There was a time, if you were an expat living in Korea, when the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service—better known as AFRTS—and here in Korea, the Armed Forces Korean Network (AFKN) was your link to the outside world and an entertainment, news, and sports lifeline.
Even if you despised all the military PSA propaganda as well as a lot of American culture being rammed down your throat, AFKN which eventually became AFN made living in Korea less insular. In a time before the Internet, DVD’s, downloading and file sharing, AFN was a very important source for news, entertainment and sports.
I’ll never forget the night I arrived in Korea in December 1990 and was taken to my apartment in Chamsil in Seoul. There was a TV in my apartment and when I turned it on, there was David Letterman delivering his opening monologue.
Well, it looks as though the AFN era—at least for cable subscribers in Korea is about to come to and end with the recent announcement that Korean cable companies will no longer carry AFN as part of their cable programming.
“South Korean cable companies will cease broadcasting the AFN Pacific Prime channel this month, leaving some U.S. personnel living off base looking elsewhere for the programming they’ve grown accustomed to.
American Forces Network-Korea personnel take a satellite feed of the Pacific Prime broadcast and insert local command information including nightly news broadcasts, Korea-specific commercials and alerts such as school closures and product recalls.
That product is then provided to the on-base cable subscribers and is sent out over the open airwaves, so any USFK member who has an antenna and is within range can pick up the signal.
The purpose of the over-the-air broadcast is to provide another means of emergency-information transmission, a supplement to the primary radio outlet, according to USFK spokesman Col. Franklin Childress.
But South Korean cable companies also capture the signal and then sell it along with their other programs, according to Childress.
American companies attempting to sell their programming in South Korea in recent years raised the issue, saying that you guys have got to do something about it.”
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