04 September 2009

mail from south korea's kbs

On August 9, 2009, I sent a brief email to KBS World Radio in South Korea to tell them that I have been missing their shortwave broadcasts. I meant it both ways: their broadcast times weren't convenient for me, and I regretted not hearing the broadcasts. About two weeks after I sent the email, I got a large envelope (about 6" x 12") from KBS, containing a reception report form, eight identical station stickers, and a "Spring 2009" pamphlet. They used my postal address from my previous correspondence to them, as I didn't include a postal address with my recent email.

The reception report form is interesting because of the list of occupations that are provided. At the top of the form where the listener describes himself or herself, the listed occupations are: student, company employee, civil servant, teacher, engineer, sailor, self-employed, medicine, journalist, artist, legal practitioner, farmer, freelancer, housekeeper, unemployed, and not applicable. It's interesting to think about how KBS imagines their current English listener audience.

The pamphlet is about 20 pages long, in color, with pages for many different languages. Inside the front cover is the current broadcasting schedule, along with a note that "some broadcasting frequencies are expected to change at the end of October, 2009" when the B schedule period begins. I only see nine "E" squares (for English broadcasts) on the whole daily schedule, and the only one labeled "NAM" (for North America) is between 1200 and 1300 UTC, from the Sackville transmitter site. Yep, that starts at 8am on the east coast, and 5am on the west coast.

Quoting from the pamphlet, here's the station history:
KBS World Radio, the overseas service of the Korean Broadcasting System, is Korea's window to the world. Alas, they didn't give me any indication that they'd add English broadcasts to North America in my preferred 0000 - 0700 UTC timeframe.

KBS World Radio's maiden transmission was a 15-minute English broadcast on August 15, 1953 under the station name, "the Voice of Free Korea." It was renamed as "Radio Korea" in 1973, and again as "Radio Korea International" in August 1994 to better reflect its increasingly global mission. The station adopted its current name, "KBS World Radio" on March 3, 2005.

KBS World Radio now broadcasts in 11 languages: Korean, English, Japanese, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Indonesian, Arabic, German, and Vietnamese. It provides a total of 48 hours and 4 minutes of daily programming on 22 shortwave and one medium-wave frequencies, bringing up-to-date information on Korea to the world.

KBS World Radio's primary mission is to promote friendly relations and understanding with the peoples of the world. It brings listeners fast and accurate coverage of news taking place in and around Korea as well as a wealth of information about Korean culture, society, and politics.

In addition to shortwave broadcasting, KBS World Radio aims to diversify its global reach through satellite radio, DRM transmission, local FM and AM relays, and the Internet in preparation for the full-fledged digital broadcasting era.
While KBS is clearly looking ahead to newer broadcasting technologies, they're still happy to reach out to the fans of their analog shortwave service. Alas, they didn't give any indication that they'd resume an English broadcast to North America during my preferred 0000 - 0700 UTC timeframe.

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