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North Korea's Prison Camps Are Now On Google Maps 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the follow-the-dirt-road-and-hang-a-left-at-the-Denny's dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "It's been nearly a decade since Shin Dong-hyuk, an ex-prisoner of North Korea's Camp 14, crawled over the electrocuted body of a friend lying dead on a fence, a boundary he was born inside of and lived within for 23 years. He made his way across the Chinese border on foot and was granted political asylum and citizenship in Seoul. Now, thanks to updated Google maps of the region, you can actually (if somewhat loosely) retrace the steps of his incredible escape. Through its Map Maker program, which crowdsources cartographic info, Google has published finer details of some North Korean roads. More notably, it has included shaded-in locations of the country's notorious prison camps. The data has flowed in from a few different sources, including defected North Korean expats now living in Seoul. Geographically-minded tourists and visitors of North Korea have weighed in, and historic map data from pre-partitioned Korea into has also been helpful. (Google maintains that the recent trip to Pyongyang by CEO Eric Schmidt had nothing to do with this project.)"
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North Korea's Prison Camps Are Now On Google Maps

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  • Old News (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:16PM (#42731389)

    This has been on the iOS platforms since the last update. I asked Siri for riving direction to Sam's Hamburger shack and ended up in a NK concentration camp. Kinda hard to explain to Lil Un, but after a few months I was let go.

  • I mean I always read about westerners trying to sneak into the country
    Must be the awesome there

    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:37PM (#42731613) Homepage

      I mean I always read about westerners trying to sneak into the country.

      I can recall only a couple of cranks in recent years who tried to sneak in for missionary purposes or whatever. However, tourism in North Korea is a pretty ordinary thing, as much as Americans (who would have some difficult obtaining a visa) think it's somehow impenetrable. You fly in from China, are assigned to a group with a minder, and you get a tour of various impressive Communist sites and the North Korea side of the DMZ. You don't get to freely move about, but visiting North Korea holds some attraction for those who want to see the bizarre cult of personality state that it is before it (hopefully) disappears forever. There are myriad blogs on the web detailing people's trips.

      • I gather there is one church that sends up balloons from south korea, each carrying a bible, designed to deflate and land in the north.

      • A great trip report is the Google Talk by Siegfried S. Hecker [youtube.com], nuclear scientist (Los Alamos) and advises the US government on the nuclear proliferation w.r.t. North Korea. And on one of the last trips, they proudly show him what they have.

      • by isorox (205688)

        I mean I always read about westerners trying to sneak into the country.

        I can recall only a couple of cranks in recent years who tried to sneak in for missionary purposes or whatever. However, tourism in North Korea is a pretty ordinary thing, as much as Americans (who would have some difficult obtaining a visa) think it's somehow impenetrable. You fly in from China, are assigned to a group with a minder, and you get a tour of various impressive Communist sites and the North Korea side of the DMZ. You don't get to freely move about, but visiting North Korea holds some attraction for those who want to see the bizarre cult of personality state that it is before it (hopefully) disappears forever. There are myriad blogs on the web detailing people's trips.

        There are some more unique ways in. I read a blog about some Austrians that went in via train. NK were not expecting that!

        There are more difficult places to go to for those that want the been-there-done-that stamp. Pitcairn Island, French southern and Antarctic lands from a remoteness perspective. From a permit perspective, the gaza strip (as a tourist), and Kashmir I think is off limits too. Not sure how easy Rast Timor is to get to at the moment, or the Tamil part of sri lanka.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          afaik anyone can use the train route to go in as a tourist into NK.
          it's just americans who can't.

