Is North Korea Jamming Radio Signals?

Is North Korea Jamming Radio Signals?

Daily NK reported Thursday that “there have been signs that North Korean authorities have been jamming radio broadcast frequencies used by UMG since mid-December.”

According to a new report, radio broadcasts from a South Korean nonprofit human rights organization appear to have been jammed by authorities in the North Korean regime. 

Daily NK reported Thursday that “there have been signs that North Korean authorities have been jamming radio broadcast frequencies used by UMG since mid-December.” UMG is Unification Media Group, the consortium that owns Daily NK.

This was backed up by the director of the Northeast Asian Broadcasting Institute, who told Daily NK that there are “clear signs” of such interference. He even provided a video file showing extra noise which he believes came from the jamming attempts North Korean authorities.

The report speculated that the jamming may have been connected to the passage of an “anti-revolutionary thought” law in early December, as part of the Supreme People’s Assembly. 

Unification Media Group describes itself as “a news and entertainment production organization focused on North Korea,” which “brings the latest developments from North Korea to South Korean and international audiences in addition to North Koreans themselves.” 

“Members of South Korean civil society, including those operating radio stations transmitting into North Korea, are demanding that the South Korean government allow them to use South Korean AM frequencies,” Daily NK story said. “They argue that the use of these local frequencies will strengthen the radio signals and prevent the radio programs from being so easily jammed.”

Jamming Watch reported back in 2008 that “since it is illegal for North Koreans to listen to anything other than state-run radio, all legal radio receivers are sold fixed so they can play only channels approved by the government. The report also said that due to electricity shortages “radio jamming activities are not always consistent and are sometimes interrupted by power failures.” 

The news comes as North Korea is holding one of its rare party Congresses. And according to a report by the Yonhap News Agency,  North Korea’s state broadcaster, Korean Central Television (KCTV), aired a special program this week on the Congress. 

The program, per the report, was hosted by the well-known Korean news anchor  Ri Chun-hee, and amid concern that coronavirus is spreading in North Korea, the broadcast featured “video footage showing thousands of participants sitting in close proximity at the April 25 Cultural Hall in Pyongyang without face masks.” 

And on the show, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was “seen wearing a badge showing the portraits of his late grandfather Kim Il-sung and late father Kim Jong-il.” And the Rodong Sinmun reported that the Kim regime received congratulations from “the communist parties of Vietnam and Laos,” and also a note from Korean residents in Japan.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters