FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Anderson, WW5L, WW5L@...http://www.dxer.org/lsdxa
Apparent internal miscommunications within
the North Korean government's Committee for Cultural Relations with
Foreign Countries and the Ministry of Telecommunications and Posts over
the approval of an operating permit to Dr. David Borenstein, KA2HTV, led
the government to halt his recent P5 DXpedition before it could even
begin, the New York physician said today.
However, the main purpose of his trip to
North Korea was not amateur radio, but the donation of several thousand
dollars worth of medical supplies from various Western countries to the
Korean Medical Association. I went to make sure these medical supplies got
where they were supposed to,. he said. Dr. Borenstein specializes in
physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Another situation that may have also played
a part in the halting of Dr. Borenstein.s DXpedition operations was the
death of his government assigned guide, one of the leading such guides in
the country. The guide drowned at Wonsan, while he and other government
assigned guides were escorting KA2HTV and others to the North Korean
Dr. Borenstein's DXpedition costs were
underwritten by the Lone Star DX Association (http://www.dxer.org/lsdxa)
and equipment donated by many companies and individuals. Before he left
the United States, Dr. Borenstein and the LSDXA were told his DXpedition
operation should be fully accredited by the ARRL once he returned and
submitted passport, visa, and photographic documentation showing he was in
North Korea. This is standard procedure for DXCC DXpedition accreditation.
The Lone Star DX Association is committed to the support of DX. We knew
this would be a gamble, but thought the risk was worth it to try getting
P5 back on the air. Hopefully our efforts and those of Dr. Borenstein has
moved the ball forward in restoring amateur radio in North Korea, said
LSDXA President Mike Thomas, NA5U.
The miscommunications developed when a
Democratic People.s Republic of Korea Cultural Relations official issued
the operating permit, while the government's Telecommunications and Posts
officials, had not formally processed KA2HTV's request for a permit to
operate. Both agencies are part of the North Korean government.
Dr. Borenstein was planning on beginning
his full time P5 operations on August 20, when DPRK officials suddenly
called him into a meeting. They told me the person who gave the authority
in the committee should not have given it because of a mix up with the
Ministry of Telecommunications and Posts, he said. Up until then I had no
idea that I would not be allowed to operate. as government officials had
given no hint that the operating authority issued previously was not
valid. I was able to demonstrate amateur radio to these same government
officials and showed them how it would benefit the country.
But the inability to operate was
devastating, he said. After meeting with the government officials I just
went back to my room for a while and watched the BBC, the only English
language television program we could receive. I knew there were hundreds
of stations around the world waiting to make a P5 contact and I could not
get on the air.
The Lone Star DX Association and I had
planned this DXpedition for many months and many donors had given
equipment and their time and effort to make this operation occur, he said.
Both KA2HTV and the LSDXA would like to
thank the following sponsors for their donation of equipment: Tennadyne
log periodic antennas, Yaesu and Vertex Standard radios, ACOM
International amplifiers, Texas Towers, W4MPY, The QSL Man, GigaParts,
Buddipole, Hex Beam, High Sierra, Press Jones, The Wireman, Heil Sound,
North Alabama DX Club, Southeastern DX Club, LDG Electronics, DX
Engineering, Ham Radio Outlet, and W4HT Electronics. In addition, the
following individual hams provided logistical and other support: WW5L,
WY5H, K4UEE, K9LA, KC2MWA, K7JA, W4WB, W4RT, W5QM, W9GJ, W2RC, QSL manager
KK5DO, and the many members of the Lone Star DX Association.
Dr. Borenstein said these government
officials confided to him they were hopeful a license for him to operate
could be obtained in the near future, however no definite date was given.
They told me they would welcome me back, despite the fact it is very
difficult for Americans to get a visa there. Also, he added, there is no
prohibition by the U.S. government against Americans visiting North Korea.
After the death of his guide, he said, many
government leaders went into official mourning. I couldn't ask them about
radio matters as these people were in mourning, so that delayed everything
another two or three days.
When he arrived Aug. 9 all of the radio
equipment was processed through North Korean customs without problem and
it all went smoothly. Later the Telecommunications and Posts ministry
officials asked to inspect some of his equipment, which included an Icom
735 and 706 MK2G, and a Yaesu 857, plus an Acom amplifier. They kept part
of it for a week, he said, before ministry officials told him he would not
be allowed to operate.
When first planning the DXpedition, Dr.
Borenstein said, negotiations had centered on the donation of amateur
radio equipment to the DPRK asa measure of friendship. When the DPRK
government took the equipment for inspection, they apparently thought this
was the same equipment that was to be donated. The donated. equipment
taken for inspection includes KA2HTV's own personal Icom 735 transciever,
a Hexbeam antenna, a High Sierra tripod, coax, a Yaesu rotator, and a dual
voltage power supply. The equipment was not seized, they knew I had other
equipment, they could have taken everything, but they didn't, he said,
adding, seventy percent of the equipment I took over there came back home.
A receipt thanking Dr. Borenstein for the
donated equipment was issued by the DPRK's Committee for Cultural
Relations with Foreign Countries.
KA2HTV does not consider this a failure,
but rather a chance to open doors to North Korea for possible future
amateur radio operations. Although I didn't get a chance to operate from
P5, I believe the equipment donations and my visit planted the seeds for
amateur radio operations in the future, he said. Some people may see this
as a failure, but if you don't try, you'll never fail.
KA2HTV received his first amateur license
in 1980 and earned his extra class license in 1984.
Dr. Borenstein has guest operated from the
following club stations or as an individual from: SP5PBE in Poland,
4X/KA2HTV in Israel, JY6ZZ in Jordan, CO2KK in Cuba, and 9G5DR from Ghana.
This trip to North Korea was not his first.
He was in the DPRK in July 2004 for similar medical related reasons.