Google Adds North Korea to Maps App

Google Adds North Korea to Maps App

New satellite data locates highways, landmarks in Pyongyang and prison camps in North Korea

Google on Tuesday added satellite images of North Korea to its Google Maps application, allowing users to browse the outlines of some of the country's prison camps, the company announced in a blog post.

For the first time in the Maps project's eight-year history, viewers can find roads and highways connect the isolated nation's cities and towns. Some buildings and landmarks in its capital, Pyongyang, appear. And, in other areas, images of the camps crowded with the regime of Kim Jong-Un's political enemies.

The images' release came three weeks after Google executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, traveled to the isolated nation on a private visit with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

A Google spokesman said the trip was not linked to the new maps feature.

"There is absolutely no connection in the timing," David Marx, the head of product public relations for Google Asia-Pacific, told TheWrap. "This data has been in Map Maker since 2009. It commonly takes the Map Maker community a few years to generate enough high quality data to be moved into Google Maps proper."

But he said that much of the user-generated data was used to corroborate Google's own satellite images and flesh out the map with more information.

"North Korea data on Google Maps comes primarily from the user-generated maps contributed through Google Map Maker," Marx said.