Other Korean Station Goodies

When you would write to a shortwave station requesting a QSL verification card, they might send you some additional goodies as well.  Here are pennants I received from Radio Korea and Radio Pyongyang.  Not many broadcasters sent pennants, so they were a prized gift to receive.

radio korea penant

Pennant from Radio Korea

 

pyongyang pennant

Pennant from Radio Pyongyang

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Korean QSL Verification Cards

Keeping with the Korean theme from the previous post, here are QSLs cards I received from South Korea (Radio Korea) and North Korea (Radio Pyongyang).

korea1

                                       Radio Korea (Front)

korea2

                                      Radio Korea (Back)

 

Here is a brief recent history about Korea taken from Wikipedia:

With the surrender of Japan in 1945 the United Nations developed plans for a trusteeship administration, the Soviet Union administering the peninsula north of the 38th parallel and the United States administering the south. The politics of the Cold War resulted in the 1948 establishment of two separate governments, North Korea and South Korea.

In June 1950 North Korea invaded the South, using Soviet tanks and weaponry. During the Korean War (1950–53) more than one million people died and the three years of fighting throughout the nation effectively destroyed most cities.[48] The war ended in an Armistice Agreement at approximately the Military Demarcation Line.

The aftermath of World War II left Korea partitioned along the 38th parallel, with the north under Soviet occupation and the south under US occupation supported by other allied states. Consequently, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a Soviet-style socialist republic, was established in the north while the Republic of Korea, a Western-style regime, was established in the South.”

 

In a previous post I mentioned how I got the QSL verification card from Radio Pyongyang.  I went to the post office to mail a letter to the station with information on the broadcast I heard and to request a QSL verification card. The lady working at the Post Office entered the address/country information but nothing came up in the computer. Mail could not be sent from the U.S. to North Korea! I eventually found a kind shortwave listener in Europe who offered his services to forward letters on to North Korea. It took a while, but I eventually received a reply back with the treasured QSL card.  The Radio Pyongyang broadcasts didn’t come in all that well and the audio quality was always poor.  Even if the signal was fairly strong, it was still hard to understand the English broadcasts.

pyongyang1

                                       Radio Pyongyang (Front)

pyongyang2

                                             Radio Pyongyang (Back)

If you want to read a great book and a real-life story of someone who fought in the Korean war definitely get a book called “Hell in the Land of the Morning Calm” written by a man named Dallas Plemmons. I happened upon his testimony on television a long time ago and was enthralled. Once I started reading the book I couldn’t put it down, and finished it in one sitting. It’s amazing he made it out alive. I have an older version (see below), but there are newer used versions available on Amazon.com. After you read his story, you will definitely understand why people say “war is hell”.

plemmons

Link to book on Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Hell-land-morning-Dallas-Plemmons/dp/0941551245

Here is a link to Mr. Plemmons website:

http://dallasplemmons.org/index.html

Nippon no Kaze – 日本の風

While tuning around the shortwave radio bands yesterday I came across an interesting station on 9950 KHz. It was broadcasting in Korean, but the signal was not that strong. One beneficial skill I’ve learned over the years from listening to shortwave radio is being able to tell what language is being spoken ( even though I don’t understand what is being said). I checked an online shortwave station guide, and the only station shown broadcasting at that time and on that frequency was a station out of Japan called “Nippon no Kaze” ( 日本の風) or “Wind of Japan“.

This was somewhat intriguing because I had never heard of the station before and it was also broadcasting from Japan! After a quick internet search, I found that it is a broadcast aimed at N. Korea to reach Japanese citizens who have been abducted. I found a website relating to the broadcast at the link below:

http://www.rachi.go.jp/en/shisei/radio/

The webpage name in English is “Abductions of Japanese Citizens by North Korea” with an address in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. In Japanese it’s:

北朝鮮による日本人拉致問題

北朝鮮 (きたちょうせん): North Korea
による: because of, due to, by means of
日本人 (にほんじん) : Japanese people
拉致 (らち) : abduction, kidnapping
問題 (もんだい) : problem

So you can see in the URL (www.rachi.go.jp) the word rachi (らち), written in kanji it’s 拉致 and means abduction.

Brief information about the broadcast taken from the website is shown below.

