"When I was taking part in the student movement of the 1980s, the most encouraging thing was broadcasts towards South Korea from North Korea. We used to use the broadcast contents for our educational and propaganda materials. Of course, due to that activism, which was a National Security Law violation, I went to prison in the early 1990s". Lee Kwang Baik, the President of Radio Free Chosun (RFC), a lesser-known SW radio broadcast NGO in South Korea, explained his experience of executing a 180-degree turn from pro-North Korea social activist into North Korean democratization activist to Daily NK on Monday. He confessed, "In the mid-1990s, for the first time, I figured out that North Korea was not an ideal society, but a dictatorship in which the regime abused people’s human rights in the extreme just to maintain the system". In light of which, Lee introduced RFC’s goal, "North Korea should develop its economy through democratization and opening and reform. RFC is a broadcasting company to help North Korean people achieve this and to speak as a proxy for the North Korean people’s position and sentiment, so we named the organization RFC; not "Radio Free North Korea", but "Radio Free Chosun"". Chosun is how North Koreans refer to their own country.
Below is extracts of a transcript of the interview with Lee Kwang Baik:
- There are four civilian radio broadcasters for North Korea and also two foreign radio broadcasts like RFA and VOA targeting North Korea. What is the difference between you and them?
There are three different points. First, RFC has a distinct purpose: "North Korea should develop its economy through democratization and reform and opening", and we are striving to help North Korean people achieve it. Second, RFC is a broadcaster in which everyone, wherever they come from, can join our activities. Presently, North Koreans, South Koreans and Chinese cooperate on our goals. Third, RFC transfers overseas information by way of drama, so that North Korean people can understand easily and get it vividly.
- What are RFC’s representative programs?
We have "Episodes and Truth" that lets North Korean people perceive the truth of current issues, and a drama "Virtual Court of Kim Jong Il", that shows how extreme a dictatorship North Korea has, how terribly people suffer under the Kim Jong Il regime, and other hidden stories of the dictator. Additionally, we have also comments and statements in order to suggest
better directions for North Korea’s future.
- How many North Korean people do you think listen to RFC? How far away can North Korean people listen to it? Are you monitoring the broadcasting situation?
According to the results of InterMedia’s examination in 2008, the rate of those who had listened to RFC was around five percent, but we presume around one or two percent of people are listening to it. However, I think even this rate is significant. The first aim of RFC is to raise the listener rate to two or three percent in a few years. It is short wave radio broadcasting, so everywhere on earth people can listen to it. As long as jamming by the North Korean regime does not exist, it can be heard all over the country.
- You must want a lot from the South Korean government.
The government needs to support radio broadcasting with medium-wave frequencies, which are more stable than short wave ones, in order to lead North Korea to change itself, and it has to do so strategically, because of course the North Korean issue is a highly significant issue for the future of the Korean Peninsula. The state-owned Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) airs programs for the North Korean people at medium-wave, but it has to focus not only on transferring information but on having an interest in changing North Korean society. (The Daily North Korea Post via Sælaen in DXplorer)
(DSWCI-DX Window 377)