In North Korea, as President George W. Bush said in his January 28th State of the Union address, “an oppressive regime rules a people living in fear and starvation.” In addition to denying the North Korean people their basic rights, North Korea’s Communist rulers have been working to develop nuclear weapons that could threaten neighboring countries and the peace of the world.
In the face of these tensions, it is essential that the North Korean people be able to hear the facts about their own country and the world. That is what the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia seek to do with their Korean-language broadcasts. And to do it better, both V-O-A and R-F-A have increased their broadcasting hours in Korean.
R-F-A has increased its Korean broadcasts to four hours daily and V-O-A to three hours daily. Both transmit on various short-wave frequencies to help listeners avoid jamming by the North Korean government. And because only a small number of North Koreans have short-wave receivers, V-O-A also broadcasts on medium-wave.
V-O-A first went on the air in February 1942 and began broadcasting in Korean in August of that same year. As its charter makes clear, V-O-A is required to “serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news,” “present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions,” and “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively.” R-F-A was established in 1994, and its Korean broadcasts began in 1997. R-F-A’s special mission is to broadcast news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting on their domestic media. This is crucial in North Korea, where domestic radio, television, newspapers, and magazines are totally controlled by the Communist government.
For decades, as President Bush said at V-O-A’s sixtieth anniversary celebration last year, U.S. international broadcasters have “told the world the truth” and shown “freedom’s strength and determination.” With increased broadcasts to the oppressed people of North Korea, V-O-A and R-F-A continue to fulfill what President Bush called “a special trust.”