ARRL take on P5 pending operations

    Posted on the ARRL website we have re-published in full. Comments are open here.

    Persistent optimism continues to prop up the hopes of several individual radio amateurs and groups to mount a DXpedition to the most-wanted and elusive DXCC entity on the globe — the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (P5). To date, no recent efforts have succeeded. The latest to announce that plans for a P5 operation are on the verge of success are Antonio Gonzalez, EA5RM, and Manuel German, EA7AJR, both DXpedition veterans. On their fourth trip to North Korea since 2013, Gonzalez and German met on August 17 with what they described as “high-level officials” in North Korea’s telecommunications ministry. In an August 17 news release, Gonzalez and German said that the officials in Pyongyang — North Korea’s capital — “were very kind, receptive, and cooperative. They knew everything about ham radio, so it was really easy to talk with them about our ham radio operation project.” The pair began efforts to secure permission for a North Korea operation more than 2 years ago.

    “If everything goes as it is going up [until] today, I can tell that we are very close to get[ting] permission,” the news release concluded.

    Gonzalez and German are not alone in attempting to be the next to activate North Korea since Ed Giorgadze of the Republic of Georgia operated as P5/4L4FN in 2001 and 2002, making more than 16,000 contacts before being asked abruptly to cease transmitting and pack up his gear. The ARRL subsequently accredited his SSB and RTTY operation for DXCC. Giorgadze, who was working for the UN World Food Program in Pyongyang at the time, had tried for more than 2 years before obtaining oral permission from North Korean authorities to operate.

    Earlier this year, Polish radio amateur Dom Grzyb, 3Z9DX, announced that he had secured written permission to operate from North Korea in January or February 2016. He has said he is supposed to go to Pyongyang for a final meeting to discuss guidelines for the operation, which would be for 5 days, SSB only, on 20, 15, and 10 meters from a secured location with 24/7 government supervision.

    Paul Ewing, N6PSE, and David Flack, AH6HY, of the Intrepid DX Group have visited North Korea several times since announcing intentions in 2013 to operate from P5 for 2 weeks with two groups of 12 operators. In an August 10 blog post that he has since removed from the web “in solidarity with other efforts to activate P5,” Ewing seemed pessimistic that anyone would be allowed to operate from the secretive communist enclave anytime soon. For now, though, he’s extending “best of luck to all efforts to activate the DPRK.”

    In addition to the 2001-2002 P5/4L4FN operation, the only other approved operations occurred in 1995, when Martti Laine, OH2BH, and two other Finnish radio amateurs demonstrated ham radio by making 20 contacts as P5/OH2AM. In 1999, Laine operated briefly as P51BH, making just 263 contacts. In 2005, David Borenstein, KA2HTV, a physician, received advance permission from a cultural affairs official to operate while in Pyongyang, but he apparently did not have clearance from the Ministry of Telecommunications and Posts, and he was never allowed to get on the air once he arrived.

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