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Network

The North Korean diplomatic shortwave network follows a forwarding tree structure, as they limit contacts between their stations to hops of usually no more than 5000 kilometers. Pyongyang sits at the root at the tree structure, as ultimate origin or recipient of all messages between it and embassies. Messages from Pyongyang are transmitted and relayed by North Korean embassies across the world, hop by hop along each branch of the distribution tree, until they are received by their final recipients. Messages from embassies are relayed and forwarded back to Pyongyang in the reverse way.

Embassies in the network are typically equipped with an 8-element log periodic dipole antenna covering roughly 7-25 MHz. Stations are identified in two different ways:

  • The modem ID appears as the first byte of each packet in the DPRK-ARQ protocol, and identifies the peer station on the link - the destination of the packets rather than their source.
  • The embassy "MF" numbers are used in the message headers to identify the origin or recipients of the messages. Historically they already appeared in former DPRK diplomatic transmission formats, prior to the DPRK-ARQ modem.

Station locations can be determined from signal propagation observations, direction-finding and triangulation, the presence and orientation of antennas on embassy buildings, contents of cleartext messages, and identifying information (countries, time zones, phone numbers...) mentioned in cleartext operator chatter.

Continent Modem ID Embassy
number
Location Downstream stations Upstream stations
Africa 0x64 MF76 ?   0xCE
Europe 0xA4 MF02 Warsaw   0xA5
0xA5 - Moscow Multiple (main hub) Pyongyang (non-radio)
0xA6 MF03 Prague   0xA5
0xA8 MF04 Vienna  
0xAA MF06 Sofia  
0xAB MF08 ?  
0xAC MF40 Madrid 0xD2, 0xD6, 0xD8, (MF71)
0xAD MF11 Stockholm  
Africa 0xB1 ? ?   0xD0
Europe 0xB3 MF17 ?   0xA5
0xB4 MF15 ?  
0xB5 MF16 ? (MF21)
Asia 0xBC MF23 ?   0xD3
0xBD MF24 ?  
0xBE MF25 ?   0xC2
0xC2 ? ? 0xBE, 1 unid 0xD3
0xC3 MF41 ? 0xD0
0xC4 ? ? 0xCA
0xC6 MF32 ?  
0xC7 ? ?  
0xC8 MF38 ?
0xCA ? ?   0xC4
0xCC MF36 Damascus   0xA5
Africa 0xCD MF45 Cairo  
0xCE MF46 Tripoli 0x64, 0xCF, 0xD5, (MF63)
Asia 0xCF MF91 Kuwait City   0xCE
Africa 0xD0 ? ? 0xB1 0xC3
0xD2 MF53 Conakry   0xAC
Asia 0xD3 - Pyongyang Multiple (main hub) -
Africa 0xD4 ? ?   ?
0xD5 MF66 ?   0xCE
0xD6 MF51 Dakar   0xAC
South America 0xD8 MF79 Caracas 0xDF
North America 0xDF MF86 Havana   0xD8
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