        • by Creepy (93888)

          Yeah, China is the back door to North Korea just like Mexico is the back door to Cuba. Though I don't personally know anyone that has gone to North Korea, I know personally and have met several Americans that have gone to Cuba through Mexico, many for the diving, which is supposed to be some of the best in the world, despite the fact that under the Helms-Burton act this is a felony (I am fairly sure, as the law is vague and tourism can easily be interpreted as "doing business with Cuba"). What I find funny

    • There are some awesome sights there.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHMSGQwLPrA [youtube.com]

  • If you look at OpenStreetMap's maps of North Korea in comparison to Google, you see that the OSM maps are of much higher quality, as well as being Free (unlike Google MapMaker):

    http://tools.geofabrik.de/mc/?mt0=mapnik&mt1=googlemap&lon=125.7375&lat=39.03865&zoom=12 [geofabrik.de]

    • Well - it has more detail. A map's quality is measured by its accuracy, and how much information it conveys. I can't speak to the accuracy of either map, but the Google map is definitely a lot easier to understand - or at least, I can make a lot of implicit assumptions about the lay of the land from the map. Without memorizing what colors correspond to what, the Openmap is a lot harder to understand.

      Again, a lot rests on the accuracy of the map (both objectively and what I can implicitly deduce). But purely

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      They seem to have - for the most part - exactly the same information. It's just that Google's plotting scheme is focussed on readability (e.g. all roads are the same colour, you have to use labels to distinguish types) whereas OSM is more like your classic Ordanance Survey map. Drag the comparison over to London and you'll see that the same apparent difference in detail applies.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Here's the same comparison centred over London [geofabrik.de]. It's clearly a data presentation issue, and not a data issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    (Google maintains that the recent trip to Pyongyang by CEO Eric Schmidt had nothing to do with this project.)"

    North Korea maintains that this project has nothing to do with their ongoing development of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles that can reach Mountain View, CA.

    • Kim Jong Il is dead. Kim Jong Un studied in Europe. Schmidt and daughter go to NK... That nuclear buzz is all a front, he still has to show the Establishment he behaves . But give him more time, and KJU will become the new South-East Gorbachev. Two years maybe.
      • by Creepy (93888)

        That would be true if Kim Jong Un were actually in power rather than a figurehead for the ruling party, which is what I suspect he is. There already have been indications that if he doesn't toe the line, he will be ousted by the party.

  • by futhermocker (2667575) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:22PM (#42731461)
    Seems to be a pretty cool resort
    http://goo.gl/maps/bVK4C [goo.gl]
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Wow, a username like "futhermocker" and a shortened URL? The mods are sure brave today! Is that goatse they found so funny? Spam site? Someone wanting to drop a virus? No way I'm clicking.that link, what's the REAL url? This isn't twitter, please stop shortening URLs. To link a site, do this: <a href="goatsemalwareuglysister.xxx">really cool pictures of a supermodel </a> so everyone will know it's safe.

      Twit. With a six digit URL you should know better.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Wow, if only there was a URL shortener service that Google ran directly, so you could assure yourself by the URL that it certainly redirected to Google Maps and not a youtube video of a shitty 80's pop song or a man's distended anus or something. They could even use Greenland's country code to make it a nice pun, something like "goo.gl/maps", for example.

      • by Anonymous Coward
      • by Anonymous Coward

        With a 5 digit URL you should be old enough to count digits properly.

    • Is there a reason you and so many other others use goo.gl URL shorteners? The reason I ask is that there is no way for me to know what is at the other end of it and even if I could see what was at the other end of it, the mandatory filter that I sit behind blocks it anyways. It is not like electrons are in short supply or that clicking a 500 character link is any more tedious than clicking a 5 character link; although I supposed it could be argued that if you are moving your mouse to highlight a URL you hav

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:38PM (#42731633)

    The FEMA death camps that have been set up to imprison free and liberated Americans as Obama's Atheistic Muslim Communist Fascism is implemented in this country.

    The abortion-mill brothels will also not be shown. Because Google is in it on it, as is NASA, SpaceX, and Boeing. It's all part of the conspiracy with the Reverse Vampires and Doctor Evil.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      The FEMA death camps that have been set up to imprison free and liberated Americans as Obama's Atheistic Muslim Communist Fascism is implemented in this country.

