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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid