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Thursday, February 26, 2009

RFA on North Koreans listening to RFA

From Kim Andrew Elliott:
Radio Free Asia vice president Dan Southerland interviews Russian historian Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea and RFA commentator: "Q: It seems to me there is still a role for radio. Defectors I have spoken with recently say that people in the elite are listening to Radio Free Asia. A: Radio is widely used, and it is very important that short-wave radios with free [instead of fixed] tuning are being smuggled. Radios are used largely by the elite—not by people who want fresh entertainment, but by people who want information about what’s going on outside of the country. So most listeners are intellectuals or officials or people who are serious about getting out of the country. Five or six stations broadcast into North Korea right now, and these stations are mostly listened to by these people. They are clearly a minority, but politically they are very significant … A person who has been making a bit of money by selling pancakes on the market may buy a DVD player and watch romances. But radio is for, say, a secret police captain who knows that the system is in trouble and wants to figure out what’s going on and how to save his skin. Radio broadcasting provides him with the intelligence he needs to do this. Q: We had some independent research last year showing that some of these border traders, some of these smugglers and so forth—they call themselves 'businesspeople' — are also listening to radio. It’s quite a significant percentage in a rather limited survey. A: If you look at people who are in China, you will see that radio listeners are overrepresented among this group when compared to the general population. Because if you go to China, you have to listen. Most of these people want to know the current trends." Radio Free Asia, 23 February 2009.

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