The design of the website of North Korea’s main daily newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, was refreshed on Monday.
The new site has fewer pictures on the front page and leads with a list of stories.
And being North Korean, features detailing the work of Kim Jong Un receive top billing.
Tokyo’s best source of North Korean books is no more.
The Korea Book Center has shuttered its website a month after its physical store was closed.
The store in the Hakusan neighborhood was operated by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, better known locally as “Chosen Soren,” and provided a place to pick up books, CD-ROMs, VHS tapes and DVDs published in North Korea.
There was a little bit of excitement among North Korea watchers, myself included, earlier this year when the state TV broadcaster, Korean Central Television, took its first step towards high-definition broadcasting.
It was signaled by a switch in satellite transmission formats that increased the available screen resolution by more than five times, from just over 414,000 pixels to more than 2 million pixels.
That’s a big deal because getting information out of North Korea is difficult. Sharper, clearer pictures provide a look at North Korea that’s literally much more detailed. It will be easier to see the faces of officials several steps behind Kim Jong Un, the writing on posters and signs on walls and the daily changes taking place in Pyongyang.
To get an idea of the difference, take a look at these images. First the conventional standard definition image:
North Korean TV news doesn’t change very much.
Centrally programmed from Pyongyang, the news can be counted on the provide an update of the work of Kim Jong Un (usually depicted in still photos rather than video), commentary on issues in South Korea and the U.S., reports on innovation in industry, medicine, education and farming, and then the weather report.
There’s not much more to it, so when something changes, it’s worth noting no matter how small the change.
Recently, I spotted a couple of reports that do away with the stale graphics of the past for something that looks a bit more modern. They are part of a gradual modernization of the look of North Korean TV that began in 2012 with the donation of US$800,000 worth of equipment from China Central Television and recently included an update to the opening sequence of the main evening news.
A couple of weeks ago I reported that satellite monitors had found a new feed of Korean Central Television on Intelsat 21, a satellite above the Atlantic that covers all of the Americas and west Europe.
Today I had a chance to check it out.
North Korea is the second most-censored nation on earth, according to a new ranking by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
For anyone that knows North Korea or has been paying attention to press freedom studies and rankings, the news hardly comes as a surprise.
The government has complete control over the news media, which is limited to a handful of outlets that all report and reflect the official viewpoint. More >
Korean Central Television has appeared on a satellite above the Atlantic Ocean, extending coverage of its live signal to the Americas and Europe.
The TV channel, which is North Korea’s main state-run TV service, began broadcasting on Intelsat 21 earlier in April, according to monitoring reports.
KCTV has been available for more than a decade on Thaicom 5, which is situated above the Indian Ocean and puts a signal into most of Asia, Africa and Europe, except the extreme western edges.
The Intelsat 21 satellite has a footprint that covers all of the Americas and the western portion of Europe, providing coverage to areas not served by Thaicom.
Here’s the area covered by the satellite:
Voice of Korea, North Korea’s international shortwave broadcasting station, will use the following schedule from March 29 for roughly six months.
The broadcasts follow the same basic line-up each day.
:00 Opening signal, station identification: “This is Voice of Korea”
:01 National Anthem
:03 Song of General Kim Il Sung
:06 Song of General Kim Jong Il
:09 News, editorials (approx 15 minutes, but can be extended to full broadcast), followed by music More >