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U.S. Funds Radiocasts Aimed at North

Posted September. 28, 2006 03:26,   


The U.S. State Department has allocated $1 million (950 million won) to fund radio broadcasting business for North Korea led by three organizations for North Korean human rights in South Korea for the first year of business.

The U.S. government’s decision to support this huge amount in financial aid can be interpreted as a shift in its policy toward empowering the North Korean human rights advocate groups in South Korea that is seeking to induce calm change of North Korea’s residents.

A source in Washington yesterday said, “$1 million of U.S. State Department budget was approved by the Congress and recently offered to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the fund will be given to three organizations each in the fiscal year 2007, starting on October 1.”

The three groups are Open Radio for North Korea, Freedom North Korea Broadcast and another North Korean human rights advocacy group. The third group requested its real name not be released. The money was found to be a separate funding from the budget to increase the airtime for radio broadcasting toward North Korea passed by the U.S. Congress in 2004.

Another source noted, “Though Open Radio for North Korea received small amount of funding in the past, the increased funding this time around shows to some degree that the U.S. government and congress consider getting North Korean people to change their mentality as a genuine sunshine policy.”

The U.S. government allegedly plans to keep financing the radio business for fiscal year 2008 after reviewing the previous year business outcome.

The three groups funded by the U.S. are set apart from other broadcasting outlets for North Korea in that they are run by small group of people and seek to differentiate content.

These groups were assigned radio frequency from a third country as the South Korean government denied them license to air to North Korea.

The three organizations succeeded in getting funds after presenting on why they should be given financial aid to the U.S. government. It was reported that all the other groups in third world such as Cuba and Middle East worked to receive the U.S. State Department funding.

The North Korean Human Rights Act enacted in October 2004 stipulates that the U.S. assign an annual budget of $24 million for democratization of North Korea.

However, only $2 million was executed for the appointment of special envoy for the North’s human rights Jay Lefkowitz and third rounds of international conference on human rights over the two years.

In particular, the State Department favored prudent approaches toward the North Korean human rights issue for fear of provoking Pyongyang with its budget execution on North Korea since 2005 when the six-party talks aimed at resolving the North’s nuclear program went in full swing.

Therefore, the decision to execute the budget is an indicative of the U.S. conclusion that efforts to change North Korean residents’ mindset that will take long time can’t be delayed any longer.

A survey on 303 North Korean defectors found that 4.0 percent of those surveyed listened to Korean broadcasts through short wave radio. Assuming that 0.5 to 1 percent of the North’s population listens to Korean programs, this means that about 100,000 to 200,000 North Korean listen to Korean radio programs.