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Obama who? N. Korean media silent on big day

SEOUL -- For the rest of the world there was only one story, but North Korea's state media had other priorities.

As of 4pm Wednesday (1800 AEDT) its newspapers and radio and TV stations had not mentioned the inauguration of US President Barack Obama, according to officials at South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

The agency monitors broadcast and other media in the communist state, where information is tightly controlled.

The ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun found space for the news that the president of Equatorial Guinea received the North Korean ambassador, but not for the installation of America's first African-American leader.

The North supplies television and radio sets which are pre-tuned to official broadcasters, and attempts to jam foreign short-wave stations.

But not all its 23 million people are cut off from the world.

Some households in border regions tune in to South Korean or Chinese TV or radio stations despite periodic crackdowns. DVDs and mobile phones are smuggled from China.

Lee Min-Bok, of the North Korean Christians Association in Seoul, told AFP any access to foreign news was officially barred.

"Some Chinese TV signals are caught in border areas but otherwise North Koreans have little access to any news but those from the official propaganda mill," Lee said.

The North's media has not totally ignored Obama - a state broadcaster in Pyongyang on November 7 reported his presidential election victory three days earlier.

"Democratic candidate Barack Obama, an African-American senator, was elected president in the November 4 election," it said, in what South Korean monitors said was an unusually speedy report on a US election.

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