60-Second Tech

Google Maps North Korea

Web users--except those in North Korea itself, where Internet use is restricted--now have a view of the secretive kingdom's landmarks, infrastructure and prison camps. Larry Greenemeier reports

The next time you’re headed to North Korea, you can consult Google Maps first. Google recently revised its digital world atlas to include the notoriously closed-off country, which had been one of the last places on Earth absent from Google Maps.

North Korea’s debut is the result of a crowd-sourced effort using Google’s Map Maker software to identify parks, transportation routes, stadiums and other landmarks above the 38th parallel. Compared with other regions of the world Google’s map of North Korea isn’t terribly detailed, but it does note the location of various prison camps throughout the country, according to the mappers.

The North Korea map appeared just weeks after Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s visit to the country, ostensibly to promote open access in a nation where the government limits the average citizen’s Internet use. So the map won’t be very useful to people inside North Korea.

Nor will it help visitors much on the ground there. According to the U.S. State Department, border guards typically confiscate mobile devices from travelers entering the country, to be returned when you leave (or Bill Clinton is called to come get you out).

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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