The programme is being carried by World Radio Network, a London-based organization that rebroadcasts material from international radio stations on its own satellite channels and via FM relays in several countries.
Most of the WRN programming is received in studio quality via satellite or Internet, but the Voice of Korea programs are a recording from the shortwave broadcasts.
That means they come with all the atmospheric interference and fading that is typical of shortwave.
For the daily news, the audio clips on the Voice of Korea website are better quality, but the WRN recordings are of the full 57-minute broadcast, and include the music and other features that make up the daily programme. These aren’t available via the Voice of Korea website. WRN offers only the English programme.
If you don’t have a shortwave radio, or are fed up with transmissions at inconvenient times of day, check out the on-demand recording broadcasts.
WRN says it’s providing the broadcasts as a public service and is looking at the possibility of using the high-quality stream that’s carried alongside North Korean television on the Thaicom 5 satellite.
The 16th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair wrapped up at the end of last week. I‘ve taken a look through some of the footage from Korean national television and KCNA and spotted a few companies that were exhibiting.
At last year’s trade fair, the Korea Computer Center debuted a new tablet PC. This year didn’t see any major launches of new IT equipment, at least according to the media coverage, but there were tablet computers on show.
One of the companies highlighted in the national TV coverage was Achim Panda Computer JV, also known as Morning Panda Computer. The company was established in 2002 with China’s Panda Electronics. Kim Jong Il visited the Nanjing Panda factory in 2011 during his trip to China.
As usual, the products on show included the big, like CNC machine tools and cars, the high-tech, like tablet computers, and the edible, like food and drink.
The CNC machines were being shown by Ryonha Machine Tool, which Curtis Melvin has profiled on NK Econwatch. The company has factories in Pyongyang and Huichon, but is hobbled by the inclusion of its parent company, Korea Ryonbong General Corporation, on the U.N. sanctions list.
There was also the luxurious: Tissot watches were on show by P&G Co. The company was profiled in “Foreign Trade” in 2007 and described as “a selling agent of the Swiss watchmakers, serving concurrently as the Koryo Association for the Development of Economic Cooperation (KAD).”
Here are some of the companies that were spotted in the video coverage:
- Ryonha Machine Tool
- Puhung Trading General Corp.
- P & G Co.
- Jangsu Trading Co.
- High-Tech Development Center
- Kumunsan Trading Corp.
- R.C.E. Technology JV
- Achim Panda Computer JV
- MT Regional Resources Sdn Bhd
- Metals & Mining Corp.
- Manbok JV
- Kimhwa Trading Corp.
- Korea Insam Trading Corp.
- Dandong KPR Electronic Co. Ltd.
- Digital Info Technology Pty Ltd.
- Korean Polish Shipping
And here’s a gallery of some of the companies and products on show. Widescreen (16:9) images are from KCNA, standard aspect ratio (4:3) images are from KCTV.
The recent addition of North Korea to Google’s Maps service made up a small part of the company’s presentation to developers at its annual conference on Wednesday.
Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps, spoke about adding data and what it meant during at keynote speech at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.
North Korea had been a largely white area of Google Maps until it started publishing user-supplied data. Now a little information on Pyongyang and some of the major towns is included in the service, although it’s still far from complete.
Curtis Melvin’s North Korea Uncovered, even in the latest public edition from 2009, has considerably more information about North Korea. It can be loaded in Google Earth.
Curtis admits to some mistakes in the 2009 version that have since been updated. Some of those same mistakes are present in the data submitted to Google by users, which gives you an idea where some of those users are getting their information.
Google has posted video of Eric Schmidt’s remarks at the recent “Big Tent” event in Washington, D.C.
The Google-organized events act as idea summits and have been running for about three years and the D.C. event took place on April 26.
During his speech, the chairman of Google talked about North Korea and the impact that the connected world, and the Internet in particular, would have on authoritarian countries.
“In North Korea we visited with the government, of course that’s all there is in North Korea, and we went to the Korea Computer Center and they asked us all about future versions of Android,” he said in the speech. “Obviously they have access, at least in the government, to what we are doing, as if I was going to tell the future roadmap of Android to the North Koreans. I obviously didn’t.”
