Google Presents More Detailed Map of North Korea

February 9, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. comprehensive 
[kom-pri-HEN-siv] (adj.) – detailed or complete
Example: A map is a comprehensive guide for directions.

2. activist [AK-tuh-vist(n.) – person who strongly supports social or political change
Example: Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist who fought for racial equality in the U.S.

3. defector [dih-FEK-ter(n.) – person who has left his own country or group
Example: The Chinese defector told the U.S. government about illegal activities in his country.

4. landmark [LAND-mahrk(n.) – a building or object that can be easily recognized or seen
Example: Mt. Fuji and the Tokyo tower are famous landmarks of Japan.

5. reveal [ri-VEEL(v.) – to show something that is hidden and unknown
Example: The newspaper revealed the president’s plan to steal the people’s money.

Read the text below.

Google Earth, a famous online mapping system, now shows more comprehensive details of the North Korean territory, especially its prison camp or ‘gulag’ systems.

Human rights activists can now identify the prison camps in North Korea through this application. According to some rights groups, North Korea has about 250,000 prisoners in its prison camps.

According to Google, the details were taken from North Korean map-makers who helped Google identify and label important landmarks and roads.

Google Earth’s satellite pictures have been helpful to internet bloggers like Joshua Stanton and Curtis Melvin who are closely monitoring activities in North Korea. With the support of experts and North Korean defectors, both bloggers were able to identify prison camps in North Korea.

Stanton’s blog shows images and analysis of six North Korean prison camps. With the use of Google Earth, Stanton’s blog even identified small details such as the camp’s guard houses and burial grounds.

Melvin’s blog also used Google Earth to point out North Korean train stations, schools, and factories, apart from prison camps.

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea acknowledged Stanton, Melvin, and Google’s efforts to provide proof of prison camps in North Korea. This committee even revealed the existence of the prison camps in the first and second edition of the book “The Hidden Gulag.”

The North Korean government has been denying the existence of prison camps, but the images from Google Earth make this denial unbelievable.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How would satellite images of North Korea be useful for human rights activists?
·         Do you think the images and information provided by Google maps are reliable? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         What are the advantages of Internet Mapping Services like Google Earth?
·         What could be possible disadvantages or dangers of Internet Mapping Services?


February 9, 2013