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Immediately Establish a BBC Korea Service

In North Korea, it is illegal to own foreign media. However, the North Korean people have shown an unending desire for access to foreign movies, TV shows and radio broadcasts. Owing to the restrictions on non-state-sanctioned media and the dire human rights situation in North Korea, all means of supporting the free flow of information into and out of the country should be a priority for the international community.

One critically important way to amp up the flow of information would be for the BBC World Service to establish a Korea service. Known around the world for its non-partisan and impartial reporting, the BBC World Service could be a valuable link between the world and the people of North Korea.

Under the remit of the BBC Trust, one of the explicit purposes of the World Service is to “Enable individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues”. The World Service also endeavours to serve “information-poor language markets with a clear need for independent information”. As North Korea's press is entirely state-controlled, the value of a Korean-language BBC World Service to the North Korean people is obvious.

In a letter to the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Right Hon William Hague MP summarised the reasons given by the BBC as to why they would not move forward with establishing a Korean language service. They are:

1. a shortwave radio service would reach an insignificant percentage of the population due to a combination of low numbers of SW-capable radios, ignorance of different wavebands and DPRK signal jamming.

2. South Korean regulations currently prevent foreign broadcasters from broadcasting FM or MW radio from South Korea.

3. It would be impossible to offer a TV service that would not be blocked by the government.

4. Mobile or internet services would achieve very low or insignificant impact given access is strictly limited to political elites and both North Korea networsk are effectively cut off from the rest of the world.

The problems with these reasons are obvious. Given the ongoing human rights abuses in North Korea and possible commercial opportunities in South Korea, we urge the BBC and the British government to reconsider their position and establish a Korean-language World Service.

For a better understanding of the case for a BBC World Service in the Korean language, please download our report: www.eahrnk.org/reports

This petition was delivered to:
  • Peter Horrocks
  • Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP
  • Diane Coyle
  • Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP
  • Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
  • BBC


European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea started this petition with a single signature, and now has 911 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.