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Korean Central News Agency

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Korean Central News Agency
Company typeState-owned
IndustryNews agency
FoundedDecember 5, 1946; 77 years ago (1946-12-05)
Headquarters1 Potonggang-dong, Potonggang District, ,
Number of locations
Many municipal offices, correspondents and bureaus in six other countries
Area served
Key people
Kim Chang-gwang (Director General)
OwnerKorean Central Broadcasting Committee
Number of employees
Korean Central News Agency
조선중앙통신 / 조선통신사
朝鮮中央通信 / 朝鮮通信社
Revised RomanizationJoseon Jungangtongsin / Joseon Tongsinsa
McCune–ReischauerChosŏn Chungangt'ongsin / Chosŏn T'ongsinsa

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) is the state news agency of North Korea.[1][2][3] The agency portrays the views of the North Korean government for both domestic and foreign consumption. It was established on December 5, 1946, and now features online coverage.[4]


KCNA works under the Korean Central Broadcasting Committee, through which it is ultimately controlled by the Workers' Party of Korea's Propaganda and Agitation Department.[5] 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[6] as well as news from countries that have strong DPRK ties.

In addition to Korean, KCNA releases news translated into English, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, 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.[7][8] As well as serving as a news agency, it also produces summaries of world news to North Korean officials and publishes the Korean Central Yearbook [ko].[1][9][10] It is also alleged to conduct clandestine intelligence collection.[11]

Based in the capital Pyongyang, at 1 Potonggang-dong, Potonggang District,[12] KCNA has bureaus in several municipalities.[1] KCNA also has press exchange agreements with around 46 foreign news agencies,[13][page needed] including South Korea's Yonhap.[14] Its closest partners, however, are TASS and Xinhua News Agency.[1] KCNA has correspondents and bureaus in six countries, including Russia and China.[15] The correspondents are located in Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, India, and Egypt.[9] KCNA also collaborates with Reuters and the Associated Press, the latter of which has a permanent bureau in Pyongyang. KCNA journalists have trained abroad with the BBC and Reuters.[1] KCNA is a member of Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies since 1982.[1][9] The agency employs 800 people.[9]

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."[16] 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."[17] However, the agency is also said to offer a unique insight into the North Korean "mentality."[18][19]

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.[20]

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.[21] Nonetheless, it has on occasion acknowledged food shortages in the country.[22][23] The Ryongchon disaster was also reported in April 2004, after a delay of two days.[24][25]

The Director General of KCNA is Kim Chang-gwang.[9] KCNA has a sports team in the annual Paektusan Prize Games of Civil Servants.[26]

Recurring themes[edit]

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,[27] Japan,[28] South Korea[29] and other nations, particularly concerning military cooperation, historical events or trade among those nations. Personal attacks on American, Japanese and South Korean leaders are common.[30]
  • Airing the official DPRK position on ongoing disputes with Japan over such matters as Chongryon[31] and comfort women.[32]
  • Noting the celebration of DPRK events and ideas in other countries.[33]
  • Calling for the reunification of Korea under the Juche ideology.[34][35]
  • Promoting the popularity of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un.[15][36][37] Such instances would detail the daily routines of the leaders,[38] or praise from friendly organisations in other countries.[35][39][40]
  • Communications, visits and gifts (it does not name the particular gift) to and from various like-minded or friendly nations.[41][42][43] 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."[44]
  • New technological developments, such as a preservation agent for the Kimjongilia flower,[45] a new kind of pesticide[46] and "blood purifying" rings and bracelets [a quack remedy],[47] amongst others.
  • Emphasizing the names of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un by enlarging their names to appear larger than the rest of the text.[48]
  • 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".[49] 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).

Editorial practices[edit]

KCNA employs language, such as "traitors", "warmongers" or "human scum", for governments (especially those of South Korea and the United States), organizations and individuals who are deemed characteristic of those terms.[50] In contrast, Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are credited for their "outstanding wisdom", "unique abilities" or "noble virtue".[51]

New Year editorials[edit]

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.[52][53] 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.[54] 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".[55] 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.[56][57] 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.[58]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

This practice ended in 2013 when Kim Jong Un delivered the first New Year speech on television in 19 years.[59]