      The abortion-mill brothels will also not be shown. Because Google is in it on it, as is NASA, SpaceX, and Boeing. It's all part of the conspiracy with the Reverse Vampires and Doctor Evil.

      Can't tell if troll or if Alex Jones forgot his password.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        It's a troll (or an incredibly stupid attempt at humor) and whoever modded it "funny" is a dork (and yes, I said that on purpose, waste your points modding me down, idiot, so you don't have the points to mod idiocy up).

        BTW, the troll wasn't funny but I got a chuckle out of your unmodded comment. I wonder why moderation is so abysmal today, I've seen a "make shitloads of money on the internet" spam twice today, neither one modded down. And they mod that garbage UP!

        Did I get on 4chan or reddit by mistake?

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          My comment is modded now, but it's "Funny" which is nothing but a signal to other mods to downmod. This should result in a net zero to karma, but doesn't. Whatever. The whole thing is a broken joke, as evidenced by some of the spam that has gone unmodded. The only thing I'll say in defense is that perhaps as a group, people ARE focusing more on upmods than downmods. Was it some of that 'work from home' crap? I generally don't waste points on it. It's obvious and not particularly offensive.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            They've changed it. Funny used to be karma-neutral, but no longer. It surprised me when I saw the change to the faq. Like metamoderation, the old way was much better.

        • The juxtaposition of your complaint and your tagline is something I find incredibly humorous. Lighten up, pal.

  • One Day... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:39PM (#42731639)

    When NK falls and the full extent to which its people have been oppressed is revealed, the entire civilized world will hang its head in shame over how long this abomination has been allowed to exist.

    • When NK falls and the full extent to which its people have been oppressed is revealed, the entire civilized world will hang its head in shame over how long this abomination has been allowed to exist.

      The United States didn't want to get involved in the Germany / Jew issue, either.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm sorry, but the US is not the world's policeman. If there is mass murder, it does not automatically mean that the US has to intervene. If the President had a magic stick that automatically stopped the mass killings without other collateral killings and geopolitical destabilization, then you could make that argument. But the President doesn't have that magic stick, so the benefits and dangers of any type of intervention need to be carefully weighed.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      The entire civilized world can't do much while China is backing them. Sad as it is, it's not worth a nuclear war.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        there's also the merit of status quo, which is part of why nothing is being done about it.

        that is, many north koreans know full well that if the curtain was to come down they would in jail and history books - if they were lucky, if unlucky they'd be executed(and because that's the way they roll in NK that's probably what they believe would happen to them). this is not just one or two north koreans but tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, who would need to be prosecuted. so it is believed that

        • so it is believed that if the curtain starts coming down they might try to dispose of the problem by making the camps disappear(by killing everyone, maybe even the staff) rather than face the music.

          That worked out real well for the surviving Nazis, I hear.

          in any case, some of you may have noticed that China is no longer giving carte-blanche to the DPRK [globaltimes.cn]:

          In response to UN Security Council Resolution 2087 which was approved on Wednesday [2013-01-23, China time], North Korea vowed that it will carry out a "high-level" nuclear test. This may not be mere angry words, because South Korea says preparation for North Korea's new nuclear test is already in progress.

          Wednesday's UN resolution condemned North Korea's rocket launch in December and expanded existing sanctions. After putting a lot of effort into amendments for the draft resolution, China also voted for it.

          It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China's efforts. It criticized China without explicitly naming it in its statement yesterday [2013-01-24]: "Those big countries, which are obliged to take the lead in building a fair world order, are abandoning without hesitation even elementary principles, under the influence of the US' arbitrary and high-handed practices, and failing to come to their senses."

          China has a dilemma: We are further away from the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and there's no possible way for us to search for a diplomatic balance between North Korea and South Korea, Japan and the US.

