Voice of Korea

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This article is about the North Korean broadcasting service. For the Montreal local radio program, see CKUT-FM#Voice of Korea. For the South Korean reality show, see The Voice of Korea.
Voice of Korea
Type Radio network
Country North Korea
Availability International
Owner Government of North Korea
Launch date
October 14, 1945
Former names
Radio Pyongyang
Official website
Voice of Korea
Chosŏn'gŭl 조선의 소리
Hancha 朝鮮의 소리
Revised Romanization Joseon-ui Sori
McCune–Reischauer Chosŏn-ŭi Sori
Voice of Korea interval signal and national anthem received in the UK in May 2013.
The last minute of a Voice of Korea English broadcast received in the UK in May 2013.
An old Radio Pyongyang pennant.

Voice of Korea (Korean: 조선 소리) is the international broadcasting service of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It broadcasts primarily information in Chinese, Spanish, German, English, French, Russian, Japanese, and Arabic.[1] Until 2002 it was known as Radio Pyongyang. The Interval Signal is identical to the one of Korean Central Television.


Its origins can be traced back to 1936 and radio station JBBK. Operated by the occupying Japanese forces, JBBK broadcast a first and second program as part of Japan’s radio network that covered the Korean peninsula from Seoul.

The station officially inaugurated programming on October 14, 1945, with a live broadcast of the victory speech of Kim Il Sung when he returned to Pyongyang at the end of World War II.


Voice of Korea broadcasts on HF or shortwave radio frequencies, as well as on medium wave for broadcasts aimed at neighboring countries. Some frequencies broadcast are well out of the ITU allocated shortwave broadcast bands, making them less susceptible to interference but 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.[2]

In 2006 VOK started broadcasting on the same frequency as the Lincolnshire Poacher numbers station[3][self-published source] 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.[4] 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.[5][6]

Voice of Korea also broadcasts on the Thaicom 5 satellite along with Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) and Korean Central Television.[citation needed]


Unlike most international broadcasters, "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.[citation needed]

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.[1] If there are any items about Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il or Kim Jong-un, these top the bulletin.[citation needed] 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.[1]


Estimated total direct programme hours per week of some external radio broadcasters for 1996
Broadcaster 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996[2]
United States VOA, RFE/RL & Radio Martí 497 1,495 1,907 1,901 2,611 1,821
China China Radio International 66 687 1,267 1,350 1,515 1,620
United Kingdom BBC World Service 643 589 723 719 796 1,036
Russia Radio Moscow / Voice of Russia[1][3] 533 1,015 1,908 2,094 1,876 726
Germany Deutsche Welle 0 315 779 804 848 655
Egypt Radio Cairo (ERTU) 0 301 540 546 605 604
Iran IRIB World Service / Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran 12 24 155 175 400 575
India All India Radio 116 157 271 389 456 500
Japan NHK World Radio Japan 0 203 259 259 343 468
France Radio France Internationale 198 326 200 125 379 459
Netherlands Radio Netherlands Worldwide[1] 127 178 335 289 323 392
Israel Israel Radio International[1] 0 91 158 210 253 365
Turkey Voice of Turkey 40 77 88 199 322 364
North Korea Radio Pyongyang / Voice of Korea 0 159 330 597 534 364
Bulgaria Radio Bulgaria[1] 30 117 164 236 320 338
Australia Radio Australia 181 257 350 333 330 307
Albania Radio Tirana (RTSH) 26 63 487 560 451 303
Romania Radio Romania International 30 159 185 198 199 298
Spain Radio Exterior de España[5] 68 202 251 239 403 270
Portugal RDP Internacional[1] 46 133 295 214 203 226
Cuba Radio Havana Cuba 0 0 320 424 352 203
Italy Rai Italia Radio[1] 170 205 165 169 181 203
Canada Radio Canada International[1] 85 80 98 134 195 175
Poland Radio Polonia[1] 131 232 334 337 292 171
South Africa Radio RSA / Channel Africa 0 63 150 183 156 159
Sweden Sveriges Radio International[1] 28 114 140 155 167 149
Hungary Magyar Rádió[1] 76 120 105 127 102 144
Czech Republic Radio Prague[4] 119 196 202 255 131 131
Nigeria Voice of Nigeria 0 0 62 170 120 127
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Radio Belgrade / International Radio of Serbia 80 70 76 72 96 68

Source: International Broadcast Audience Research, June 1996

The list includes about a quarter of the world's external broadcasters whose output is both publicly funded and worldwide. Among those excluded are Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and various international commercial and religious stations.


  1. Does not broadcast on shortwave as of 2014.
  2. 1996 figures as at June; all other years as at December.
  3. Before 1991, broadcasting for the former USSR.
  4. Before 1996, broadcasting for the former Czechoslovakia.
  5. REE ceased all shortwave broadcasts in October 2014 but announced in December that it would resume shortwave transmission in Spanish only for four hours a day in order to accommodate Spanish fishing trawlers who were otherwise unable to receive REE at sea.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Voice of Korea mid-2014 schedule". North Korea Tech. 27 March 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ Martyn Williams (April 29, 2011). "Kujang shortwave transmitter site". North Korea Tech. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  3. ^ Info about the clash. October 3, 2010.
  4. ^ Martyn Williams (February 24, 2012). "DPRK radio disappears". North Korea Tech. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ Martyn Williams (July 22, 2013). "Some North Korean external radio, jamming reportedly off air". North Korea Tech. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  6. ^ Martyn Williams (March 28, 2012). "Voice of Korea still having problems staying on-air". North Korea Tech. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 

External links[edit]