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’s new satellite control center has been located.
Thanks to TV images broadcast on state television, Curtis Melvin was quickly able to match the building with one he’d been observing under construction in central Pyongyang. He reports it’s in the Pothonggang District and estimates the size at about 570 square meters.
Satellite images available through Google Earth indicate construction was begun sometime between April 13 and July 3, 2014.
It took over a clearing that had been cut out of the surrounding forest for several years.
A Taiwanese businessman has been sentenced to 3 years probation and a $250 fine for his part in an attempt to export sanctioned equipment from the U.S. to North Korea.
Yueh Hsun “Gary” Tsai was sentenced on Friday at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago after pleading guilty to creating a fake bill of landing.
His sentencing came several weeks after this father, Hsien Tai “Alex” Tsai, was sentenced to two years for conspiring to defraud the U.S. in its enforcement of laws and regulations prohibiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. More >
North Korea has built a new satellite control center, according to state-run media reports on Sunday.
Existence of the center was revealed with news that Kim Jong Un visited the site recently. The exact date of the visit or its location wasn’t disclosed.
A little of the center could be seen in images carried by KCNA.
A NASA satellite has captured the seasonal fires burning across North Korea at present as farmers clear land for fresh crops.
In images snapped by its Terra satellite, smoke can be seen getting carried by the wind right across the Sea of Japan to over Hokkaido and northern Japan.
I now have the full video of the incident on Thursday at the United Nations when a North Korean diplomat interrupted a discussion on human rights.
It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.
At the meeting, the diplomat began speaking just after a defector ended his speech and without being recognized by the chair, journalist Barbara Demick. After giving him a few moments to speak, Demick asked them to reserve their comments for the question and answer period, but they continued.
You can see the whole thing here.