Despite North Korea being one of the world’s most shrouded countries, Google Maps has helped users get that little bit closer to it, by publishing better detailed maps of the area.

Thanks to a ‘community of citizen cartographers’ which came together in Google Map Maker, the new and more in-depth maps allow users to zoom in on areas with more precision.

In keeping with the internet giant’s goal of providing people with the most comprehensive, accurate, and easy-to-use modern maps of the world, the web mapping service has added details such as road names, subways, bridges and the infamous slave labour camps or gulags, in the Chongjin region.

Crucial first step

Senior product manager from Google Map Maker, Jayanth Mysore, said: “Creating maps is a crucial first step towards helping people access more information about parts of the world that are unfamiliar to them.

“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 map of the country’s capital, Pyongyang, shows details such as stadiums, universities, monuments and the Kim Il-sung Square, where military parades are held.

Prison camps

The updated view also shows the Chongjin Gulag region, an area where the country allegedly operates gulag-like political prison camps/concentration camps, believed to be some of the most inhumane prisons in the world.

Google Maps Reveals N.Korean Prison Camps

Since 2008, Google Map Maker has allowed anyone with an interest in cartography to update the maps of the areas they know, and improve their level of detail and accuracy.

As no map is perfect and in some parts of the world, map data is very limited, Map Maker is an increasingly important part of how it builds the modern map.

Global effort

Mysore said the recent improvements were only able to be made following years of effort from many people

“We encourage people from around the world to continue helping us improve the quality of these maps for everyone with Google Map Maker,” Mysore added.

“From this point forward, any further approved updates to the North Korean maps in Google Map Maker will also appear on Google Maps.”


[Images via applemagazine & nationalreview]