          China should be more relaxed and reduce our expectations on the effect of our strategies toward the peninsula. We should have a pragmatic attitude to deal with the problems and pursue the optimal ratio between our investment of resources and strategic gains.

          China can neither take one side of the peninsula conflict like the US and Japan nor dream of staying aloof. We should readily accept that China is involved and may offend one side or both sides.

          China's role and position are clear when discussing North Korea issue in the UN Security Council. If North Korea engages in further nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce its assistance to North Korea. ...

          China hopes for a stable peninsula, but it's not the end of the world if there's trouble there. This should be the baseline of China's position.

          Translation: "We're starting to figure out that there's precious little advantage to backing up NK much longer, and Kim3 is kidding himself if he thinks otherwise."

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The entire civilized world can't do much while China is backing them. Sad as it is, it's not worth a nuclear war.

        The entire civilized world can't do much while they are backing China. There, fixed that for you.

    • And what would you do about it? Blowing the government up would be easy, but then you have a flood of refugees as the country implodes - local warlords rise to power, starvation, and a general humanitarian disaster. Or you could invade but - as Iraq and Afganistan show - the locals won't be happy. There's a cult of personality at play, and invaders are never welcomed even if they are trying to act in the best interests of the invaded. So then you have a simmering conflict that goes on for years, costing tri

      • as opposed to a single warlord, starvation and a humanitarian disaster?

    • by synir (731266)
      Allowed? They have nuclear weapons and they are crazy. I obviously agree about the vile oppression taking place but there's only so much that can be done.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This account of Soon Ok Lee before the US Senate Judiciary Committee is one of the most chilling things I've ever read:
      http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=4f1e0899533f7680e78d03281fe18baf&wit_id=4f1e0899533f7680e78d03281fe18baf-2-1

      Some say the world would have acted against Hitler sooner if they knew of the concentration and death camps, but what that transcript describes I don't see as being materially different. The problem of course is that any military provocation would have di

    • by houghi (78078)

      When the US falls and the full extent to which its people have been oppressed is revealed, the entire civilized world will hang its head in shame over how long this abomination has been allowed to exist.

      First I thought it would be funny to do the above and just write "Fixed that for you" and then I started to think.

    • It's well and widely known the atrocities that go on there. From reports, things that make saddams rape rooms look like candyland. Of course like the shameful stupid nations we are, we continue to further isolate and punish the people of NK via sanctions and cock waving with its leaders. They could have ended hostilities long ago by trying to catch bees with honey instead of pouring vinegar on them and watching the people of NK pay the price. Knock out the leadership once and for all or come to the tabl
    • I doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 1800maxim (702377) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:28PM (#42732085)
      The civilized world has been progressively removed from reality and will be too busy chatting on Facebook, worried about latest stock market fluctuations, and getting semi-affordable gas at the pump.

      Typical response: "NK free? Yay! What movie u goin 2 see?"
    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

      The civilized world won't do shit, much less "hang its head in shame." Humans are not compassionate creatures, by nature, except the immediate few we care about.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Humans are not compassionate creatures, by nature, except the immediate few we care about.HUMANS are.

        • by asmkm22 (1902712)

          Humans are not compassionate creatures, by nature, except the immediate few we care about.HUMANS are.

          Sorry, but we didn't rise to the top of the food chain through compassion.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Actually, we did. Without empathy we probably would have become extinct before agriculture came about. They say that Neanderthals were more intelligent than early Homo Sapiens, and I suspect that Neanderthals became extinct because we had more empathy than them. A succinct line from "Pale Rider": "A man alone is easy prey." Try killing a saber toothed tiger by yourself with nothing more than a spear -- a spear invented by someone else.

    • When NK falls and the full extent to which its people have been oppressed is revealed,

      Here is a start - from the only person known to have been born in and escape from one of these prison camps. [utsalumni.org]

      the entire civilized world will hang its head in shame over how long this abomination has been allowed to exist.

