a delegation on a humanitarian visit to North Korea as one of the most senior members of the Anglican Church.
He related a conversation he’d had while in the country.
“From a most unlikely source, there was a remark that will live with me for a very long time,” he said, according to Hansard. “Obviously, I cannot disclose the complete circumstances, but the words speak for themselves. ‘Where’, he said to me, ‘is the BBC?’.”
“If you knew the person who said that, the circumstances and the position that he held, it would set the balance right of many of the impressions that we have of what is going on in North Korea. Those words speak louder than statistics, transmission problems and the facilities needed, and I convey them to the House with great feeling,” he said.
Calls continue on the BBC to launch a Korean-language service but the World Service, which is now entirely funding by TV license payers in the U.K., has so far resisted the pressure. International radio, typically transmitted on shortwave, remains the only way that most North Koreans can hear daily uncensored news from around the world.