KCTV was established on 1 September 1953 as Pyongyang Television after the Korean War ended. Kim Il-sung personally envisioned that the time was ripe for television broadcasting in North Korea, but this was not yet to happen. Thus, the PBN began an 8-year period of preparation for the commencement of television broadcasts, with the help of the national government.
The station later was renamed as Central Television Broadcasting System in 1961 and conducted on 1 September the same year its first test broadcasts.
The CTBS_DPRK officially began operations on 3 March 1963 at 19:00 (7:00 pm) KST based in Pyongyang, broadcasting two hours between 19:00 (7:00 pm) until 21:00 (9:00 pm) KST on weekdays only, and then expanding to 4 and later 6 hours.
The network carried live the whole proceedings of the 5th Workers' Party of Korea Congress held on 1 October 1970.
The CTBS would later be renamed Korean Central Television (KCTV) and was officially relaunched at 17:00 (5:00 pm) local time on 3 January 1973 (the first working day in 1973 in North Korea). The broadcasting hours were only on weekdays (workdays in North Korea) and closed on weekends and national holidays.
KCTV officially began color television broadcasts on 1 July 1974 and broadcast the first live color telecast in preparation for the 7th Asian Games held in Tehran via satellite transmission on 1 September 1974, the first network to do so. KCTV was the first live color television channel to broadcast the New Year's Eve in color on 31 December 1974, and in 1975 began weekend broadcasts as well. KCTV started their full-time color broadcasts on 1 September 1977.
The first broadcast received via satellite television broadcasts was the 22nd Summer Olympic Games on 19 July 1980.
KCTV started broadcasting on national holidays on 1 March 1981. On national holidays, the broadcasting time of each station is the same as weekends save for major ones.
The channel was the official host broadcaster of the 1989 13th World Festival of Youth and Students.
On 19 January 2015, KCTV started experimental high-definition television broadcasts via digital satellite as part of its modernization of the network. Although the broadcaster has been producing a growing number of shows in 16:9 format for several years, the station was still natively broadcasting in 4:3 format and widescreen programs, therefore, had to be shown letterboxed. For satellite transmissions, this meant that the station's 4:3 output was broadcast with black bars on both sides, resulting in widescreen programs getting window boxed.
The station began natively broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen with stereophonic sound on 4 December 2017, one of the last state-run broadcasters to do so, albeit several years after other developed nations have done so. To reflect this change, the station's graphics have been refreshed and its test card has been changed for the first time since 1980.