Added by Erik West on January 29, 2013
Google’s Maps unveiled on Monday a detailed map of North Korea, an area that was previously largely undocumented on the popular site, just weeks after Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, made a trip to the country.
A senior product manager of Google Map Maker said North Korea was of the largest places with limited map data.
Google’s Map Maker maps are created using data provided by members of the public and fact-checked in a way that’s similar to Wikipedia verification processes. The process reportedly took several years.
The product manager said the maps are important for citizens of South Korea who have family members living on North Korea or have ancestral connections there.
South Korean officials on Tuesday welcomed the Google map initiative.
South Korean officials said the move is a positive one, explaining that the availability of the maps are an opportunity for the world to know more about the secretive North Korea.
The new Google map proves a detailed map of the capital Pyongyang, showing hospitals, subway stops and schools; currently available maps are not as detailed within these regions.
Map details are sparse outside the capitol, yet the maps do reveal a series of city-sized, grey-colored areas which, when zoomed in on, are identified as “re-education camps”, or detention centers.
As many as 200,000 people are estimated to be held in the North’s detention system.
Google Earth satellite has previously helped locate these detention camps. The satellite photos were used by human-rights researchers to determine the location of existing camps and verify the existence of new camps.
North Korea and South Korea were accepted into the United Nations in 1991; the previous country known as the Korean Empire was separated into two zones in 1945 and two separate governments were established though a UN-supervised vote in 1948. First Chairman of the National Defense Commission, considered to be North Korea’s highest office of state, is lead by Kim Jong-un, son of Kim Jong-il who lead the country until his death in 2011.