Radio wars between North and South Korea

Uploaded by networkworld on 10.06.2010

North Korea, one of the most tightly-controlled countries in the world. Looking across the
border from South Korea, it fs difficult to imagine living in a place where all the news
comes from a single source, where there is no Internet, and where listening to an alternative
point of view can lead to death sentence.
Officially still at war, barbed wire has divided these two countries for 60 years, but there
fs one thing that travels unrestricted over the border: radio.
Radio clip: Marching song
The airwaves above the 38th parallel are abuzz with activity. From the totalitarian north
come propaganda-heavy state broadcasts, while more than 10 stations in the south target
North Korea with independent news, religion and propaganda of their own.
Propaganda radio isn ft new. Its roots go back to World War II and stations like Radio
gHello you fighting orphans of the Pacific. How's tricks? This is after her weekend off,
Annie is back on the air c h
Radio Tokyo hoped to influence American troops in the Pacific, and while its success was
limited it and stations like it sparked the use of radio as a way to reach across borders.
Such broadcasts reached a peak during the cold war.
gThis is Radio Station Peace and Progress, the voice of Soviet public opinion. h
Satellite TV and the Internet are gradually putting an end to these programs in most of
the world, but they fre not available to citizens in North Korea so radio remains an important
Voice of liberty and hope. This is Open Radio for North Korea.
Open Radio for North Korea puts out 2 hours of news and information programming each day
from a studio in downtown Seoul.
[Ha Tae-Keung, President, Open Radio for North Korea]
North Korea is the most isolated place in the world. People don't know what's happening
outside of North Korea. They are just brainwashed by what the regime wants them to believe.
Ha used to help North Korean refugees along the Chinese border but turned to radio after
realizing people in the north were just as much starved of information as they were food.
North Korea, as you may know, there is no Internet. People can't use. I found that radio
is the most effective tool for North Korean people to get the information from outside.
But listening to the broadcasts isn ft as easy as turning the dial. Radios in North
Korea come fixed to state broadcasts and must be registered with the local police.
This woman is a defector. She didn ft want to be identified because of the possible repercussions
it could have on friends and family still in North Korea. A former doctor in the country,
she fled the country two years ago.
A radio c we also had a radio in our house, but frequency of radios is fixed, so c I mean
if you try to listen to a different one, you can, but since (I) fall into an intellectual
category, I was being careful and was trying not to listen to (a different one).
She was careful because of the potential punishment. While some can get out of trouble with bribes,
the potential penalty she could have faced as a doctor is more severe.
You are purged as a political offender, arrested and then if you are put in a political prisoners
f camp, it means your future will end.
But increasingly people are risking imprisonment and tuning into foreign broadcasts, according
to the stations.
Radios with unrestricted tuning are making their way in to the country across North Korea
fs border with China. Potential penalties for having such a radio remain severe but
as North Korea fs economy has weakened it fs become easier to bribe officials.
Today, it fs estimated that around 5 percent of the population listen to foreign broadcasts.
Seoul, the capital of South Korea, and home to more than 10 million people. This busy,
bustling metropolis lies 50 kilometers from the border and is within easy range of North
Korea fs powerful mediumwave radio transmitters.
But tune along the AM-band and there fs not a North Korean voice to be heard. Where there
should be North Korean radio, there fs this.
Sound clip
It fs radio jamming. South Korea transmits this noise 24 hours a day on top of North
Korean broadcasts to prevent them from being heard in Seoul.
The jamming has been going on for decades on both sides of the border and is another
aspect of this battle of the airwaves across the 38th parallel.
The South fs jamming is largely restricted to easy-to-receive AM broadcasts from the
North, but in North Korea the situation is different. The regime fs total control on
domestic media makes foreign voices a potentially destabilizing force so the jamming operation
is much larger in scale.
Barely visible in this picture taken a few meters from the border at Panmunjeon is a
transmitter mast in North Korea. It fs one of several used to jam stations, an operation
that fs been getting bigger.
[Park Seongmun, Vice Director, Northeast Asian Broadcasting Institute]
gIt is safe to say jamming from North Korea has intensified recently, especially after
2005 when private broadcasts appeared. h
Jamming is a power-intensive business. A strong signal is needed to effectively block a broadcast
and electricity shortages are a major problem in the north.
Also, since there are too many South Korean broadcasts against North Korea today, North
Korea faces increasing demand of signals to jam now.
The supply shortages and increase in stations has necessitated North Korea to get more selective
in its jamming and allow some information through.
It fs early May and this is Imjingak, about 4 kilometers to the North Korean border.
Human rights activists and defectors are here to send bags full of leaflets, DVDs, money
and radios to North Korea.
Helium-filled balloons will carry them across the border and timers will release their propaganda
[Suzanne Scholte, Chairman, North Korea Freedom Coalition]
We've been sending in balloons with radios and money to pump-up the private markets that
have developed in North Korea, and messages from the North Korean defectors and the American
people of true history and information about the outside world.
There are several such launches a year and activists are sure they are working.
I think the most effective indicator that this is powerful is that the regime has protested
vehemently against these launches. So that tells us the information is getting to the
people because they are so vehemently against it.
Just how upset do they get?
In late May South Korea fs government restarted propaganda broadcasts along the border, targeting
North Korean soldiers and immediately drew the ire of the north.
If the south side continues to scatter leaflets and resumes even broadcasting for psychological
warfare, it will be followed immediately by tough countermeasures of our army including
physical actions.
The effectiveness of the radio broadcasts on the public is difficult to gauge, especially
in North Korea. No one knows how many people illicitly listen late at night through the
static and the jamming to get a wider view of the world ? something we all take for granted.
Reporting from the 38th parallel, Martyn Williams, IDG News Service.