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BBC Korea Service expected to start as early as 2017

Photo: BBC
Photo: BBC

It was confirmed today that Korean would be one of the 11 additional languages in which the BBC World Service will broadcast. An accompanying interview with a BBC official on this morning’s Today programme said that the Korean content is likely to be a half-hour daily news programme focused on regional current affairs, though world news would also be covered: for example as far as the BBC global news monitoring service is aware, Trump’s election victory has still not been announced in DPRK news broadcasts.

Although the new service will be broadcast to the he whole peninsula, campaigners have been focusing on reaching a North Korean audience. Lord Alton of Liverpool, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, welcomed the announcement in a press release on the group’s website. Michael Glendenning, James Burt and Jihyun Park of the European Alliance for Human Rights in Morth Korea issued the following statement:

The European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea warmly welcomes today’s announcement of a BBC World Service in the Korean-language. Today’s announcement follows many years of work by our organization and others, and we are heartened that these efforts will soon allow the people of North Korea to receive new and objective information directly from London.

In December 2013, we released our paper ‘An Unmet Need: a proposal for the BBC to broadcast a World Service in the Korean language’. Nearly three years on, this has become a reality. Today, it well known that North Korea prevents its citizens from accessing and consuming foreign media. In spite of the Constitution of North Korea guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom of the press, North Korea remains a black hole for non-state sanctioned information. The BBC’s announcement should give all North Koreans hope that this situation will not last for much longer.

A BBC service for North Korea is not simply a radio station. It is a message of hope. We are heartened that the BBC and the United Kingdom Government are voicing opposition to the repression of the North Korean Government and actively breaking Pyongyang’s stranglehold over its people. Actions will be heard louder than words in Pyongyang. EAHRNK have long called for Separative Engagement and for direct action to be taken against those in Pyongyang. Guaranteeing objective information and news beyond the control of the North Korean state is one important way to move North Korea’s victims away from their abusers.

The challenges of North Korea are as immense as they are urgent. A BBC World Service in the Korean-language will soon begin to undermine one of the most violent and criminal regimes of the modern era. EAHRNK will continue our work and look forward to the day when free North Koreans herald the historic moment when the BBC allowed change to seem possible.

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