North Korea maintained and expanded their efforts to jam broadcasts into North Korea by Christian radio broadcaster Voice of the Martyrs Korea in 2022. But according to Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, the increased jamming activity is a good sign.
“Increased jamming means that the broadcast is working,” said Representative Foley.
Representative Foley says that research from independent private analysts shows that Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s broadcasts have continued to be among the highest-priority information blocking targets of the North Korean authorities. She says that quick-response countermeasures based on daily broadcast monitoring and analysis have significantly mitigated the jamming efforts.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea broadcasts five daily 30-minute-long shortwave radio programs. Each program contains readings of the North Korean dialect Chosun Bible by North Korean voice actors, sermons from early Korean Christians read by Voice of the Martyrs Korea volunteers, and hymns that are popular among North Korean underground Christians, sung by North Koreans. “We do not publicly announce the radio frequencies or broadcast times for security reasons,” says Representative Foley, “And we regularly change the radio frequencies and broadcast times in order to address jamming efforts.”
She says no one in North Korea would have a difficult time finding Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s broadcasts, since they are aired throughout the day and night on one of the strongest shortwave signals into North Korea.
According to Representative Foley, radio broadcasting remains by far the most effective and safest way to reach audiences inside of North Korea.
“Considering North Korea’s severely restricted borders, as well as the regime’s ever-tightening ‘total surveillance state’ model that uses digital tracking similar to the Chinese model, shortwave radio is the safest medium for North Koreans to access Christian content.”
Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea has received confidential reports from radio industry sources that as many as 10% of the North Korean population may have been exposed to its broadcasts. Representative Foley says that North Korean defectors arriving in South Korea will sometimes comment to her about the broadcasts.
A Voice of the Martyrs Korea volunteer records a sermon by an early Korean Christian for the ministry’s daily radio broadcast into North Korea.
According to Representative Foley, Voice of the Martyrs Korea uses shortwave broadcasts because they are harder for authorities to jam than medium wave (AM) radio.
“Medium wave frequencies cannot be changed or adjusted as easily as shortwave frequencies,” she says. “Compared to sustained interference against a single, fixed, more expensive medium wave broadcast which has to be targeted to a narrower area, government interference against shortwave broadcasts has to be spread out across different portions of each broadcast, across different time periods, and across the broader shortwave broadcast geography. That’s expensive and difficult for governments, and so it enables an even greater share of shortwave–transmitted programs to reach North Koreans.”
Representative Foley says that when jamming happens, Voice of the Martyrs Korea is able to detect it quickly and make adjustments to bypass or limit the effectiveness of the jamming. She says the organization’s effectiveness in countering North Korea’s rising jamming efforts is “partly experience, partly technology, but mostly prayer.” She asks Christians to join Voice of the Martyrs Korea in what she calls “prayer-jamming the government jamming”.
“Prayer can ‘jam’ the government’s technical jamming efforts, so we should pray for the Lord to grant a clear signal for each of our five gospel radio broadcasts every day,” she says.
Representative Foley also requests prayers for the broadcasts’ listeners.
“Pray for all North Koreans who hear the gospel, even today,” she says. “Listening to the gospel on shortwave radio is extremely dangerous, and yet we know that only God’s word can bring true life to those living in danger.”
“The content of our radio broadcasts is only gospel,” adds Representative Foley. “Our content is not politics, current events, K-Pop, or information about South Korean life. The purpose is Christian discipleship, not defection.”
Individuals interested in hearing the Voice of the Martyrs Korea daily radio broadcasts into North Korea can listen online, at http://www.podbbang.com/ch/1768188. More information about Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s North Korea radio broadcasts is available at www.vomkorea.com/en/radio. Individuals interested in helping to prepare the broadcasts can contact Voice of the Martyrs Korea at 02-2065-0703.