Posts tagged Pyongyang 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.

Great National Unity website launches

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0131-gnuNorth Korea’s newest website, Great National Unity, launched Thursday.

The site is supposedly run by Pyongyang Broadcasting Station, the country’s radio station that targets Korean-language speakers in South Korea, Japan and China, and its imminent launch was announced by state radio earlier this week.

At first glance, the site appears largely consistent with web design on other North Korean websites. There are North Korean scenes, flowers, a map of the unified country and news stories about inter-Korean politics.

Perhaps one of the most interesting areas is a grid of views on the lower right hand side of the screen from Korea Central Television. Unfortunately, the nightly news isn’t featured among them.

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They play in a Flash video player — not a proprietary format like the Voice of Korea streaming audio — and the quality isn’t bad, although it isn’t great either.

Visitors will also find some audio clips and photos.

But, at least on first glance, there isn’t much on this site that can’t already be found on North Korea’s other websites.

In terms of technology, the site appears to be running on the same webserver that hosts several other Noth Korean sites, including Voice of Korea and the Naenara portal.

The server is running on CentOS, a free Linux-based operating system based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

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Pyongyang Broadcasting Station to launch website

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Pyongyang Broadcasting Station (평양방송), North Korea’s Korean-language radio station aimed at nearby countries, is launching a website this week, according to announcements made Tuesday on domestic and international broadcasts.

The new website will be called “Grand National Unity” and will be available at www.gnu.rep.kp from February 1st, according to the announcements. That site currently holds a test page for the Apache web server.

The site is the latest from the country carrying national news and propaganda to international audiences. While its adoption of the Internet for propagation of information has been slow, it has been steady and new sites have slowly been appearing. Other prominent sites include the Rodong Sinmun, the  country’s main daily newspaper, and the official Korea Central News Agency.

The radio station is one of four run by North Korea:

  • Korea Central Broadcasting Station, the main domestic radio network
  • Pyongyang FM Broadcasting Station, a second, FM-only, domestic network
  • Pyongyang Broadcasting Station, aimed at Korean speakers in South Korea, Japan and China
  • Voice of Korea, a multi-lingual shortwave broadcaster aimed at audiences worldwide

Of the four, only Voice of Korea currently has a web site. Pyongyang Broadcasting Station, with its overseas audience, is a natural second candidate for a home page.

The launching of the site isn’t perhaps as much of a surprise as the announcement that it’s coming.

News was first broken on Tuesday morning on Korea Central Broadcasting Station, the country’s main internal radio network. According to BBC Monitoring, which spends much more time listening to North Korean radio that I do, the 9am hour doesn’t usually carry news and is almost exclusively reserved for rebroadcasts of special announcements or a review of major stories from the day’s newspaper.

So the timing it interesting as it its target: KCBS’ domestic audience doesn’t have access to the Internet.

An almost identical announcement was carried later in the day during the Voice of Korea programming. Here’s the English announcement:

I’ve transcribed it. See if you can figure out the word that I cannot make out:

(Male announcer) Dear Listeners

(Female announcer) Dear Listeners

(Male announcer) From February 1st, Juche 102 or 2013, Radio Pyongyang opened its Korean-language website, Great National Unity. The address is www.gnu.rep.kp.

(Male announcer) You’re welcome.

(Female announcer) From February 1st, Juche 102 or 2013, Radio Pyongyang opened its Korean-language website, Great National Unity. The address is www.gnu.rep.kp.

(Female announcer) You’re welcome.

(Male announcer) The new website, Great National Unity, will make an active contribution to (*ing) the 70 million Koreans to turn out in the building of a unified country under the idea of by-our-nation itself.

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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.

radio waves

Tuning the FM dial in Pyongyang

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Switch on an FM radio in Pyongyang and there isn’t much to listen to, according to a scan of the FM band by a recent visitor to the country.

Mark Fahey found just two radio stations available, although one was repeated on multiple frequencies.

Pyongyang FM Broadcasting (Pyongyang FM Pangsong) was broadcasting on 105.2 MHz. Mark said the station, “opened each morning with a few minutes of test tone, an interval signal and that the 6AM time signal.”

Here’s a recording Mark provided of the start of broadcasts on August 16. You can hear the station ID as “Pyongyang FM Pangsong imnida” (This is Pyongyang FM Broadcasting.)

The second station, Pyongyang Broadcasting Station (Pyongyang Pangsong) was broadcasting on 89.2, 91.2, 92.9, 93.3, 93.9, 94.5, 96.7, 97.3, 97.7, 98.1, 99.6, 101.8 and 106.5 MHz. All frequencies were carrying the same program.

Here’s a recording of the opening of Pyongyang Broadcasting Station from August 11. The station ID is “Pyongyang Pangsong imnida” (This is Pyongyang Broadcasting Station.)

Pyongyang Broadcasting Station is the same program heard on several mediumwave and shortwave channels in East Asia.

It’s one of the strongest foreign stations on the mediumwave dial in Japan during the nighttime.

I caught the station on FM in Tokyo in August this year during a period of ionospheric disruption that allows FM signals to travel great distances.

Fahey scanned the FM band from the 32nd floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel, so some of the channels could have been relays in nearby towns and cities. He also uploaded several hundred photos from his trip, which can be seen on Flickr.

The scan provides a rare glimpse at FM broadcasting in North Korea. Mediumwave and shortwave broadcasts can be easily monitored from outside of the country, but as FM broadcasting covers shorter distances it requires someone inside the country.

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