Google has published more detailed maps of North Korea. In an announcement on its Lat Long blog, the firm announced that the extra data had been provided by a “community of citizen cartographers” who had used the firm’s Map Maker software app to up the information on the service. The timing of the announcement may not prove particularly auspicious for relations between Pyongyang and Washington. The rogue state’s shows of strength have been particularly aggressive of late, with last month’s rocket launch paving the way for more nuclear testing, and even “war” against the South and its “arch enemy” the U.S.
Jayanth Mysore, senior product manager at Google Map Maker, said that the majority of information came from South Koreans. “While many people around the globe are fascinated with North Korea, these maps are especially important for the citizens of South Korea who have ancestral connections or still have family living there.” The BBC news website even found one contributor, Sydney-based Sebastiaan van Oyen, who had used satellite images to get his data. To most North Koreans, however, the Internet is about as real as a cross-dressing unicorn with a deep-seated fear of flying, with access, in the main, verboten.
This news comes just weeks after Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, returned from a private humanitarian visit to the rogue state. It is not known just how much new data he provided for the updated map.