“This program is provided by the Japanese government through shortwave radio broadcast to the Japanese abductees who are still kept captive in North Korea.

Its content, updated weekly, includes information on concrete measures of the government to resolve the abduction issue, situation surrounding North Korea, messages from families and friends of the abductees, as well as familiar Japanese songs.

The program is broadcasted in Japanese (titled “Furusato no Kaze”) and Korean (titled “il bon ue baram(Nippon no Kaze)”) during the following hours and frequencies from Monday to Sunday.”

Information on the website says that the Government of Japan has identified 17 abductions stretching from 1977 to 1983 taking place either in Japan or Europe. Below is a map showing the location of the abductions.

abduction map

Further reading mentions North Korean secret agents being involved. This is stuff you only see in movies or read in novels!

An interesting thing I came across on the website was information about an anime called “Megumi”. It says it’s a documentary anime on the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. The name of the anime comes from a 13 year old Japanese girl named Megumi Yokota who was abducted on her way home from school by North Korean agents in 1977. The anime is 25 minutes long and describes the ordeal her family experienced. You can access the anime from the website in Japanese as well as other languages.

http://www.rachi.go.jp/en/shisei/keihatsu/anime.html

The website says the anime is free and can be copied and also that “In principle, no permission is required to link to this website. Reproduction of the contents of this website is permitted.

I feel their pain. If someone I loved was abducted and you never heard from them again that would be a terrible thing to go through. They are just trying to get the word out, but based on what I’ve seen and read about North Korea I wouldn’t have much hope that they will return the abductees (if they are even still alive).

It’s a Numbers Game…

If you listen to shortwave radio long enough you will probably stumble upon something unusual outside of the normal broadcast and amateur bands. The shortwave frequencies are broken up and allocated for specific uses. Shortwave broadcasters are allocated certain frequency ranges to stay within, as well as ham/amateur radio operators. Below is a list of the frequencies allocated for broadcasters.

120 metres 2300-2495 kHz
90 metres 3200-3400 kHz
75 metres 3900-4000 kHz
60 metres 4750-4995 kHz
49 metres 5900-6200 kHz
41 metres 7200-7450 kHz
31 metres 9400-9900 kHz
25 metres 11600-12100 kHz
22 metres 13570-13870 kHz
19 metres 15100-15800 kHz
16 metres 17480-17900 kHz
15 metres 18900-19020 kHz
13 metres 21450-21850 kHz
11 metres 25670-26100 kHz

Here is a list of the frequencies for the ham/amateur radio operators

180 metres 1800-2000 kHz
80 metres 3500-3800 kHz
60 metres 5250-5450 kHz
40 metres 7000-7200 kHz
30 metres 10100-10150 kHz
20 metres 14000-14350 kHz
17 metres 18068-18168 kHz
15 metres 21000-21450 kHz
12 metres 24890-24990 kHz
10 metres 28000-29700 kHz

These unusual signals you may happen upon are called “Numbers Stations‘ and may sound something like this.

Many articles have been written about these mysterious transmissions. Some theories thrown out are these are a type of code to communicate with spies in the field or used by drug smugglers. The most common broadcast I’ve heard is usually a Spanish female speaker repeating numbers in groups of 4 or five. Sometimes there may be tones heard in between the reading of the numbers.

If this fascinates you and peaks your curiosity, here are some links to peruse:

NPR audio segment titled “The Shortwave Numbers Mystery
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP5J9-D7_jw

Wikipedia article on Numbers Stations
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numbers_station

BBC article titled “The Spooky World of Numbers Stations
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24910397

I came across two broadcasts of a numbers station recently. Both were a Spanish speaking female repeating numbers in groups of five. They were on different frequencies and at different times, but sound like the same voice to me. The first is shown above and the 2nd below.

Some wierd and intriguing stuff! 👽

Quick Tour of the Shortwave Bands

Had a very fruitful night listening to my new shortwave radio. The reception conditions seemed a lot better than the previous evening. I put together a 2:03 min clip of some of the stations I heard. If you’ve never listened to shortwave radio it will give you an idea of what the stations sound like. These stations actually came in well. Some of the weaker ones are difficult to hear and it’s hard to understand what is being spoken.

