TV & Radio in North Korea

Country profile: TV & Radio in North Korea
Terrestrial Standard: PAL (576i 4:3)
Radio: Analogue: MW, SW & FM

KCTV (Korean Central Television) broadcasts 7 to 8 hours each day from 14:30 until between 22:00 and 23:30 KST daily (07.30 – 15.30 CET), and 15 hours from 08:30 to between 22:00 and 23:30 KST on weekends and key national holidays. There is another exception, for the emergency events in DPRK at night or daytime, it starts up without any announcers or the Voice of Korea interval signal. The station is still open until that event becomes normal.

KCTV Test Card

Testcards used are EBU Colour Bars and modified Philips PM5544 testcard with digital clock. Towards the top of the testcard Hangul characters for “Pyongyang” are written on either sides of a chollima emblazoned on a blue background.
The station’s output is dominated by propaganda programming focusing on the history and achievements of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party, the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and Kim Jong-il. Topics covered range from new construction projects to history lessons about the accomplishments and past of Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung and the Juche idea.

Other programs on topics such as health and education are also aired. Movies, children’s programmes, and patriotic musical shows and theatre are also shown on the networks. On national holidays, military parades, musical performances and movies, plus more special programs are shown on all three networks.

The station began its first colour broadcasts on 1 July 1974 and uses the PAL system with 576i scanning lines.
In 1980, North Korea started relay reception by a communication satellite.

In March 2012 the news readers began presenting news items in front of a computer-generated background. A graphic to accompany the story appears above the right or left shoulder — a style almost universally used in other countries by that time. When the report begins the graphic moves forward to fill the screen.

KCTV News

In September 2012, China Central Television of PRC, pledged about US$800,000 of equipment to help improve its news broadcast. Since then news were shown with a screen panel that shows images and videos in movement.
No information is available on Korean Central Television’s transmission sites.

Official, government-sanctioned and -operated television stations are the only ones that citizens are allowed to watch. Any television sets acquired by citizens are altered by the government beforehand, to receive only the official channels. This includes a tamper-evident seal which will show if the television’s owner has attempted to tamper with components of the television.
This is seen as evidence of that person attempting to receive foreign television from China, South Korea or Japan, and if discovered, the owner is subject for harsh penalties including imprisonment in one of North Korea’s many forced-labour concentration camps.


 

Terrestrial Broadcasting

North Korea Military Parade 2017

The location of TV transmitters in North Korea, is a state secret, so it is not possible to list any, though Pyongyang certainly has a main TV transmitter site.
The satellite transmissions from Thaicom 5, are used to transmit KCTV to the various transmitters throughout the country.

When North Korea launched a modernization of its broadcasting network in 2011, the Chinese company chosen to supply new TV and radio transmitters to the country faced a problem.
The location of broadcast towers in North Korea is so much of a state secret that engineers from the company were not permitted to travel to the DPRK to help install the transmitters.

Instead, eight North Korean engineers spent a month in China being trained on how to install and operate the devices, which included a medium-power TV transmitter, several shortwave radio transmitters and a powerful mediumwave (AM) radio transmitter.

It is not known if North Korea has any plans to change from PAL (576i 4:3), to a digital terrestrial service in the future, or if the country is currently testing any digital TV systems.
If and when it does, it is almost certain to adopt the Chinese DTMB system.

Pyongyang TV Tower

Pyongyang TV Tower

Pyongyang TV Tower is a free-standing concrete TV tower with an observation deck and a panorama restaurant at a height of 150 metres in Pyongyang. The tower stands in Kaeson Park in Moranbong-guyok, north of Kim Il-sung Stadium.

Currently, the tower broadcasts signals for Korean Central Television. It was built in April 1967 to enhance the broadcasting area, which was very poor at the time, and to start colour TV broadcasts.
The Pyongyang TV Tower is mainly based on the design of the Ostankino Tower in Moscow, which was built at the same time.
There are broadcast antennas and technical equipment at the height of 34.5 m, 65 m, 67.5 m and 85 m, located at circular platforms.
An observation deck is located at 94 metres high. The tower is topped by a 50-metre tall antenna.

