Korean Central News Agency

Korean Central News Agency
Chosŏn'gŭl 조선중앙통신
or 조선통신사
Hancha 朝鮮中央通信
or 朝鮮通信社
McCune–Reischauer Chosŏn Chungangt'ongsin
or Chosŏn T'ongsinsa
Revised Romanization Joseon Jungangtongsin
or Joseon Tongsinsa

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) is the state news agency of North Korea and has existed since December 5, 1946. KCNA is headquartered in the capital city of Pyongyang. In South Korea access to the KCNA website is blocked by the South Korean government.



As the sole news agency of the DPRK (also known as North Korea), KCNA daily reports news for all the North Korean news organizations including newspapers, radio and TV broadcasts via Korean Central Television within the country.[1] In December 1996, KCNA began publishing its news articles on the Internet with its web server located in Japan. Since October 2010, stories have been published on a new site, controlled from Pyongyang, and output has been significantly increased to include world stories with no specific link to North Korea[2] including news from countries that have strong DPRK ties.

In addition to Korean, KCNA releases news articles in English, Russian, and Spanish. Access to its website, along with other North Korean news sites, has been blocked in South Korea since 2004 and can be accessed only through the government's authorization.[3][4] As well as serving as a news agency, it is also alleged to conduct clandestine intelligence collection.[5]

KCNA has press exchange agreements with around 46 foreign news agencies including Itar-Tass and Xinhua News Agency[1] and South Korea's Yonhap News Agency[6] with correspondents and bureaux in six countries, including Russia and the People's Republic of China.[7] In 2004, the agency had employed 2,000 people.[8]

According to its website, KCNA "speaks for the Workers' Party of Korea and the DPRK government". The agency has been described as the "official organ."[9] In June 1964 on one of his first official activities, Kim Jong-il visited KCNA headquarters and said the agency should "propogate the revolutionary ideology of the Leader (Kim Il-sung) widely throughout the world."[10] However, the agency is also said to offer a unique insight into the North Korean "mentality."[11][12]

A talk given to officials at KCNA on June 12, 1964, outlines the function of the news agency:

In order to become a powerful ideological weapon of our Party, the Korean Central News Agency must provide a news service in accordance with the idea and intention of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung, establish Juche firmly in its work and fully embody the Party spirit, the working-class spirit and the spirit of serving the people. It must pay serious attention to each word, to each dot of the writings it releases because they express the standpoint of our Party and the Government of our Republic.

The speech stresses the importance of the leader reading the news reports, and care should be taken when writing them. It states that modernizing media technology is important to develop a better service, and that the agency is "renowned throughout the world".[13]

Under the principle and guideline on the work of ideological propaganda and agitation put by the country's ruling party, the Workers' Party of Korea, the agency generally reports only good news about the country that is intended to encourage its people and project a positive image abroad.[14] Nonetheless, it has on occasion acknowledged food shortages in the country.[15][16] The Ryongchon disaster was also reported in April 2004, after a delay of two days.[17][18]

Recurring themes

KCNA articles generally revolve on several specific themes (examples in reference section):

  • Detailing performances of cultural events, usually attended by various dignitaries.
  • Decrying the actions and attitudes of the United States,[19] Japan,[20] South Korea[21] and other nations, particularly as regards military cooperation, historical events or trade among those nations. Personal attacks on American, Japanese and South Korean leaders are not unknown.
  • Noting the celebration of DPRK events and ideas in other countries.[24]
  • Calling for the reunification of Korea under the Juche idea.[25][26]
  • Communications, visits, and gifts (it does not name the particular gift) to and from various like-minded or friendly nations.[32][33][34] Regarding the number of gifts, KCNA claimed that former leader Kim Il-sung receives "2,910 a year, 243 a month, and 8 a day."[35]
  • Emphasizing the names of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il by enlarging their names on the text.
  • References to institutes, groups or centers "for the study of the juche idea". For example, a KCNA report from June 12, 2011 claimed that "The Brazilian Center for the Study of the Juche Idea was inaugurated with due ceremony at Sao Paulo University on June 4".[39] The article also refers to an unnamed "chairman" (who presumably presided over the ceremony), but this supposed event was not reported by a source other than KCNA as of the date of the article (eight days after the ceremony was alleged to have occurred).

Editorial practices

Editorial practices reflect a recurrent theme of denying the legitimacy of any Korean rule except by Pyongyang:

  • South Korea (ROK) is always referred to as "South Joseon (Korea)", as one would describe a place, not a nation. The articles often describe North Korea in the same fashion, referring to it as "North Joseon (Korea)", implying that the two countries will be reunited in the future. In the English service, the ROK is referred to as "south Korea" (with a lowercase "s").
  • The ROK leadership are referred to in quotation marks, as in "government" "ministry" and "authorities", and often preceded by the term "puppet", to imply illegitimacy. The government of the ROK is also sometimes referred to by the name of the President, e.g. "the Lee Myung-bak group", implying that the ROK leadership are a "clique" rather than a majority government.
  • Any laws or regulations enacted in the ROK are referenced in quotations, as in "National Security Law".

