September 29, 2008

Korea, North: Officials Reportedly Listen to Foreign Radios

Text of report in English by Jung Kwon Ho: "North Korean officials listen to foreign radio", published by South Korean newspaper The Daily NK website on 25 August

Shenyang, China - Among cadres in North Korea, listening to foreign radio is on the increase.

Several sources from North Korea report that "Irrespective of rank, the trend of listening to foreign radio broadcasts is expanding among officials of the Party, the administration or the National Security Agency, even the rank-and-file servants."

A source from South Pyungan said that "Everybody knows that those who listen to foreign radio broadcasts the most are the cadres. They have been listening to foreign radio because they were wondering in which situation Chosun (North Korea) is placed in international society."

"Although the cadres can purchase radios easily, because there are many confiscated radios from the residents in the National Security Agency and the People's Safety Agency, many high officials are increasingly asking workers involved in foreign currency earning enterprises to get better radios."

In the past, only high officials in charge of the intelligence field, earning foreign currency and international affairs listened to foreign broadcasts, but lately administrative officials and officials in mid or lower levels listen to them as well .

The foreign radio broadcasts that North Koreans can access are "Voice of Korea," from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Voice of America (VOA), Korean language broadcasting from the Yanbian region of China and other broadcasts from South Korean religious organizations and NGOs.

The North Korean authorities have been jamming radio signals so as to avoid citizens being able to listen to foreign broadcasts, and confiscating radios from them.

The source said that "The cadres do not say directly that they get some international news from radio but there are many cases where they talk about international news and affairs. People say if someone does not know about South Korean or international trends; it is hard to be approved of by officials."

Officials pay more attention to foreign broadcasts than ordinary people because their education level is high and they are familiar with foreign news.

The next levels of people who listen to foreign broadcasts are the intellectuals and college students. South Korean dramas and movies which have been entering North Korea through China since the late 1990s gave them an interest in outside information, according to the sources.

However, there are also newspapers containing foreign issues and selected international news from foreign media; Chamgo Shinmun (Reference newspaper) and the Chamgo Jaryo (Reference materials), which are regularly distributed only to high officials.

Members of the Central Committee of the Party, Chief Secretaries and the Organizing Secretaries of the provincial committee of the Party can read them on a limited basis.

Originally published by The Daily NK website, Seoul, in English 25 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Media. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.