The Independent reports that the BBC World Service could for the first time begin broadcasting programs aimed at residents of North Korea.
Barack Obama’s administration is encouraging the British Foreign Office to back plans to establish a BBC Korean service to help open up the most secret country on earth. They believe the BBC’s reputation for impartiality could help build up trust with communist state’s 24 million population.
Peter Horrocks, the head of the BBC World Service, will discuss the matter in Westminster with MPs from the All Party Group on North Korea early in the new year. Lord Alton, who leads the group, which has also met with the Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire, said Washington-based officials had recently been in London to support the idea of a BBC service. The talks come amid signs that North Korean citizens are increasingly ignoring a ban that forbids them from accessing foreign media.
The US government-run networks Voice of America and Radio Free Asia already broadcast into North Korea. Based on interviews with some of the 25,000 North Korean defectors suggests that 14 per cent had listened to Radio Free Asia, 11.6 per cent to Voice of America and six per cent to South Korean radio.
Although the World Service transmits to 188 million in 27 countries it has never broadcast a Korean service. This is partly because North Korea arrests citizens discovered listening to foreign media and sends them to camps where more than 150,000 political prisoners are believed to be held.