Posts tagged Pyongyang FM Broadcasting

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.

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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