Korean Central News Agency
|Founded||5 December 1946|
|Headquarters||Pyongyang, North Korea|
Number of locations
|Correspondents and bureaus in six countries|
Number of employees
|Korean Central News Agency|
|Revised Romanization||Joseon Jungangtongsin
or Joseon Tongsinsa
or Chosŏn T'ongsinsa
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) is the state news agency of North Korea that was established on December 5, 1946. The agency portrays the views of the North Korean government for foreign consumption.
As one of several news agencies operating in the DPRK, KCNA daily reports news for all the North Korean news organizations including newspapers, radio and television broadcasts via Korean Central Television and the Korean Central Broadcasting System within the country. In December 1996, KCNA began publishing its news articles on the Internet with its web server located in Japan. Since October 2010, stories have been published on a new site, controlled from Pyongyang, and output has been significantly increased to include world stories with no specific link to North Korea as well as news from countries that have strong DPRK ties.
In addition to Korean, KCNA releases news articles in English, Russian and Spanish. Access to its website, along with other North Korean news sites, has been blocked by South Korea since 2004 and can be accessed only through the government's authorization. As well as serving as a news agency, it is also alleged to conduct clandestine intelligence collection.
KCNA has press exchange agreements with around 46 foreign news agencies including Itar-Tass and Xinhua News Agency and South Korea's Yonhap News Agency with correspondents and bureaux in six countries, including Russia and China. In 2004, the agency had employed 2,000 people.
According to its website, KCNA "speaks for the Workers' Party of Korea and the DPRK government". The agency has been described as the "official organ." In June 1964 on one of his first official activities, Kim Jong-il visited KCNA headquarters and said the agency should be "propagating the revolutionary ideology of the Leader (Kim Il-sung) widely throughout the world." However, the agency is also said to offer a unique insight into the North Korean "mentality."
A talk given to officials at KCNA on June 12, 1964, outlines the function of the news agency:
In order to become a powerful ideological weapon of our Party, the Korean Central News Agency must provide a news service in accordance with the idea and intention of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung, establish Juche firmly in its work and fully embody the Party spirit, the working class spirit and the spirit of serving the people. It must pay serious attention to each word, to each dot of the writings it releases because they express the standpoint of our Party and the Government of our Republic.— 
Under the principle and guideline on the work of ideological propaganda and agitation put by the country's ruling party, the Workers' Party of Korea, the agency generally reports only good news about the country that is intended to encourage its people and project a positive image abroad. Nonetheless, it has on occasion acknowledged food shortages in the country. The Ryongchon disaster was also reported in April 2004, after a delay of two days.
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KCNA articles generally revolve on several specific themes (examples in reference section):
- Detailing performances of cultural events, usually attended by various dignitaries.
- Decrying the actions and attitudes of the United States, Japan, South Korea and other nations, particularly concerning military cooperation, historical events or trade among those nations. Personal attacks on American, Japanese and South Korean leaders are not unknown.
- Airing the official DPRK position on ongoing disputes with Japan over such matters as Chongryon and comfort women.
- Noting the celebration of DPRK events and ideas in other countries.
- Calling for the reunification of Korea under the Juche idea.
- Promoting the personality cults of Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung. Such instances would detail the daily routines of the leaders, or praise from friendly organisations in other countries.
- Communications, visits and gifts (it does not name the particular gift) to and from various like-minded or friendly nations. Regarding the number of gifts, KCNA claimed that former leader Kim Il-sung receives "2,910 a year, 243 a month and 8 a day."
- New technological developments, such as a preservation agent for the Kimjongilia flower, a new kind of pesticide and blood purifying rings and bracelets, amongst others.
- Emphasizing the names of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un by enlarging their names on the text.
- References to institutes, groups or centres "for the study of the Juche idea". For example, a KCNA report from June 12, 2011 claimed that "The Brazilian Center for the Study of the Juche Idea was inaugurated with due ceremony at Sao Paulo University on June 4". The article also refers to an unnamed "chairman" (who presumably presided over the ceremony), but this supposed event was not reported by a source other than KCNA as of the date of the article (eight days after the ceremony was alleged to have occurred).
KCNA employs negative language, such as "traitors", "warmongers" or "human scum", for governments (especially South Korea and the United States), organisations or individuals, who are critical of the North Korean government. In contrast, Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung are attributed with positive characteristics such as "outstanding wisdom", "unique abilities" or "noble virtue".
