[Ed, P5/4L4FN, at his now-dismantled operating position in Pyongyang, North Korea.]
NEWINGTON, CT, Dec 15, 2002–The only Amateur Radio station active from North Korea has been ordered off the air. Ed Giorgadze, 4L4FN, had been operating for the past year as P5/4L4FN from Pyongyang. The ARRL subsequently accredited SSB and RTTY operation of P5/4L4FN for DXCC.
“This really hits the ham community hard,” QSL manager Bruce Paige, KK5DO, said in a news release. “I, for one, was looking forward to a satellite contact on AO-40. I know that many of you were still awaiting your first QSO.”…
Paige said that on Friday, November 22, Giorgadze was called into a meeting with the “Radio Regulation Board” without any explanation, and he was politely asked to quit all transmissions and pack all his radio equipment. “Saturday, he spent all day on the roof disassembling his antennas and packing boxes.”
Calling the situation “unfortunate” and “the worst possible thing,” Paige said North Korean government officials later came by and sealed all of the boxes. When Giorgadze leaves North Korea on December 10 for two weeks of vacation, “he is to take everything with him out of the country,” Paige indicated.
[Ed, P5/4L4FN, sits in front of his roof-mounted antenna system in Pyongyang, North Korea. At the left is a Butternut multiband vertical. At the right is the new Hex Beam. [Photos courtesy Bruce Paige, KK5DO]
Prior to getting on the air, Giorgadze had tried for more than two years to obtain permission to operate Amateur Radio in North Korea and finally was given the okay in 2001 to bring an ICOM IC-706MkIIG into the country. In the intervening months, he’s been slowly upgrading his antenna system. He’s made more than 16,000 contacts during his stint in North Korea, and earlier this year attained the first DXCC ever from that country.
“Ed will keep all the equipment for his next duty station, which will be another really good spot,” Paige assured. He said any funds he receives from now on in support of the North Korea operation will be donated toward the emergency air ambulance trip for the ailing DXer Ron Wright, ZL1AMO, from Fiji back home.
Paige said the P5/4L4FN logs should be 100% complete on his Web site (click on “P5 North Korea”).
Giorgadze, who’s from of the Republic of Georgia, had been operating on the basis of oral permission from North Korean authorities, but ARRL Membership Services Manager Wayne Mills, N7NG, said the ARRL was satisfied on the basis of written information submitted that the P5/4L4FN operation conformed with DXCC rules and would continue be accepted for credit.
The P5/4L4FN operation was not a DXpedition. An employee of the United Nations World Food Program, Giorgadze often spends as much as 12 hours a day on the job, and was doing his hamming in his off hours. He is scheduled to remain in North Korea at least until July 2003.
Although the P5/4L4FN operation put a debt in the demand for North Korea among DXCC enthusiasts, for many North Korea will remain among the most-wanted DXCC entities. North Korea was added to the DXCC list in 1991, but actual amateur operations from there have been few and far between.
Prior to P5/4L4FN, the most recent was the brief P51BH operation by Martti Laine, OH2BH, in 1999, which netted just 263 contacts with the rarest entity. Laine was the first to activate North Korea in 1995, when a demonstration operation worked just a handful of contacts.
Newington, CT: Home of the ARRL.
ARRL: American Radio Relay League, organization of amateur radio (Ham) operators.
P5: Prefix of call signs in Peoples’ Republic of Korea.
4L4: Prefix of call sign for hams in the Republic of Georgia.
P5/4L4LFN: Standard method of designating ham (from Georgia) operating in foreign country (PRK).
SSB: Single sideband. The predominant mode of voice communication on the ham bands.
QSL: Postcard confirming contact.
QSL manager: Organizes exchange of American QSLs with foreign ham stations.
AO-40: Amsat Oscar 40. A recent satellite for amateur use built by the amateur satellite organizaition AMSAT.
QSO: A conversation or contact between hams on the air.]