North Korea YouTube spy channel deemed fake

The Pyongyang Broadcast Network channel on YouTube looks like it might be an official organ of the DPRK, with its stern propaganda videos and comically oldfangled portraits of the Kim family. And now it's running numbers videos—inscrutable recitations of numbers and words similar to the cold-war radio broadcasts of legend. Here's a report in Yonhap, a news agency funded by the South Korean government.

North Korea on Saturday broadcast a series of mysterious numbers, presumed to be an encrypted message to its spies in the South, for the first time on YouTube.

A video clip was posted on the state-run Radio Pyongyang's YouTube account, in which a female announcer read what she described as "an information technology review assignment of the remote education university for No. 719 expedition agents."

Sadly, it's not likely to be the real deal . NK News reports that the channel is operated out of Mexico. Martyn Williams:

Martyn Williams, founder and owner of the North Korea Tech website who has previously written about the phenomena of so-called numbers stations, said that the media reports about the now-deleted video were false.

"The channel isn't run by North Korea," he said. "It's run from Mexico and was only recently renamed to Pyongyang Broadcast Station– which is incorrect anyway, the [official] radio station is called Pyongyang Broadcasting Station."

Korea Times identifies the YouTube channel as the work of a right-wing group: propaganda that simulates propaganda.

Since the 1980s, North Korea has broadcasted formatted numbers via state-run Pyongyang Broadcasting Station to provide intelligence to spies across the border. Although Pyongyang's numbers broadcasting officially halted after the inter-Korean summit in 2000, there have been suspicions that it revived the system in 2016.

However, Saturday's video turned out to be a parody uploaded by a South Korean conservative students' group on its own YouTube channel in July 2019, ending speculation that it was an encrypted message from the North. But why "Pyongyang Broadcast Service" posted the clip remains a mystery.