New Year editorials
As a tradition since 1996, KCNA, along with the three main state run newspapers in North Korea, publishes a joint New Year editorial that outlines the country's policies for the year. The editorials usually offer praise for the Songun policy, the government and leadership, and encourage the growth of the nation. They are also critical of the policies of South Korea, Japan, the United States and Western governments towards the country. On January 1, 2006 the agency sent out a joint-editorial from North Korea's state newspapers calling for the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea. While annual January 1 editorials are a tradition among the papers, that year's brought attention from Western media outlets, by calling for a "nationwide campaign for driving out the U.S. troops". The editorial made several references to Korean reunification. The 2009 editorial received similar attention, as criticism of United States policy was absent, and the admission of severe economic problems in the country. The editorial also made reference to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula, in what analysts claimed was a "hopeful" sign. This was echoed again in its 2010 editorial, which called for an end to hostilities with the United States and a nuclear free Korean Peninsula.
The 2011 joint editorial edition, aside from its calls for a denuclearized Korea and for a slowdown of tensions between the two Koreas, has for the first time, mentioned the rising light industries of the DPRK, given as a reason for an upcoming upsurge in the national economy in the new year and for the achievement of the Kangsong Taeguk national mission.
The 2012 joint editorial edition, the first under Kim Jong-un's leadership, started with a great tribute to Kim Jong-il and aside from recurring calls for improving inter-Korean relations and for the fulfillment of the October 4 Declaration of 2007, also called on the whole nation to give priority to do Kim Jong-il's 2012 mission of Strong and Prosperous Nation, continue his and his father Kim Il-sung's legacies to the entire country and the socialist cause, and to build up and encourage the various sectors that compose the nation to become contributors to national progress in all areas at all costs.
This practice ended in 2013 when Kim Jong-un delivered the first New Year speech on television in 19 years.
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- North Korea Hunger. Reuters. July 10, 2008.
- A Talk to the Officials of the Korean Central News Agency June 12, 1964. KFA.
- Daily News about North Korea. The Chosun Ilbo. July 15, 2005.
- Shortages of food in the DPRK. KCNA. September 25, 2000.
- Is North Korea facing famine?, BBC News, June 25, 2008.
- Reeling, hungry, N Korea heads to nuke talks. Asia Times Online. May 7, 2004.
- KCNA Report on Explosion at Ryongchon Railway Station, KCNA, April 24, 2004.
- U.S. Scenario for Preemptive Nuclear Attack on DPRK Blasted, KCNA, December 11, 2005.
- KCNA Blasts Fukuda Regime's Suppression of Chongryon, KCNA, March 18, 2008.
- KCNA Blasts Lee Myung Bak Group's Anachronistic Confrontational Policy, KCNA, January 8, 2009.
- Chongryon on preserving national character, KCNA, May 21, 2002.
- Japanese Reactionaries' Moves to Cover up "Comfort Women" Issue under Fire, KCNA, November 6, 2006.
- All Koreans Urged to Remain True to Idea of "By Our Nation Itself", KCNA, January 9, 2009.
- DPRK's Important Days Marked in Foreign Countries, KCNA, March 18, 2008.
- Reporters without Borders 2005 report
- Meagre media for North Koreans. BBC News. October 10, 2006.
- Kim Jong Il Inspects KPA Unit, KCNA, August 2, 2007.
- Kim Jong Il's Leadership Praised in Peru and India, KCNA, June 30, 2005.
- Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Lauded, KCNA, January 8, 2009.
- Floral Basket and Congratulatory Letter to Kim Jong Il from Cambodia, KCNA, January 9, 2009.
- Reception for FM of Myanmar and His Party, KCNA, October 29, 2008.
- Chinese Art Troupe Gives Performances, KCNA, October 29, 2008.
- Many gifts to Kim Il Sung, KCNA, April 8, 2003.
- "Agent for Preserving Kimjongilia Developed", KCNA, October 21, 2008.
- New Kind of Pesticide Developed, KCNA, July 3, 2006.
- Blood-Purifying Finger Ring, KCNA, May 18, 2005.
- Brazilian Center for Study of Juche Idea Formed, KCNA, June 12, 2011.
- "KCNA Commentary Blasts S. Korean Mandarin's Hysteric Remarks". KCNA, January 30, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- "Kim Jong Un Elected First Chairman of NDC of DPRK". KCNA,April 13, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- North Korea issues New Year denuclearization pledge. Reuters. December 31, 2008.
- N. Korea Vows to Rebuild Economy in New Year Message, the Korea Times, January 1, 2009.
- "Joint New Year Editorial Issued", KCNA, January 1, 2006.
- "North Korea Demands U.S. Troop Withdrawal". .Fox News. December 31, 2005.
- 2009 Joint New Year Editorial Issued, KCNA, January 1, 2009.
- North Korea message is mild on US. BBC News. January 1, 2009.
- Kim, Sam (January 1, 2010). N. Korea calls for end to enmity with U.S., hints at return to nuclear talks. Yonhap.