The Pyongyang TV Tower is apparently in a poor state of repair, access is restricted when KCTV is on air both for security issues and health issues, due to transmitter radiation.
Access is also restricted during windy weather conditions due to the tower swaying.


 

Satellite Transmissions

Thaicom 5 at 78.5°E

KCTV is broadcast free-to-air on Thaicom 5, with the appropriate equipment the station can be picked up in Southeast Asia, Australasia, Middle East, Africa and Europe.
The daily KCTV news bulletin is also distributed online with Japanese subtitle through a Chongryon-supported website.
There are two versions of Korean Central Television available, one in SD and one in HD.
Also available on the transponder is the North Korean radio station Voice of Korea

Thaicom 5 at 78.5°E
Frequency: 3696 Horizontal
SR: 4167
FEC: 3/5
DVB-S2 8PSK

See: Korean Central Broadcasting Committee (KCBC)
KCTV Live stream: mms://121.167.43.161/chosun


 

Voice of Korea

VOK Radio

Voice of Korea (조선의 소리) is the international broadcasting service of North Korea. It broadcasts primarily information in Chinese, Spanish, German, English, French, Russian, Japanese, and Arabic. Until 2002 it was known as Radio Pyongyang. The interval signal is identical to the one of Korean Central Television.

Voice of Korea broadcasts on shortwave radio frequencies, as well as on medium wave for broadcasts aimed at neighbouring countries. Some frequencies broadcast are well out of the ITU allocated shortwave broadcast bands, making them less susceptible to interference though less likely to be listenable on older receivers.

Most of the broadcasts are transmitted from the Kujang shortwave transmitter site, located approximately 25 km from the city of Kujang.

In 2006 VOK started broadcasting on the same frequency as the Lincolnshire Poacher numbers station. It is unknown whether this was an intentional effort to frustrate the Poacher’s operators or an accident, as it is not unknown for Voice of Korea to unintentionally jam its own signal by transmitting programmes in different languages simultaneously on the same frequency.

On occasion, VOK has missed its regular service. The interruptions have not been explained by VOK, but they are thought to be due to engineering works at the transmitter sites, faulty equipment or because of power outages. In 2012 they occurred when the country was facing one of its worst electricity shortages in years.
The off-air periods also affect North Korea’s own jamming signals designed to prevent reception of South Korean stations such as Echo of Hope, Voice of the People, and KBS Hanminjok Bangsong.
Voice of Korea also broadcasts on the Thaicom 5 satellite along with Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) and Korean Central Television.

Programming

Voice of Korea does not broadcast an interval signal in the minutes leading up to the start of the transmission. It instead starts broadcasting the interval signal (the first few notes of the “Song of General Kim Il-sung”) on the hour.

A typical program line-up begins with the interval signal, followed by the station announcement “This is Voice of Korea”. After the announcement, the national anthem, “Song of General Kim Il-sung” and “Song of General Kim Jong-il” are played.
The songs are followed by a news broadcast consisting of Korean Central News Agency items with small adjustments for the radio. If there are any items about Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il or Kim Jong-un, these top the bulletin. The news items are typically one day behind the news of the domestic service Korea Central Broadcasting Station.
The news is followed by music and an excerpt from Kim Il-sung’s memoirs With the Century.
After the memoirs, there is more music and feature stories, sometimes followed by an editorial.
The fifty-seven-minute broadcast is concluded with frequency information and a sign-off message.

Live Voice of Korea stream at: www.ustream.tv/channel/north-korea-the-voice-of-korea-live

Website: www.vok.rep.kp


 

Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS)

The Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) (조선중앙방송) is the main domestic radio network in the DPRK. It sits under the Central Broadcasting Committee of the DPRK.
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 neighbouring 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 programme is broadcast from Pyongyang on most transmitters through the entire broadcast day, though 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.

KCBS Medium Wave Transmitters
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 transmitters signal,  easily reaches into South Korea, China and Japan during the nighttime. The South Korean government jams most of the North Korean medium wave programming, though the jamming signal is weaker than that coming from North Korea so this does not affect listening outside of South Korea.

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

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


Recordings of KCTV

Share