      I agree. And it isn't just a case of china backing them or seoul being vulnerable. Why aren't we pushing for a full peace treaty - like we've ended every other official war - instead of just an armistice? The whole "the war is not over" thing is the main pillar of NK's pathology. I'm not so naive as to believe a peace treaty would magically make things all lovey-dovey. But it would be progress

      • by Creepy (93888)

        North Korea's conditions for a peace treaty would be this
        1) South Korea surrenders all of its territory
        2) The new Korea is allowed to nuke Japan in retaliation for occupation
        3) If America intervenes in the nuking of Japan, they agree to 5 random cities getting nuked in retaliation for each Korean death

    • by TheSync (5291)

      the entire civilized world will hang its head in shame over how long this abomination has been allowed to exist.

      NK is a cult. I'm not sure how you can deprogram an entire country. It is true that dissenters are dealt with harshly, but most people in NK never dissent, not out of fear of punishment, but mainly because they buy into the regime's religion.

      There were plenty of "true believers" in the USSR as well.

    • by dtjohnson (102237)

      ...the entire civilized world will hang its head in shame over how long this abomination has been allowed to

      No shame. North Korea is propped up by China. Unless and until China changes its mind about supporting North Korea, there is nothing that the 'civilized world' can do that will make the situation any better...except, perhaps...buying less of the 'Made in China' stuff. Moreover, the only thing that China cares about right now is flexing its muscles to take over a couple of small islands that Japa

    • How exactly do you intend to stop it? There's not any real good way.
    • When the US was backing Germany, US volunteers went to the UK to fight on the right side. Men and women who put their lives on the line for what they believed in.

      You believe in something? Then put your life on the line. Ah, thought so, life is a bit to comfortable sitting behind a computer spouting morality. Trust me, I know. It is easy to ignore the horrors of the world if they aren't happening to you.

      We will all find different excuses for it "one man can't change anything" "I have no power" "the US is n

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      You've bought into North Korea's myth of obscurity: the civilised world is in fact acutely aware of the state of the country and it's an ongoing political debate as to what can be done about it. Sanctions only impose greater hardship on the populace and the only thing a war would be guaranteed to do is turn an oppressed population into a refugee one. Worst case scenario, I worry that it would turn into a massacre.

    • by MTEK (2826397)
      If there's one thing I could communicate to the inhabitants of these modern-day concentration camps, it would be this: "suck it up; no one is coming to help you". Part of me wonders if folks in the U.S. administration and abroad, at least subconsciously, hope NK develops the bomb including a credible delivery mechanism. Politically, it's an acceptable excuse to do absolutely nothing. I suppose all those first-hand accounts I heard from holocaust survivors were all for naught. Oh well. Sucks to be you, ind
  • I followed the links through to a Guardian review of the book about Shin, only to find "This content has been removed as our copyright has expired." WTF?

    Fortunately, the Wayback Machine is a bit more sane and has the full story: http://web.archive.org/web/20120320021739/http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/mar/16/escape-north-korea-prison-camp [archive.org]

  • The maps for China don't actually align to the satellite image? The maps are reasonably accurate, but they're off by a few miles or so, it looks like. But then the border lines up with the satellite image, and the maps for North Korea, right across the border, line up perfectly with the satellite image. Is it just me? Am I seeing things?

    Here's a portion of the border which demonstrates the problem: http://goo.gl/maps/ObMDJ [goo.gl]

  • Kimjongilia (Score:3, Informative)

    by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:27PM (#42732071)
    If you have netflix, I'd recommend Kimjongilia. It covers the stories of defectors, including Shin. Very well done.
    • I second that. Also on Netflix streaming: Walking the Line about 4 American defectors into NK (with primary focus on one).

      Then go to the North Korea travel series, done in 3 parts posted on YouTube by Vice.com (search Vice Guide to North Korea).

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