Must hear: Kurt Achin’s podcast from Hack North Korea

I think Thor Halvorssen is my new idol.

Most people believe that the North Korean government — and emphasis on government — is an issue that should be addressed by governments, or by a collection of governments. Well, we believe in helping people. We believe in peer-to-peer networks.

We are not interested in, you know, running to the U.N., which has been oh-so-extraordinary at stopping genocides from occurring — that’s dripping in sarcasm. We don’t believe the United Nations is going to be the place that’s going to bring about change. Neither do we believe that the U.S. State Department, by sending billions of dollars in cash to buy, you know, more Johnny Walker Blue or to hire more Swedish hookers is going to make Kim Jong Un change.

You’re dealing with a psychopath, and a family of psychopaths. They only respond to punishment. Psychopaths do not respond to incentives; they respond to disincentives. And the North Korean government, ultimately, is going to have to be overthrown by its own people, or by a collection of folks in the military.

No occupation army is going to succeed there. No war is going to be able to do this in a way that is more efficient, less problematic for the country in the long term, than an internal situation. And that internal situation will only come — a true revolution for liberty — will only come with information, and when people are inspired to do so. And we will, of course, do as much as our resources permits to hack North Korea and assist people inside North Korea who wish to be free.

How refreshingly relevant this is to the actual advancement of human rights, after years of watching the stuffy, politicized impotence of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. (It should not escape your notice that neither group has done anything of significance to support a credible response to the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report. Maybe they’ve been too focused on shilling for Hamas, or hosting Kim Il Sung propaganda exhibitions.)

If you have some money to give, consider a donation to HRF.


  1. The tiny RTL2832 software defined radio dongles are the most practical solution as they can easily be modified to receive shortwave. its not rocket science, we know exactly how to do it and how well it works. Ive now done several of these mods. It works best for HF with two filters, a low pss filter at 30 MHz, amd a AM broadcast band filter (to filter AM out)- a high pas filter at around 2 MHz. Then you can listen from 2-around 30 MHz, which is a wide range of spectrum. the filters can be made very small and fit inside of the case. The tiny SDRs work really well as part of a magnetic loop,.Google that term. “magnetic loop”

    The german site where the drivers are developed is

    To get one, I would highly recommend the mid sized, white one with the IEC connector It has a u shaped eliptical row of holes.. cant miss it.

    The IEC connector is much more durable than the ones with the tiny mcx connector that many people seem to have. Its also more stable. Less drift. With a GPS antenna they can be used as a GPS on linux.

    Where to buy: you can buy them on any of the online sales site by just typing in rtl2832 + r820t I like the mid sized white one with the IEC connector.(its more durable if it gets frequent use and mine does)

    They can cost under $7 each. You can pair them with an upconverter or use “direct sampling” which requires connecting the antenna to some cpacitors on the RTL2832 chip and adding a small toroid transformer and a low pass filter. Thats around a 15 minute modification and then you have a working HF radio that can listen to all the shortwave bands and can even download digital radio mondiale (DRM) or weather fax. Somebody might be able to use one of the dongles along with a Raspberry Pi credit card sized computer to make a digital mode transceiver. All the pieces are there.

    You can watch a bunch of videos at

    You’ll get 181,000 results, up from around 6,000 three months ago so you can find everything you might want to do. shown to you in video.

    its a global phenomenon. As far as two way transmission I think it could be done using Jt65 or WSPR and a Raspberry Pi to send text messages You would need a piece of wire and a ground for your antennaa. See for real time contact info, You can check out and sm5bszcom for Linrad for OSX- Linux or windows or also for windows – they are all SDR software.. Quite nice. There is also a reddit forum for questions. http://www/

    There also is a blog in Japan worth looking at I would not look a gift radio in the face. They have been the most versatile gadget ever. People do radio astronomy with them now. Seriously. Please don’t blow the oppotunity to push the envelope and reduce their isolation with the smallest, most tunable radios known..

    With two of them at the same time, yu can watch blurry analog TV (one for picture, one for sound) That’s it. Ask questions. Ill check back and answer.


  2. I’m sorry about the spelling errors, I thought I had proofread the post. It was very late and I was very sleepy. So, hopefully don’t hold it against me. But seriously, there is nowhere else where you can find a radio that is so small which can do so much for so little money. These most tunable of all radios are the size of a thumb drive or in some cases, barely larger than the USB plug itself. So small that one could hide it very, very easily.

    The big disadvantage of course is that being “software defined” radios, a new kind of radio, completely, they require a computer and SDR software to work.

    But, as far as I know, computers are more and more common, and still legal in NK. Even a tablet will work although the only tablet-ready software Ive seen myself is commercial software “SDR Touch” (I am pretty sure there are others).

    The way to use them would be to use a bootable USB thumb drive with Linux and SDR software. Then the bootable drive leaves no software on the PC. Such a bootable OS is easy to make using Debian or Ubuntu.

    The essential pieces needed are the rtlsdr library, librtlsdr, gr-osmosdr, gnuradio 3.7x, and gqrx.

    People always exclaim that the SDR radio listening experience, especially of shortwave/HF is very rich compared to regular radio. Because its visual as well as auditory. Its can potentially be quite good for HF listening. A free program called RFSim99 can be used to design the filters. Or, there are online calculators.

    Its worth exploring. I think that it would be smart to utilize the resource while its here. The discovery of this undocumented SDR mode was a chance occurrance and it probably won’t happen again in anything even remotely resembling the same affordable way.

    Because using a system on a chip and huge mass production makes things a LOT cheaper, as well as a lot smaller, comparable “purpose built” SDR products all cost well over $100 and are much, much larger. Something to think about.


  3. @ultimately, is going to have to be overthrown by its own people, or by a collection of folks in the military.

    I agree with this, but no one seems to want to step up. Kim Jong Un has such a tight grip of his military that someone would need to be influential enough to get the support on their side and take action against him. This would likely end in civil war though.

    As I could easily see soldiers questioning their loyalty to the current regime if someone were to make tangible gains against Kim Jong-un. People naturally will get behind a cause worth fighting for, and something they believe they can achieve.

    That said, I would be worried about the people in the gulags, what would a crazed dictator do to these poor people if he’s about to lose grip of power? Some of the stories that come out of North Korea suggest he’s capable of anything. I would hope a third party would intervene and secure and help the people in them, and possible offer them aid and treatment as needed.