South Koreans get rare glimpse of North Korean TV
Wednesday 14 Dec 2011
Former North Korean soldier Lim Young-sun runs a website offering a rare glimpse of state television in the North.
Mr Lim’s Unification Broadcasting (SPTV) streams Korean Central Television, a risky business in Seoul, given South Korea’s tough National Security Law.
While the site (sptv.co.kr), the only one of its kind in the South, so far has an audience just in the tens of thousands, Mr Lim has a dream of attracting millions of viewers curious about life on the other side of the last Cold War frontier.
“I started live streaming three years ago mainly to let people here witness what North Korea is really like,” Mr Lim, 47, said.
North Korean television is relayed by satellite to most of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. But its terrestrial signal south of the tense border is jammed by Seoul.
While some South Koreans have been arrested for posting North Korean news, SPTV appears to be tolerated, though under close surveillance by the security authorities.
South Korean government officials admit the authorities appear to be tolerating Mr Lim’s business.
SPTV streams North Korean television for seven hours a day from 0800 GMT and edited footage is also posted online the next day.
Daily viewership of SPTV’s live streaming service and other content on its website can reach up to 15,000, sometimes jamming its relatively small-capacity server, Mr Lim said.
Mr Lim relies on small monthly donations of between 1,000 and 10,000 won (90 cents to US$9) from a few hundred supporters.