Although Article 53 of the constitution states that North Korean citizens have freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and demonstration, such activities are permitted only in support of government and KWP objectives. Other articles of the constitution require citizens to follow the socialist norms of life; for example, a collective spirit takes precedence over individual political or civil liberties.
Domestic media censorship is strictly enforced, and deviation from the official government line is not tolerated. The regime prohibits listening to foreign media broadcasts, and violators are reportedly subject to severe punishment. Senior party cadres, however, have good access to the foreign media. No external media are allowed free access to North Korea, but an agreement to share in Japan's telecommunications satellites was reached in September 1990.
Newspapers, broadcasting, and other mass media are major vehicles for information dissemination and political propaganda. Although most urban households have radios and some have television sets, neither radios nor televisions can be tuned to anything other than official programming. Only some 10 percent of the radios and 30 percent of the televisions are in private households. Government control extends to artistic and academic circles, and visitors report that the primary function of plays, movies, books, and the performing arts is to contribute to the cult of personality surrounding Kim Il Sung.
The media is government controlled. As of mid-1993, there were eleven television stations, approximately two dozen AM stations, ten FM stations, eight domestic shortwave stations, and a powerful international shortwave station. The latter broadcast in English, French, Spanish, German, and several Asian languages. Korean Central Broadcasting Station and P'yongyang Broadcasting Station (Radio P'yongyang) are the central radio stations; there are also several local stations and stations for overseas broadcasts.
A number of newspapers are published. Nodong simmun (Workers' Daily), the organ of the party Central Committee, claimed a circulation of approximately 1.5 million as of 1988. K lloja (The Worker), the theoretical organ of the party Central Committee, claimed a circulation of about 300,000 readers. Minju Chosn (Democratic Korea) is the government newspaper, and Nodong chngnyn (Working Youth) is the newspaper of the SWYL. There also are specialized newspapers for teachers, the army, and railway workers.
The Korean Central News Agency (Chosn Chungyang Tngsinsa-- KCNA) is the primary agency for gathering and disseminating news. KCNA publishes the daily paper Korean Central News (Chosn Chungyang T'ongsin), Photographic News (Sajin T'ongsin), and the Korean Central Yearbook (Chosn Chungyang Ynbo). KCNA issues daily press releases in English, Russian, French, and Spanish; newscasts in these languages are beamed overseas. The Foreign Languages Press Group issues the monthly magazine Korea Today and the weekly newspaper the P'yongyang Times published in English, Spanish, and French.
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