Google unveils detailed North Korea map

A screengrab of a new Google Map of North Korea's capital, Pyongyang.

For outsiders, there are few good maps of North Korea. Google is trying to change that. Monday night, the search giant updated its maps to include detailed info for North Korea for the first time.

Now, you can zoom in on Pyongyang and see street names and subway stations. Zoom out and find gulags, labeled for all to see. Before today, most of this map was blank.

“"This is a celebration of the freedom of information,"” says Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

The map data comes from what Google calls a “community of citizen cartographers,” ordinary people who submitted the info. Scarlatoiu says much of it may have come from defectors.

He says the maps will have uses outside the country, as virtually no North Koreans are online.

“"This will most likely enhance interest in North Korea. This will hopefully enhance interest in the North Korean human rights situation,"” Scarlatoiu says.

Carl Howe of the Yankee Group says this is part of Google’'s larger business plan.

“"Whether they can sell advertising or not, they still want to have all the world’s information,”" Howe says.

And, that includes even the world'’s most secretive country.

Last month, Google’'s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt traveled to North Korea, but Google says it’s been working on its North Korea maps for years.

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