Following the purge and execution of Jang Song-thaek, KCNA conducted its largest censorship operation on its webpage. Some 35,000 articles of Korean-language original reporting were deleted. Counting translations, a total of 100,000 articles were removed. Additionally, some articles were edited to omit Jang's name.[60] Not all of the deleted articles mentioned Jang directly.[61]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Hoare, James E. (2012). "Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)". Historical Dictionary of Democratic People's Republic of Korea. London: Scarecrow Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-8108-7987-4.
  2. ^ "North Korea". Reporters Without Borders. July 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "In North Korea, the state-run news agency is the weapon of choice". Washington Post. April 28, 2013.
  4. ^ Shrivastava, K. M. (2007). News Agencies from Pigeon to Internet. Elgin: New Dawn Press Group. p. 211. ISBN 978-1-932705-67-6.
  5. ^ "KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department" (PDF). North Korea Leadership Watch. November 2009. pp. 1–2. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  6. ^ "KCNA significantly increasing output". North Korea Tech. March 4, 2011.
  7. ^ Christian Oliver (April 1, 2010). "Sinking underlines South Korean view of state as monster". London: Financial Times. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  8. ^ North Korea Newsletter No. 56 (May 28, 2009) Archived September 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Yonhap. May 28, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c d e "KCNA". OANA NEWS. Retrieved August 17, 2022.
  10. ^ 조선중앙년감. WorldCat. OCLC 873700160. Retrieved August 17, 2022.
  11. ^ Henderson, Robert (2003). Brassey's International Intelligence Yearbook: 2003 Edition. Brassey's. p. 292. ISBN 978-1-57488-550-7.
  12. ^ Pares 2005, p. 188.
  13. ^ Pares 2005.
  14. ^ About Us Archived March 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Yonhap.
  15. ^ a b "Koreascope Mass Media". Archived from the original on April 12, 2009.
  16. ^ Quick, A. C. (2003). World Press Encyclopedia: A Survey of Press Systems Worldwide. (2nd eds.) Gale. ISBN 978-0-7876-5584-6.
  17. ^ Lee, H. (2001). North Korea: A Strange Socialist Fortress. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 67. ISBN 978-0-275-96917-2)
  18. ^ Bennett, G. & Dresner, D. (1999). Directory of Web Sites. Taylor & Francis. pp.580. ISBN 978-1-57958-179-4.
  19. ^ North Korea Hunger Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Reuters. July 10, 2008.
  20. ^ A Talk to the Officials of the Korean Central News Agency June 12, 1964 Archived March 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. KFA.
  21. ^ Daily News about North Korea Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. The Chosun Ilbo. July 15, 2005.
  22. ^ Shortages of food in the DPRK. KCNA. September 25, 2000.
  23. ^ Is North Korea facing famine? Archived March 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, BBC News, June 25, 2008.
  24. ^ Reeling, hungry, N Korea heads to nuke talks. Asia Times Online. May 7, 2004.
  25. ^ KCNA Report on Explosion at Ryongchon Railway Station Archived April 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, April 24, 2004.
  26. ^ "Civil servants play basketball tournament". The Pyongyang Times. KCNA. January 26, 2017. Archived from the original on November 27, 2017. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  27. ^ U.S. Scenario for Preemptive Nuclear Attack on DPRK Blasted Archived February 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, December 11, 2005.
  28. ^ KCNA Blasts Fukuda Regime's Suppression of Chongryon Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, March 18, 2008.
  29. ^ KCNA Blasts Lee Myung Bak Group's Anachronistic Confrontational Policy Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, January 8, 2009.
  30. ^ Gajanan, Mahita (September 21, 2017). "Kim Jong Un Called President Trump a 'Dotard.' What Does That Mean?". Time. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  31. ^ Chongryon on preserving national character Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, May 21, 2002.
  32. ^ Japanese Reactionaries' Moves to Cover up "Comfort Women" Issue under Fire Archived April 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, November 6, 2006.
  33. ^ "August 27. 2009 Juche 98". Archived from the original on September 3, 2009. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
  34. ^ All Koreans Urged to Remain True to Idea of "By Our Nation Itself" Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, January 9, 2009.
  35. ^ a b DPRK's Important Days Marked in Foreign Countries Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, March 18, 2008.
  36. ^ Reporters without Borders 2005 report Archived April 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ Meagre media for North Koreans Archived January 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. BBC News. October 10, 2006.
  38. ^ Kim Jong Il Inspects KPA Unit Archived May 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, August 2, 2007.
  39. ^ Kim Jong Il's Leadership Praised in Peru and India Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, June 30, 2005.
  40. ^ Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Lauded Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, January 8, 2009.
  41. ^ Floral Basket and Congratulatory Letter to Kim Jong Il from Cambodia Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, January 9, 2009.
  42. ^ Reception for FM of Myanmar and His Party Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, October 29, 2008.
  43. ^ Chinese Art Troupe Gives Performances Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, October 29, 2008.
  44. ^ Many gifts to Kim Il Sung Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, April 8, 2003.
  45. ^ "Agent for Preserving Kimjongilia Developed" Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, October 21, 2008.
  46. ^ New Kind of Pesticide Developed Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, July 3, 2006.
  47. ^ Blood-Purifying Finger Ring Archived April 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, May 18, 2005.
  48. ^ Williams, Martyn (December 25, 2011). "State websites raise name of Kim Jong Un". North Korea Tech. Martyn Williams. Archived from the original on April 19, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2023.
  49. ^ Brazilian Center for Study of Juche Idea Formed Archived May 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, June 12, 2011.
  50. ^ "KCNA Commentary Blasts S. Korean Mandarin's Hysteric Remarks". KCNA. January 30, 2013. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  51. ^ "Kim Jong Un Elected First Chairman of NDC of DPRK". KCNA. April 13, 2012. Archived from the original on May 10, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  52. ^ North Korea issues New Year denuclearization pledge Archived April 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Reuters. December 31, 2008.
  53. ^ N. Korea Vows to Rebuild Economy in New Year Message Archived June 9, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, the Korea Times, January 1, 2009.
  54. ^ "Joint New Year Editorial Issued" Archived May 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, January 1, 2006.
  55. ^ "North Korea Demands U.S. Troop Withdrawal" Archived March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Fox News. December 31, 2005.
  56. ^ 2009 Joint New Year Editorial Issued Archived March 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, January 1, 2009.
  57. ^ North Korea message is mild on US Archived February 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. BBC News. January 1, 2009.
  58. ^ Kim, Sam (January 1, 2010). N. Korea calls for end to enmity with U.S., hints at return to nuclear talks Archived February 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Yonhap.
  59. ^ "North Korea's Kim Jong-un makes rare new year speech". BBC News. January 1, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  60. ^ Florcruz, Michelle (December 16, 2013). "Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) Deletes Online Archive Of News After Execution Of Jang Song Thaek". International Business Times. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  61. ^ Weiser, Martin (October 31, 2016). "On Reading North Korean Media: The Curse of the Web". Sino-NK. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2017.

Works cited[edit]

  • Pares, S (2005). A Political and Economic Dictionary of East Asia: An Essential Guide to the Politics and Economics of East Asia. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85743-258-9.

External links[edit]