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N. Korean TV shifts to live broadcasts under new leader

All Headlines 11:51 April 20, 2012

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's traditionally secretive state television is increasingly broadcasting live under new leader Kim Jong-un, in a rare break from efforts to inherit the traits and policies of previous rulers in the dynastic regime.

In the four months following the Dec. 17 death of Kim's father and strongman Kim Jong-il, the (North) Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station has aired many of the nation's key events live, including all the awkward moments the late Kim apparently tried to avoid, according to Yonhap News Agency's monitoring of the footage.

Ceremonies and celebrations marking the Feb. 16 birthday of the late leader and the April 15 landmark birth centenary of his father, founding leader Kim Il-sung, were just some of the national events aired live on television.

The shift came alongside drastic changes in the appearance of TV news programs, which recently started to use a brighter background color and plenty of captions and graphics. Analysts said the young Kim Jong-un, thought to be in his late 20s, was believed to have a personal interest in the visual arts.

Live broadcasts were virtually nonexistent under the late Kim Jong-il, with all of his activities being reported at least hours after they took place.

"Due to Kim Jong-il's security, all of his inspection trips were reported in recorded broadcasts," said Jang Hae-seong, a North Korean defector who worked as a writer at the TV station. "Kim Jong-il generally prohibited live broadcasts because of the risk of technical and other glitches."

Even during his time as heir, the late Kim took a great interest in television and made sure to rebuke broadcasting officials over technical failures or programming issues, regardless of the hour, Jang said.

The communist nation's apparent lack of broadcasting technology recently led to a series of awkward moments, with a concert on Tuesday opening half an hour after the cameras started rolling. The concert marked the unveiling of a new theater, which coincided with celebrations of Kim Il-sung's birth centenary.

The live broadcast was apparently waiting for Kim Jong-un's arrival, but he was nowhere to be seen.

hague@yna.co.kr
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