Feb 18, 2010
The Voice of Freedom: Improving Radio Programs for the Citizens of North Korea
Mr. Sangsoo Kim
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
with comments by
Mr. Nathaniel Kretchun
Mr. John Knaus
National Endowment for Democracy
At present, the political future of North Korea remains deeply in question: the previous diplomatic effort to resolve its nuclear crisis through the six-party talks are stalled; its human rights abuses are often recorded as among the worst in the world; and North Koreans currently suffer unprecedented rates of poverty in an extremely isolated and repressive environment.
The international community currently addresses the above crises by means of elite-level diplomatic interactions and the distribution of humanitarian aid. What has garnered less public attention, however, is the pivotal information exchange currently occurring between U.S. and South-Korean based shortwave radio stations and the North Korean people. Shortwave radio broadcasting by stations like Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Free North Korea Radio, and Open Radio North Korea continues to play a central role in opening communication channels to North Korea, providing timely information of current affairs and increasing public political awareness among North Koreans.
Mr. Sangsoo Kim, a news anchorman for the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) station in South Korea, draws upon his previous work producing a television program focusing on North Korean issues to offer his personal views on the various radio stations currently broadcasting to North Korea. He offered his suggestions on how these stations can continue to grow and expand the information exchange occurring between the North Korean people and those outside the “Hermit Kingdom.”
His presentation was followed by comments by Nathaniel Kretchun of InterMedia and John Knaus of the National Endowment for Democracy.
Mr. Sangsoo Kim is an anchorman for Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), one of South Korea’s three main television networks. As MBC anchor, he hosts the MBC late night news, the country’s most-watched and highest-rated program during its time slot. Mr. Kim also hosted a weekly news magazine, “North Korea Observatory,” the longest-running domestic news program covering North Korean affairs. He is the author of a book in Korean, Life of North Koreans (2005), and producer of an award-winning documentary series called “Maritime Silk-Road.” During his fellowship, Mr. Kim is exploring ways in which media broadcasts—particularly those from the United States and South Korea—may contribute to a viable democratization process in North Korea.
Mr. Nathaniel Kretchun is project manager for East Asia at InterMedia.
Mr. John Knaus is senior program officer for Asia at the National Endowment for Democracy and has worked with NED’s Asia programs since 1997.