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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid