News / Asia

    Google Unveils Detailed North Korea Map

    Google interactive map of North Korea
    Google interactive map of North Korea
    The U.S.-based Internet giant Google has unveiled a detailed map of North Korea. Maps provided by Internet search engines provide a variety of benefits to users, including travel routes and landmark locations. Google's new map gives significant details of parts of reclusive North Korea, including the capital, Pyongyang, and some notorious gulags. But few people living in the isolated country are likely to be able to peruse the Internet search tool.

    Among the Internet's online sites, Google is known for its detailed maps of virtually every inhabited spot on the planet. But until now, North Korea has largely been unknown territory when it comes to the best known online maps available.

    One respected online North Korea interactive map project is 38 North: DPRK Digital Atlas.

    Jayanth Mysore, senior product manager for Google's Map Maker tool, said in a recent blog posting that a “community of citizen cartographers,” working over several years, helped to fill in the blanks.

    There has been no immediate reaction from North Korean authorities about the enhanced Google map.

    Kim Hung-kwang, a former professor at the North's Hamheung Computer Technology University who defected to the South, says the map eventually could end up on the isolated country's own intranet or be accessed via cell phones. 

    Kim says it might even be possible that North Korea would license the Google map for use by its citizens.
     
    But others are skeptical.

    The map lists subway stops, schools and hospitals in the capital, Pyongyang. But it also shows remote locations for the North's so-called "re-education camps."

    Human rights activists say up to 200,000 people may be held in these gulags.

    Professor Yang Moo-jin at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies expects the authorities in Pyongyang will be upset with Google for detailing locations such as the gulags and military bases.

    Yang says the North Koreans are very sensitive about such facilities. So he would not be surprised to see North Korea protesting to Google about the map details.

    Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt stands on a balcony at the Grand Peoples Study House overlooking Juche Tower in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 9, 2013.Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt stands on a balcony at the Grand Peoples Study House overlooking Juche Tower in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 9, 2013.
    x
    Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt stands on a balcony at the Grand Peoples Study House overlooking Juche Tower in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 9, 2013.
    Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt stands on a balcony at the Grand Peoples Study House overlooking Juche Tower in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 9, 2013.
    Earlier this month, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt went to Pyongyang as part of an entourage that included former New Mexico governor and U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson.

    Schmidt said after his visit that he told North Korean officials “they have to make it possible for people to use the Internet.”

    Internet access is restricted to all but the most privileged and influential in North Korea. It is believed that the number of people there authorized to access the web totals fewer than 1,000.

    By contrast, in South Korea, one of the world's most advanced countries for utilization of high technology, more than 39 million people are online.

    Google says South Koreans contributed information for the North Korean map project, and it is encouraging additional contributors to help. But it is unlikely, for now, that anyone inside the impoverished and reclusive country will be permitted by authorities to assist.

     Additional reporting by Youmi Kim in the VOA Seoul bureau.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora