North Korea Switches to Russian Satellite for TV Broadcasts

The change makes it difficult for South Korea to monitor TV output, the news agency reported

North Korean authorities have switched the transmission of their state TV broadcasts from a Chinese satellite to a Russian one, Reuters reported on Monday, citing South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

Signals from North Korean Central Television have been carried by a Russian satellite, Express 103, since June 29, according to a South Korean satellite dish service provider, as cited by the news agency. The North had previously been using the ChinaSat 12 satellite to transfer signals.

This move has made it more challenging for South Korean media and state agencies to monitor the broadcasts, Reuters noted. It explained that the country’s authorized entities need access to a satellite service to watch the North’s broadcasts, while the general public is barred from accessing media from the neighboring state.

Watching North Korean TV online is still possible, Reuters said, but added that this can be delayed or of low quality.

“North Korea stopped using an existing Chinese satellite and began transmitting broadcasts through a Russian satellite, and reception of satellite broadcasts is being restricted in some areas on our side,” a Unification Ministry official told Reuters, noting that the ministry was seeking to address the technical challenge.

According to the report, monitoring North Korean state media is common practice for Seoul, as it seeks information about the reclusive country with which it remains at loggerheads following decades of isolation and confrontation. 

Reuters itself said it had been unable to receive North Korean TV signals since Monday morning.

The reported satellite shift comes a couple of weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Pyongyang to meet with his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un. During the visit, the two heads of states signed a Treaty on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which is designed to “lay the groundwork” for future bilateral relations in all spheres, including cultural and tourist ties, trade, economic relations, and security.