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BBC launch Korean language service across both North and South Korea
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승인 2017.09.27  11:55:44
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▲ Screenshot of the BBC's new Korean language service

Yesterday, British Broadcaster BBC launched a long-awaited Korean service. This will come through a news website, radio transmissions, and Facebook and Instagram pages.

The Korean language service is one of 12 new foreign language services to be offered by the BBC and it joins the existing Chinese and Japanese services in East Asia.

According to a statement from the BBC, the service will provide news, sport, business, and culture articles through its website and radio transmissions.

People hoping to listen to the radio broadcast will have to perhaps change their regular listening habits, though. This is because the radio service will be broadcast at half past midnight in Korea.

Why is this?

Well, while South Korean listeners will no doubt get value from the web service offered, the radio station itself will be broadcast throughout the "Korean Peninsula."

This means that if there happens to be people in North Korea who are able to listen to the radio, they could theoretically listen to the BBC broadcast as well.

According to a survey carried out by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, people in North Korea do actually listen to foreign language radio. In fact, after interviewing refugees from North Korea they found that 27 percent of respondents had listened to foreign radio while in North Korea.

The same survey also found that audience levels in North Korea climb from around 9:00 p.m and reach their height at around midnight.

This is presumably because listening to foreign radio is illegal and dangerous and anyone wanting to do so would have less chance of being caught later on at night. This explains the seemingly strange broadcast times.

The radios that people use to listen to these broadcasts are generally illegal radios brought in from China or modified fixed dial radios.

The BBC isn't the first radio service to target North Korea. In fact, Korea's KBS, U.S.-backed Radio Free Asia, The Unification Media Group, and various other broadcasters all offer a service in the DPRK.

Will it work?

One major problem is that it is possible for the North Korean Government to jam the radio signal. In fact, the 5810kHz channel was almost unlistenable when it was first broadcast yesterday.

The BBC will try to get around this by broadcasting on both the shortwave and the longwave radio frequency.

While there is no doubt that the potential number of listeners will be small, the fact that there is evidence of people in North Korea listening to foreign radio, and examples of other broadcasts that have done so, does suggest that the potential for the service to get through to people in North Korea is there.

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