Pyongyang is not happy about foreign radio broadcasts

North Korea’s state-run news agency has hit out against propaganda radio broadcasts targeted at the country.

(This post has been updated. See below)

In a commentary published on Wednesday, the Korean Central News Agency criticized the broadcasts for using “the same frequency band as used by the TV broadcasting in the DPRK and conducting its anti-DPRK radio propaganda with the same radio frequency band as used in the DPRK.”

North Korea is targeted by a handful of overseas radio stations that largely transmit on shortwave frequencies to reach listeners in the country. Some of the stations, including South Korea’s KBS and Seoul-based Open Radio for North Korea, use mediumwave (AM) and FM frequencies.

The KCNA article didn’t name any specific broadcaster and there doesn’t appear to have been any recent change in targeted broadcasts so it’s unclear if this is in reaction to something new or a random rant about the radio stations.

If nothing has changed, the publication of the commentary might be an indication of growing influence of the overseas broadcasts. The stations claim a growing audience but that’s impossible to verify.

KCNA said the foreign broadcasts were an “outright violation of international convention and order and a treacherous act of leading the inter-Korean relations to the worst phase.”

The International Treaty of Telecommunication clearly stipulates that application for the use of frequency should precede and the use of a certain frequency is possible only with the user’s approval. It is an illegal act in wanton contravention of international law and order to infringe upon the frequency already in official use by other country and region. — KCNA, October 5, 2011.

Ironically, Pyongyang has a large jamming operation that exists to purposefully broadcast noise on the same frequencies as foreign stations so they cannot be heard in North Korea. South Korea also jams broadcasts from the north so they can’t be heard on household and car radios.

Its anti-DPRK broadcasting propaganda is a treacherous and anti-reunification action to incite the confrontation with compatriots in ideology and system.
The group is working hard to create grievances among people in the DPRK through despicable psychological warfare and bring down socialism.
No one can destroy the politically stable and solid Korean-style socialist system.  — KCNA, October 5, 2011.

Update: A colleague tells me the story might be referring to a new TV station that is broadcasting from South Korea towards North Korea. The station apparently uses the PAL color standard, which makes it compatible with televisions in the north. The south uses the American NTSC system (or increasingly digital broadcasting these days). If anyone has any information on this TV operation please let me know.

An affiliate of 38 North