Google just updated its maps for North Korea, which lives under a reclusive dictatorship. While many like to laugh at leader Kim Jong-Un as a fat joke, the gulags that he sends prisoners and whole families to is no laughing matter. In Google’s update, the company saw it fit to include the country’s enormous prison camps in its publicly available maps of the country, appearing as dark brown stains on the otherwise clean landscape.
Using the company’s Map Maker software, Google’s “citizen cartographers,” or regular people who happen to have an interest in North Korea, were able to add new roads and features to the maps of North Korea, sometimes with the help of recent defectors. The use of defector information is clearly apparent, when you switch the image over from Map View to Satellite View:
Easily visible in the photo are buildings labeled “Office of the Gulag Administrator” and “Pharmaceutical Factory,” among others.
The release comes three weeks after Google chairman Eric Schmidt visited North Korea, where he said he was encouraging the government to open the Internet up to more citizens.