Micro micro broadcasting

Buried in the second half of a Japan Times story about Japan’s dogged pursuit of resolution over the North Korean abduction issues was the following.

A Japanese citizens group is one step closer to getting approval to air Japanese-language programs intended for Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.

The International Telecommunication Union, a Geneva-based body set up to standardize and regulate international radio and telecommunications, informed the government Monday that it is prepared to allocate a shortwave frequency band to the group, sources said.

 Seriously? They want to actually broadcast programs specially prepared for a population which is at most 8 people, but which North Korea claims is actually zero? Personally, I have always suspected that North Korea was being entirely truthful when they said that the remaining abductees are all dead, but that they are probably trying to cover up the circumstances of their deaths, whether by suicide, execution, starvation, or whatever unpleasant means it was.

But even if North Korea was lying and the 8 are still alive, this is still an absolutely mind-stunningly dumb plan. First of all, there is the fact that short-wave radios are entirely banned in Korea-the only radios permitted for non governmental use can only be tuned to government preset stations, which presumably does not include “Japan Abductee News.” And think about the staggering inefficiency of this plan. How much effort exactly do they propose to spend on preparing radio broadcasts that have a virtually zero chance of getting to the intended audience, which let us remember is only eight people to begin with! I can sort of understand the enormous efforts to actually retrieve or at least discover the fates of kidnapped citizens, but why send out messages that a: probably no one will here and b: even if they did, no-one back in Japan would ever know that they had heard it.

3 thoughts on “Micro micro broadcasting”

  1. It would have been much more efficient to burn the message into the surface of the moon. There’s no way Kim Jong Il can block people from seeing the moon… or is there?

  2. That’s exactly what it is, a half of an article. Here’s a full article on the deal.

    For one thing, the Japan Times half article does not state the reason the group (COMJAN) was trying to obtain a deal with the government, the North Koreans were jamming their original frequency.

    Why would North Korea jam the broadcast? This leads to the belief that there are no un-pretuned shortwave radios inside North Korea. True, North Korean law bans the possession of un-pretuned shortwave radio. But like any other unjust law, it is simple to get around it.

    Shortwave radios are frequently smuggled into the country. The proprietors of the Shiokaze and similar groups are usually the ones that provide them. This is not the first time this problem has been brought up.

    Then there is the second problem. How would anyone know if the abductees are listening? Once again, not the first time this has been brought up. Here is an interview from last year of the Director of Shiokaze. Granted, he is running mostly on hope (and is most certainly not broadcasting to only 8 people), but it is not impossible for an abductee to pop up in China one day.

    Do I believe Shiokaze is going to be successful? I highly doubt it. But then do I think it is dumb idea? No, since there are no other better alternatives available at this time. With the Japanese government investing heavily on the abduction issue, I also cannot see how they could reject such a broadcast.

    I cannot fault the group for trying.

  3. Absolutely there are shortwave radios on the loose in North Korea- but we know very well from the testimony of returnees that the abductees are very heavily monitored. Maybe a regular North Korean citizen would have a chance to get their hands on a black market radio, but the idea that one of the Japanese kidnap victims could find one just seems ridiculous to me-nothing more than a desperate fantasy.

    As for Shiokaze, I thought this quote from the interview was the most important- “I have not met a refugee who listened to our program while in North Korea.” I think the idea of broadcasting outside news to North Korea, including news from a Japanese perspective, is perfectly reasonable, but both of these articles give the impression that Shiokaze cares more about the 8 Japanese victims than the 20 million North Korean victims, and doesn’t even say if the broadcast is in Japanese (which would clearly be useless to the North Korean audience) or in Korean-as it should be. Maybe Shiokaze also cares about the Koreans, but it’s their fault for giving such a lousy interview and making me think that they don’t.

Comments are closed.