Voice of Korea

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Voice of Korea
Type Radio network
Country North Korea
Availability International
Owner Korean Central Broadcasting Committee
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.
An old Radio Pyongyang pennant.

Voice of Korea (Chosŏn'gŭl조선 소리; MRChosŏn-ŭi Sori) is the international broadcasting service of North 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 that of Korean Central Television.


The origins of Voice of Korea can be traced to 1936 and the 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 was founded in October 1945 as Radio Pyongyang,[2] and officially inaugurated programming on the 14th, with a live broadcast of the victory speech of Kim Il-sung when he returned to Pyongyang at the end of World War II.[citation needed]

The first foreign broadcast was in Chinese on 16 March 1947. Japanese-language broadcasts began in 1950, followed by English (1951), French and Russian (1963), Spanish (1965), Arabic (1970), and German (1983).[3]

By 1960, Radio Pyongyang broadcast 159 hours of programming every week. In 1970, weekly broadcasting hours totaled 330 hours and by 1980, 597 hours. In 1990 weekly broadcasting time fell to 534 hours per week,[4] 529 in 1994, and 364 in 1996.[3]

In 2002, the station was renamed Voice of Korea.[2]


Voice of Korea broadcasts on HF or shortwave radio frequencies,[2] as well as on medium wave for broadcasts aimed at neighboring countries. Some frequencies are well out of the ITU-allocated shortwave broadcast bands, making them less susceptible to interference and less likely to be listenable on older receivers.[citation needed] Recently, it has increased the share of satellite broadcasting.[2]

Most of the broadcasts are transmitted from the Kujang shortwave transmitter site (five 200 kW transmitters),[5][3] approximately 25 km from the city of Kujang.[5] A transmitter site in Kanggye (also five 200 kW) is used as well. A site in Pyongyang (10 transmitters of 200 kW) is also in use.[3]

In the past, the station broadcast coded messages to North Korean spies. This practice ended with the 2000 June 15th North–South Joint Declaration.[2] In 2006 VOK started broadcasting on the same frequency as the Lincolnshire Poacher numbers station[6][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.[7] 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.[8][9]

Voice of Korea broadcasts on the Thaicom 5 satellite 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 are the top bulletins.[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 57-minute broadcast concludes with frequency information and a sign-off message.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Voice of Korea mid-2014 schedule". North Korea Tech. 27 March 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Hoare, James E. (2012). "Voice of Korea". Historical Dictionary of Democratic People's Republic of Korea. London: Scarecrow Press. p. 395. ISBN 978-0-8108-7987-4. 
  3. ^ a b c d Wood 2000, p. 158.
  4. ^ Wood 2000, p. 20.
  5. ^ a b Martyn Williams (April 29, 2011). "Kujang shortwave transmitter site". North Korea Tech. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  6. ^ Info about the clash. October 3, 2010.
  7. ^ Martyn Williams (February 24, 2012). "DPRK radio disappears". North Korea Tech. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  8. ^ Martyn Williams (July 22, 2013). "Some North Korean external radio, jamming reportedly off air". North Korea Tech. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  9. ^ Martyn Williams (March 28, 2012). "Voice of Korea still having problems staying on-air". North Korea Tech. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 

Works cited[edit]

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