New Year editorials

As a tradition, KCNA, along with the three main state run newspapers in North Korea, publishes a joint New Year editorial that outlines the country's policies for the year. The editorials usually offer praise for the Songun policy, the government and leadership, and encourage the growth of the nation. They are also critical of the policies of South Korea, Japan, the United States and Western governments towards the country.[40][41] On January 1, 2006 the agency sent out a joint-editorial from North Korea's state newspapers calling for the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea.[42] While annual January 1 editorials are a tradition among the papers, that year's brought attention from Western media outlets, by calling for a "nationwide campaign for driving out the U.S. troops".[43] The editorial made several references to Korean reunification. The 2009 editorial received similar attention, as criticism of United States policy was absent, and the admission of severe economic problems in the country. The editorial also made reference to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula, in what analysts claimed was a "hopeful" sign.[44][45] This was echoed again in its 2010 editorial, which called for an end to hostilities with the United States and a nuclear free Korean Peninsula.[46]

The 2011 joint editorial edition, aside from its calls for a denuclearized Korea and for a slowdown of tensions between the two Koreas, has for the first time, mentioned the rising light industries of the DPRK, given as a reason for a upcoming upsurge in the national economy in the new year and for the achievement of the Kangsong Taeguk national mission.

See also


  1. ^ a b Pares, S. (2005). A Political and Economic Dictionary of East Asia: An essential Guide To The Politics and Economics of East Asia. Routledge. ISBN 978-1857432589.
  2. ^ "KCNA significantly increasing output". North Korea Tech. 4 March 2011. http://www.northkoreatech.org/2011/03/04/kcna-significantly-increasing-output/. 
  3. ^ North Korea claims South's website restrictions deny human rights. Internet Business News. January 26, 2007.
  4. ^ North Korea Newsletter No. 56 (May 28, 2009). Yonhap. May 28, 2009.
  5. ^ Henderson, Robert (2003). Brassey's International Intelligence Yearbook: 2003 Edition. Brassey's. p. 292. ISBN 978-1574885507.
  6. ^ About Us, Yonhap.
  7. ^ a b Koreascope Mass Media
  8. ^ Attacks on the Press - 2003. Committee to Protect Journalists. March 11, 2004.
  9. ^ Quick, A. C. (2003). World Press Encyclopedia: A Survey of Press Systems Worldwide. (2nd eds.) Gale. ISBN 978-0787655846.
  10. ^ Lee, H. (2001). North Korea: A Strange Socialist Fortress. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 67. ISBN 978-0275969172 (Link to page [1])
  11. ^ Bennett, G. & Dresner, D. (1999). Directory of Web Sites. Taylor & Francis. pp.580. ISBN 978-1579581794.
  12. ^ North Korea Hunger. Reuters. July 10, 2008.
  13. ^ a b A Talk to the Officials of the Korean Central News Agency June 12, 1964. KFA.
  14. ^ Daily News about North Korea. The Chosun Ilbo. July 15, 2005.
  15. ^ Shortages of food in the DPRK. KCNA. September 25, 2000.
  16. ^ Is North Korea facing famine?, BBC News, June 25, 2008.
  17. ^ Reeling, hungry, N Korea heads to nuke talks. Asia Times Online. May 7, 2004.
  18. ^ KCNA Report on Explosion at Ryongchon Railway Station, KCNA, April 24, 2004.
  19. ^ U.S. Scenario for Preemptive Nuclear Attack on DPRK Blasted, KCNA, December 11, 2005.
  20. ^ KCNA Blasts Fukuda Regime's Suppression of Chongryon, KCNA, March 18, 2008.
  21. ^ KCNA Blasts Lee Myung Bak Group's Anachronistic Confrontational Policy, KCNA, January 8, 2009.
  22. ^ Chongryon on preserving national character, KCNA, May 21, 2002.
  23. ^ Japanese Reactionaries' Moves to Cover up "Comfort Women" Issue under Fire, KCNA, November 6, 2006.
  24. ^ http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm
  25. ^ All Koreans Urged to Remain True to Idea of "By Our Nation Itself", KCNA, January 9, 2009.
  26. ^ a b DPRK's Important Days Marked in Foreign Countries, KCNA, March 18, 2008.
  27. ^ Reporters without Borders 2005 report
  28. ^ Meagre media for North Koreans. BBC News. October 10, 2006.
  29. ^ Kim Jong Il Inspects KPA Unit, KCNA, August 2, 2007.
  30. ^ Kim Jong Il's Leadership Praised in Peru and India, KCNA, June 30, 2005.
  31. ^ Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Lauded, KCNA, January 8, 2009.
  32. ^ Floral Basket and Congratulatory Letter to Kim Jong Il from Cambodia, KCNA, January 9, 2009.
  33. ^ Reception for FM of Myanmar and His Party, KCNA, October 29, 2008.
  34. ^ Chinese Art Troupe Gives Performances, KCNA, October 29, 2008.
  35. ^ Many gifts to Kim Il Sung, KCNA, April 8, 2003.
  36. ^ "Agent for Preserving Kimjongilia Developed", KCNA, October 21, 2008.
  37. ^ New Kind of Pesticide Developed, KCNA, July 3, 2006.
  38. ^ Blood-Purifying Finger Ring, KCNA, May 18, 2005.
  39. ^ Brazilian Center for Study of Juche Idea Formed, KCNA, June 12th 2011.
  40. ^ North Korea issues New Year denuclearization pledge. Reuters. December 31, 2008.
  41. ^ N. Korea Vows to Rebuild Economy in New Year Message, The Korea Times, January 1, 2009.
  42. ^ "Joint New Year Editorial Issued", KCNA, January 1, 2006.
  43. ^ "North Korea Demands U.S. Troop Withdrawal". .Fox News. December 31, 2005.
  44. ^ 2009 Joint New Year Editorial Issued, KCNA, January 1, 2009.
  45. ^ North Korea message is mild on US. BBC News. January 1, 2009.
  46. ^ Kim, Sam (January 1, 2010). N. Korea calls for end to enmity with U.S., hints at return to nuclear talks. Yonhap.

External links

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