Posts tagged Korean Central Broadcasting Station

Tuning into Pyongyang Broadcasting Station on 657kHz in Paju, South Korea.

South Korea’s jamming of North Korean radio

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Tuning into Pyongyang Broadcasting Station on 657kHz in Paju, South Korea.

Tuning into Pyongyang Broadcasting Station on 657kHz in Paju, South Korea.

North Korea’s attempts to block the flow of information from the outside world to its people are well know and well documented, but much less known is South Korea’s attempts to keep its citizens from having unrestricted access to media from North Korea.

The country’s national Internet firewall makes it fairly easy to keep curious South Korean eyes away from sites like the Korean Central News Agency and Rodong Sinmun, but what about radio waves that travel freely across the border?

It turns out the South Korean government doesn’t want its people listening to those either. A network of jamming transmitters blocks reception of North Korean radio broadcasts in Seoul and the surrounding areas, but it’s not quite as complete as the Internet blockade.

In late May I traveled to Seoul to document the current state of South Korea’s radio jamming and discovered it’s enough to stop casual listeners from tuning into the news, music and propaganda that comes from Pyongyang each day, but it’s a low barrier.

There’s a surprisingly easy way to get around the jamming and listen to North Korea’s two major radio networks: the Korean Central Broadcasting Station and Pyongyang Broadcasting Station, even in downtown Seoul. A little travel also gave me a chance to hear a couple of FM radio stations: Pyongyang FM Broadcasting Station and Echo of Unification.

The findings are split across a couple of articles on NK News, which should be accessible to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. You can also find audio recordings of the radio stations and the jamming.

Part One: Seoul’s North Korean jamming: AM and shortwave.

Part Two: Seoul’s North Korean jamming: catching FM stations.

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Kim Jong Il’s death – monitoring North Korean TV and radio

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The news of Kim Jong Il’s death has all eyes focused on the Asian nation. Unlike many other countries, there’s only a handful of official news outlets and getting direct access can be difficult.

North Korean TV (KCTV) can be watched live through the Thaicom 5 satellite throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa and some parts of Europe but you’ll need a satellite dish at least 3 meters across. If you have such a dish point it at:

Thaicom 5 (78.5 degrees East); Transponder 7G C-band; 3,696MHz, DVB-S signal, symbol rate 3367

North Korean radio (KCBS) is easier to catch. In neighboring countries it can be heard on a normal mediumwave (AM) radio but usually not until nighttime when long-distance reception improves. Try 720, 819, 873, 882, 999 and 1080kHz. It can be difficult to catch in South Korea due to jamming.

There are also several shortwave frequencies: 2850 has good coverage of South Korea all day and neighboring countries at night. Other strong frequencies to try are 6100, 9665 and 11,680kHz. Some of these can be heard worldwide at certain times of day.

Listeners in neighboring countries can also try Pyongyang Broadcasting Station (PBS), a Korean-language network aimed overseas. It broadcasts at various times of day on 621, 684, 657 and 801kHz mediumwave (AM) and 6250 and 6400kHz shortwave. PBS puts in a strong signal to Japan in the evening on 657 and 2850.

International broadcasts in multiple languages can also be heard on Voice of Korea. The full English language schedule is on this page.

Both KCBS and Voice of Korea are also carried as radio stations alongside KCTV on Thaicom 5.

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High-quality recordings of DPRK radio

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Mark Fahey in Australia wrote to let me know about a project he’s working on that involves the capture of hours of North Korean radio via satellite. The broadcasts of the Korean Central Broadcasting Station domestic service via Thaicom are much higher quality than anything that’s generally available online, including my recordings from shortwave. Here’s what he says:

I am currently capturing hundreds of hours of TV & radio programming from North Korea as part of an academic project I am involved in. Yesterday I spent time digitally capturing the central domestic radio service as broadcast on 819kHz in Pyongyang. I thought some of your contacts and readers may be interested in some studio quality files of the DPRK’s domestic radio. The audio is exactly the same quality as what leaves the studio – complete with the music featuring some analog tape wow and flutter.

I have posted two files on my website. One is 1hr 15min long (suitable to burning on a CD) and the other is a mega 9hr 30min. Both were captured yesterday, December 5th 2010.

The 1:15 hr file starts @ 7:57 AM and features the news and then the musical breakfast program.

The 9:30 hr file starts @ 6:55 AM and runs all the way thru to 4:25 PM.

The files can be download the files here….

http://www.satdirectory.com/audio.html

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Korean Central Broadcasting Station

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The Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) (Korean: 조선중앙방송, Chinese: 朝鲜中央放送, Japanese: 朝鮮中央放送) is the main domestic radio network in the DPRK. It sits under the Central Broadcasting Committee of the DPRK (called the Radio and Television Committee of the DPRK until 2009).

KCBS broadcasts from 5am to 3am local time via a network of mediumwave and shortwave transmitters that cover the nation. The powerful transmissions can easily be heard in neighboring countries, including South Korea where some of its frequencies are jammed.