  • Radio Rebelde, broadcasting from Havana, Cuba
  • Radio EWTN, Global Catholic Radio
  • Radio Havana Cuba
  • China Radio International
  • KVOH, Voice of Hope
  • WWV, Time station from Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Radio Slovakia

Some of the other stations I heard that are not on the clip:

  • Radio Romania
  • Radio Exterior de Espana
  • R. Sultanate Oman
  • Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran
  • R. Japan
  • Radio Frequencia al Dia
  • Deutsch Welle
  • BBC
  • Radio New Zealand
  • Radio Dabanga, I had never heard this station before, and it was coming in fairly clear. I believe it’s broadcasting from Darfur, Sudan using a 500 KW transmitter.  A new country and station to add to my totals! 😄

Here is a short audio recording of Radio Dabanga.  There is no mistake that was the station after listening to the audio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0hgyeGuzSQ

Back in the Shortwave Saddle!

I’ve posted several times about how I used to listen to shortwave radio quite a bit when I was younger.  It was a fun, enjoyable hobby and I learned a lot about geography and other countries/cultures.  I haven’t listened in several years after getting busy with other things in life.  I don’t know about you, but it seems there are cycles in my life where things change naturally depending on what is going on and how my interests change. I saw a nice shortwave radio at a local electronics store for what I think is a good price and picked one up.  It’s a Grundig Satellit 750 radio that picks up AM/FM, Shortwave and the Airwave bands.

Grundig Satellit 750

I got it home and couldn’t hear many stations until I hooked up an outside antenna.  It was like night and day in being able to tune in stations.  I think it may be due to the radiant barrier in the attic blocking the signals.  There are not as many stations broadcasting from what I remember in the “good old days” of the late 70s and 80s, but it was like riding a bike.  It felt like I never stopped! As usual, the religious broadcasters are well represented on the shortwave bands, as well as some of the stations I used to listen to. Some of the stations I managed to hear:

  • Adventist World Radio – Had an interesting shortwave type program called “Wavescan”
  • Voice of Turkey – Playing music
  • Radio Romania Int – Broadcasting in French.  Back in the 80s they used to be called “Radio Bucharest”
  • China Radio International – Coming in with a strong signal on their English & Chinese language broadcast
  • Radio Exterior de Espana – Broadcasting in Spanish
  • World Harvest Radio – Christian broadcaster from the US
  • Radio Habana Cuba – You can hear them on a number of frequencies broadcasting in English and Spanish
  • EWTN – Catholic radio broadcaster

There was a book that I used to use which was invaluable for looking up station broadcast times and frequencies called “Passport to Worldband Radio“.

Passport

Since I don’t have a recent edition, I was able to find an online shortwave website where you can look up this information.  Gotta love the internet!  Sadly, I found out later today that the book is no longer being published.

http://www.shortwaveschedule.com/index.php?freq=5830

Will see how things progress in the coming months.

Shortwave From Africa – A Walk Down Memory Lane

As I mentioned before, I love African music (as well as other types)  and shortwave radio was a way to listen to some of it.  The shortwave radio was like an “Armchair to the World“.  Sitting in the comfort of your home you could travel instantly to strange and exotic lands, and on top of that you could actually write to people there and they would reply back! The feeling is captured below in a picture from the first page of an article in the June 1978 edition of a magazine called Modern Electronics.

Shortwave Armchair

Because of low budgets many of the African stations weren’t the easiest to hear and their the transmitters weren’t that strong.  Many didn’t have an overseas service so you had to try to pickup the local broadcasts which made getting QSL verification cards more difficult.  However, once you did receive a reply and saw that treasured QSL card it was a great accomplishment.

Here is a QSL card from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.  I believe this was a local broadcast so I was very happy to get it!

Ghana-front

Here is a card from Transworld Radio Swaziland.  I believe they used relay transmitters from other stations so were a little easier to hear.

Swaziland-front

Here is a collage of magazines I received from Radio South Africa.  I wrote to them off and on and got on their mailing list and they would send me the magazines as well as program schedules.

RSA Magazines

This is bringing back very fond memories.  It’s a shame the shortwave listening hobby is not the same as it used to be, but I guess that’s the way it is with a lot things in the world. Things change and life goes on.