Google Launches Crowdsourced North Korea Map

January 29th, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Google opens its Google Maps program for “citizen cartographers” who can contribute in building a map of North Korea, one of the world’s most secretive countries.

Google’s map of North Korea used to be as blank as a tabula rasa, save for several rivers and lakes. But if you check the country now on Google Maps, you can see that it is starting to have highways, streets, and (at least in capital Pyongyang) even landmarks such as monuments, parks, and hotels.

The project provides an insight of the country we normally know for its nuclear program and nothing else. Bet you didn’t know that Pyongyang has a zoo and its own subway system, which the map marks.

Google Maps even includes the locations of some of North Korea’s notorious gulags, forced labor camps where they throw their prisoners (as well as their descendants up to the third degree, so they say). And judging by the gray area that covers each gulag, counting to four as of this posting, you can tell how vast these camps are.

Google’s initiative to map out North Korea after the company’s executive chairman, Eric E. Schmidt, visited Pyongyang in a very controversial trip organized by New Mexico’s former governor Bill Richardson. Schmidt, a proponent of Internet connectivity, has urged the country’s officials to allow more North Koreans use the Internet.

The map is not much detailed, but at least we are able to see some features in the isolated country that the powers-that-be in Pyongyang do not want us to know.

Source: New York Times

Photo credit: Google/ Agence France-Presse


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