It is also relayed at certain times via the Voice of Korea, the DPRK’s international shortwave service.

A central program is broadcast from Pyongyang on most transmitters through the entire broadcast day, but some are reported to carry regional programming between 2pm and 3pm.

All programming is in Korean and includes music, talk and news. Main news bulletins are broadcast at 6am, 7am, 10am, midday, 3pm, 5pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10pm.

Mediumwave Transmitters

The main mediumwave transmitters are:

  • 702kHz, Chongjin (50kW)
  • 720kHz, Wiwon (500kW)
  • 765kHz, Hyesan (50kW)
  • 810kHz, Kaesong (50kW)
  • 819kHz, Pyongyang (500kW)
  • 873kHz, Sinuiji (250kW)
  • 882kHz, Wonsan (250kW)
  • 927kHz, Hwangju (50kW)
  • 999kHz, Hamhung (250kW)
  • 1080kHz, Haeju (1500kW)
  • 1368kHz, Pyongyang (2kW)

The powerful Haeju transmitter puts out a signal that easily reaches into South Korea, China and Japan during the nighttime. The South Korean government jams most of the North Korean mediumwave programming, but the jamming signal is weaker than that coming from North Korea so doesn’t affect listening outside of South Korea.

If you’re in the region, the 500kW (kilowatt) and 250kW transmitters are also worth listening out for during the nighttime. They stronger channels can be heard on most mediumwave radios and car radios.

Shortwave Transmitters

The KCBS shortwave frequencies are:

  • 2350kHz, Sariwon
  • 2850kHz, Pyongyang
  • 3220kHz, Hamhung
  • 3350kHz, Pyongsong
  • 3920kHz, Hyesan
  • 3960kHz, Kanggye
  • 3970kHz, Wonsan
  • 3980kHz, Chongjin
  • 6100kHz, Kanggye (250kW)
  • 9665kHz, Pyongyang
  • 11680kHz, Kanggye

Frequencies in italics have not been monitored or reported recently and may be off the air.

The shortwave channels don’t appear to be jammed by South Korea and the 2850kHz signal from Pyongyang can be received in Seoul quite clearly all day. The power of the various transmitters varies so some are easy to hear while others present more of a challenge. In Tokyo, the 2850kHz and 6100kHz are easy to hear in the evening. The 6100kHz channel carries Voice of Korea overseas programming between 3:30pm and 10:30pm.

FM Transmitters

KCBS is also reported to broadcast on 93.8 FM in Pyongyang and 102.3 FM in Kaesong.

Satellite Relay

KCBS is reported to be carried alongside Korean Central Television on the Thaicom-5 satellite.

Voice of Korea relay transmissions

The station is relayed via Voice of Korea at the following times and on the following frequencies:

  • 2am to 2:50am (1700 to 1750 GMT) to East Asia on 3560kHz; to Europe on 7570kHz and 12015kHz; to North America on 11710kHz
  • 5am to 5:50am (2000 to 2050 GMT) to East Asia on 4405kHz; to 7210kHz, 9325kHz, 9975kHz, 11535kHz and 11910kHz
  • 8am to 8:50am (2300 to 2350 GMT) to East Aisa on 3560kHz, 7235kHz, 7570kHz, 9345kHz, 9975kHz, 11535kHz and 12015kHz
  • 6pm to 6:50pm (0900 to 0950 GMT) to East Asia on 3560kHz, 7220kHz and 9345kHz
  • 9pm to 9:50pm (1200 to 1250 GMT) to Latin America on 6285kHz and 9335kHz; to Southeast Asia on 6185kHz and 9850kHz
  • 11pm to 11:50pm (1400 to 1450 GMT) to Southeast Asia on 6185kHz and 9850kHz

On-Air

Here’s a clip of the sign-on at 5am each morning. The tuning signal plays twice then a male voice announces the name of the station, “Chosŏn Chungang Pangsong imnida,” then two more rounds of the interval signal and the station name from a female voice.

Then follows the time signal and the national anthem.

The Voice of Korea external service uses the same format, albeit with announcements in different languages.

History

The station officially inaugurated programming on October 14, 1945, with a live broadcast of the victory speech of Kim Il Sung when he returned to Pyongyang at the end of World War II, according to a KCNA report from 2005. The same reported noted the station’s duty is to broadcast “the voices of the Workers’ Party of Korea at home and abroad.”

It’s origins can be traced back to 1936 and radio station JBBK. Operated by the occupying Japanese forces, JBBK broadcast a first and second program as part of Japan’s radio network that covered the Korean peninsula from Seoul. Program one broadcast on 820kHz and program two on 1090kHz. The start dates are given as either April 10/11th or November 15th depending on the source.

The 820kHz channel is still in use in Pyongyang today, albeit on 819kHz. The frequency was slightly shifted when Asia mediumwave broadcasting moved from 10kHz to 9kHz spacing between channels.

Sources: Author’s monitoring, World Radio TV Handbook, Asia Broadcasting Institute, Lyngsat and Oka Lab.

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