I’ve been waiting for the video to verify exactly what he said after a report in the Chosun Ilbo made it seem like the North Koreans were asking Schmidt for top-secret software code. (see image, right)
In fact, rather than trying “to get classified software technology” as the Chosun Ilbo painted, it appears the computer scientists just wanted to know what features would be available in future versions of Android. Pretty much everyone in the mobile industry has the same question — something Google could reveal that later this week at its I/O conference in San Francisco.
Getting Android doesn’t even need Google’s permission. The basic version of Android is open-source software that can be freely downloaded from the Internet. An export license may officially be required, but that doesn’t appear to have been a hurdle so far.
That basic version doesn’t include the Google services, like Gmail, Maps or YouTube. For those apps a licensing agreement is required with Google.
Beyond the North Korea-specific comments, the whole thing is worth watching if you’re interested in what’s driving Schmidt these days. Listen and it will become clear that his January trip to Pyongyang wasn’t at all about opening up North Korea to Google, but about opening up a dialogue with the country about it’s coming transition to a more connected place. That’s something he sees as inevitable.
“We’re going to see this one-way valve from the connected world to the non-connected world, and this is going to happen whether we like it or not,” he said.
More connectivity will not only transform the lives of North Koreans, but has the chance to fundamentally change the way the rest of the world looks at North Korea. Right now, too much of the world views North Korea by its government’s actions and sees the people as nothing more than a brain-washed populous. Schmidt argues that will change.
“All of a sudden we’re going to hear the distinct voices of citizens in those countries in a way we’ve never heard before, and by the way, they’re just like us. They’re human beings, they’re curious, they want the right things for their children, they want good health, they don’t want war, all those kinds of things,” he said.
But he acknowledges that authoritarian governments are going to push against further expansion of communications technology.
“Governments are going to work really, really hard to stop this because they way to really get a dictator going is to threaten their authority, which is the way revolutions occur,” he said.
There was a final shout-out to North Korea, when Schmidt said he viewed the country as the second worst for connectivity and flow of information in the world.
“What’s interesting is that I had always thought the worst place was North Korea, and I’ve since discovered there is an even worse place, which is Eritrea, which I have not yet been able to go to but is my objective,” Schmidt said.
Eritrea usually sits with North Korea at the bottom of the Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House press freedom rankings.
Reporters Without Borders recently characterized Eritrea as, “a vast open prison for its people.”
A weekend attack on North Korean websites staged by members of the Anonymous hacker group appears to have caused some problems for the sites.
Connections to several major Pyongyang-based sites, including the Korean Central News Agency and Voice of Korea, were slow although successful in several tests done in the first few hours of the coordinated attack, which began at 1am GMT on Sunday.
Those results are in contrast to a previous series of attacks that took the sites offline for days. That difference was acknowledged by an Anonymous Korea Twitter message:
North Korea has reconfigured its Internet connection since the last round of major attacks. Previously its Internet servers were connected to the rest of the Internet via only two links: a link to China Unicom and a back-up satellite connection. Now a third link, to China Unicom Hong Kong, has been added.
It’s not clear if the difference in effectiveness this time around was due to the smaller scale of the attack or the new connection.
Since before this weekend’s attacks, Anonymous hackers have been promising a large campaign against North Korean sites on June 25, which is the anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
Members of the Anonymous hacking group say they are planning to re-launch attacks on North Korean websites from Sunday. [Updated. See below.]
In messages posted to Twitter, several Anonymous members said the “#OpNorthKorea” attacks would resume on May 12 from 1am GMT, that’s 10am in the morning Pyongyang time.
OpNorthKorea first began in late March, shortly after North Korean media said relations between it and South Korea were “at a state of war.” It took the form of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which involves flooding a website with so many requests for data that it becomes overloaded.
The attacks were successful in taking several major Pyongyang-based websites offline including Naenara, Korean Central News Agency, Air Koryo and Voice of Korea.
This next round of attacks are targeted at all websites that are run from Pyongyang, according to Twitter messages.
Missing from the Twitter list is Uriminzokkiri, the China-based site that hosts official media and produces its own propaganda.
Uriminzokkiri was hacked by Anonymous resulting in the defacing of its website and the leaking of names, addresses and email addresses of its 15,000 members.
In reaction to the hacking, Uriminzokkiri claimed that South Korea’s government and in particular the National Intelligence Service was actually behind the attack. There’s no evidence that is the case, but it does fit in with the North’s propaganda aims of blaming such incidents on the government of the South.
After the previous attacks, North Korea was seen to adjust its national connection to the Internet, adding a new link to China Unicom’s network in Hong Kong.
The connection appears to be an attempt to mitigate the DDoS attacks, but whether it works or not won’t be known until Sunday’s attacks begin.
North Korea Tech has a widget on the right-hand side of the home page that indicates whether major North Korean websites are online or offline.
Anonymous had previously said it would relaunch attacks on June 25, which is the the day in 1950 when the Korean War began.
A hit list of North Korean sites was also published, but it appeared to be based on an out-of-date list. Several of the sites listed have not been in operation for several years.
Seconds after this story ran, and apparently by coincidence, the Anonymous hacker listed above posted a Twitter message including Uriminzokkiri and other China-based websites.
The Chinese military isn’t providing any special help to the Korea People’s Army (KPA) on a regular basis, according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia.
David Helvey was speaking to the press in Washington on Monday afternoon after the department published its annual report on military and security developments involving China. North Korea comes up just twice in the unclassified version of the report, and both times they are as passing references.
At the news conference, Helvey was asked if there is any evidence that China is sharing any of its advanced war fighting capabilities with partners and allies “such as North Korea” during joint training exercises.
Despite a number of joint training exercises, China doesn’t often roll out its most advanced capabilities.
“To date, a lot of those training and exercise activities focus on, I would say, more conventional and less advanced military areas, like search-and-rescue or counter-piracy or counterterrorism,” said Helvey. “It’s very rare that we’ve seen China use advanced military equipment in these exercises.”
Asked about the situation on the Korean peninsula, Helvey said, “We continue monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula very carefully, and we maintain very close consultation and communication with our Republic of Korea allies, our other allies and partners in the region, and diplomatically, as well, with China, and Russia. It’s a very serious situation, and we’ll continue to monitor it very, very carefully.”
The China report was published a week after the Department of Defense produced its annual report on North Korea.
Here’s the relevant part of the news conference:
U.S. prosecutors have indicted a Taiwanese father and son on charges related to the supply of machinery to North Korea that could be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction.
Hsien Tai “Alex” Tsai, 67, and his son, Yueh Hsun “Gary” Tsai, 36, were charged during a Monday afternoon hearing at federal court in Chicago. Both were arrested last week.
Alex Tsai was picked up in Estonia, where he remains in custody awaiting extradition to the U.S., and Gary Tsai was arrested at his home in Glenview, Illinios. Gary Tsai is a legal permanent resident of the U.S.
In two almost identical 34-page indictments, filed in mid-April but only unsealed today, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation lays out a series of attempts by the two to obtain and export precision metal fabrication equipment.
The two individuals and a third Taiwanese business associate attempted to hide the purchases by using three Taiwanese companies: Global Interface Company (全球介面公司), Trans Merits (蓮笙興業有限公司), and Trans Multi Mechanics, the FBI alleges.
It detailed three alleged transactions that took place in the latter half of 2008, just months before the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Alex Tsai, his wife and two of the companies as proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.
The designation, which came while some of the machinery was still on a ship yet to reach Taiwan, said Tsai had provided, or attempted to provide, “financial, technological or other support for, or goods or services in support of the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID).” KOMID (조선광업개발무역회사) has been accused of dealing in weapons of mass destruction or ballistic missiles.
But that didn’t stop Tsai, according to the complaint.
In September 2009, he purchased and exported machinery under the name of Trans Multi Mechanics and started conducing business under a new company, Factory Direct Machine Tools, the complaint said.
As a result of the charges, the two both face one count of conspiring to defraud the U.S. in its enforcement of laws and regulations prohibiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by conspiring to evade the restrictions imposed on Alex Tsai and two of his companies by the U.S. Treasury Department, and one count of money laundering.
The two former charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison and fines of $1 million and $500,000 respectively. The money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.