Google has added more detail to its map of North Korea this week, giving users a better glimpse into the infrastructure of the highly secretive country.Much of the map is still relatively blank compared with Google's detailed maps of other countries. In some parts, though, the map shows information such as roads, schools, parks and waterways, especially near the capital and largest city, Pyongyang. The map also features shaded areas where prison camps, or gulags, are believed to be located.The map was mostly put together by "citizen cartographers" using its Google Map Maker tool, the company said. The crowd-sourcing feature, first launched in 2008, allows users to add information such as roads, landmarks, bodies of water or buildings to existing Google Maps.Map Maker is available in more than 200 countries, but is especially useful in places like North Korea where geospatial information isn't widely available. Google said efforts to boost the country's maps have been going on for a few … [Read more...] about Google Peels Away Some of North Korea’s Mystery
North korea from space
Flanked by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Google chairman Eric Schmidt arrived Monday in North Korea.Richardson, who also is a former UN ambassador, has characterized the trip as a "private humanitarian mission" -- a far more hospitable description than ones coming from the U.S. State Department (which said the jaunt was "not particularly helpful") and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who described the delegation as "useful idiots."It is not clear what the duo hopes to achieve in North Korea, although CNet reports that Richardson will inquire about a Korean-American who was detained last month in North Korea. The Google exec was not treating it as a business trip, but instead was genuinely interested in foreign policy, said Richardson, who invited Schmidt on the trek.The State Department's rebuke of the trip was echoed by McCain, who scoffed at Richardson and Schmidt by invoking, of all people, former Communist leader Vladimir Lenin. McCain tweeted, "Richardson and Schmidt arrive in … [Read more...] about TECH TREK Google’s Schmidt Touches Down in North Korea
The people of North Korea are stuck in an unfortunate situation right now. The country’s leadership feeds its citizens propaganda about poverty and danger in the outside world, and thanks to Kim Jong-un’s strict media ban, citizens have no access to any other information. It’s an issue that not enough people are aware of, according to some of the human rights organizations that are fighting to spread awareness about the situation.But there’s at least one organization out there that’s actively trying to change things. A new campaign called Flash Drives for Freedom is fighting to smuggle media resources and foreign pop culture into North Korea. By providing flash drives loaded with foreign movies and TV shows, the campaign hopes that North Korean citizens will be able to see what the world beyond their borders really looks like.The Human Rights Foundation and nonprofit group Forum 280 are the driving forces behind Flash Drives for Freedom. They collect … [Read more...] about Smuggled into North Korea, your old flash drives could help topple a dictatorship
Over the last couple days, a total of 26 sites in South Korea and the United States—including the White House—have been targeted by a denial-of-service attack designed to prevent users from accessing the sites, at times effectively taking the sites offline. Now South Korea’s National Intelligence Service has said the attacks are the work of an organization or state—quite possibly North Korea. What makes the attacks unusual is that they’ve been effective for a comparatively long period of time, and, while South Korea is known for being one of the world’s most-wired nations, North Korea’s impoverished state isn’t generally considered a hotbed of cyber-warfare expertise. Now, however, South Korean intelligence apparently believes North Korea has been ramping up its online attack capability. The denial of service attacks come immediately after North Korea fired seven ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on July 4, rapidly … [Read more...] about North Korea Behind Attack on South Korea, U.S. Sites?
North Korea’s successful launch of a weather satellite on Wednesday has sparked new concerns that the threat posed by the country is greater than previously believed. Many of also discussed whether the launch marks a breach of United Nations sanctions imposed upon the state to prevent its development of nuclear and missile-based technologies.A rocket was successfully launched Wednesday at 1 a.m. GMT, with North Korean news sources reporting that the launch was intended to put a new weather satellite into orbit (It reportedly succeeded in that aim). “The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday,” the Korean Central News Agency, the state’s official mouthpiece, told viewers, adding that “the satellite entered its preset orbit.” The Unha-3 rocket is estimated to have a range of approximately 10,000 kilometers, or roughly 6,213 miles – … [Read more...] about North Korea successfully launches rocket with enough range to reach Los Angeles
Those brave and rich enough to enter the limited world of North Korean tourism will be glad to know that mobile operator Koryolink has opened its data services to foreigners visiting the totalitarian country. Yep, this means you’ll be able to use your smartphones and tablets to browse the Web in the country. While local North Koreans have a narrow access to Internet due to government restrictions, it didn’t take long for visitors to capture the scenes in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, and broadcast the images over Instagram.The photos come from Associated Press reporter Jean H. Lee who is currently in the country and can readily tweet and post Instagram photos via Koryolink’s service. In one photo, Lee published an image of a sign regarding nuclear tests, while another photo highlights the city skyline at night. Perhaps even more disturbing is a photo of a postcard for sale that depicts a fist punching down on a rocket with a shredded American flag. Lee … [Read more...] about First few glimpses of North Korea via Instagram
South Korea’s main spy agency told lawmakers that the North’s Ministry of Post and Telecommunications uses the IP address — the Web equivalent of a street address or phone number — that triggered the Web attacks, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported.The North’s ministry leased the IP address from China, the report said, citing unidentified lawmakers briefed Thursday by the head of South Korea’s main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service.The spy agency declined to confirm the report. Comments from legislators on the parliamentary intelligence committee were not immediately available.The July attacks, in which floods of computers tried to connect to a single Web site at the same time to overwhelm the server, caused outages on prominent government-run sites in both countries. Affected sites include those of the White House and the South’s presidential Blue House.North Korea was immediately suspected of involvement in the attacks but there … [Read more...] about North Korea Responsible for July Cyber Attacks
Informatics The North launched its first and only satellite in 2012. The claim that it is working on another, made in an interview last week with an AP Television crew in Pyongyang, comes amid a flurry of attention to the country's fledgling space agency, including a visit by leader Kim Jong Un to a new satellite control center that was repeatedly broadcast on North Korean TV early last month."We are developing a more advanced Earth observation satellite and when it's complete, before launching it, we will inform international organizations and other countries," Paek Chang Ho, vice director of the scientific research and development department of the North's space agency, said in the interview.Paek did not provide further details of what the satellite will do, how close it is to completion, when development began or when the next launch might be.Speculation the North may be planning a rocket launch to mark the 70th anniversary this October of the ruling Korean Workers Party heated up … [Read more...] about North Korea Developing New Satellite, Defends Space Program
The visit to North Korea this week by a team led by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has stirred up controversy.The U.S. State Department has criticized the move, while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has described Richardson and Schmidt as "useful idiots".McCain's statement has drawn fire from readers of an article on the visit published in the Independent.Meanwhile, in a move that may further inflame the U.S. government, North Korea has claimed that the delegation paid tribute to Pyongyang's late leaders, Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, the Telegraph reported.There are reportedly nine people in the group. They apparently include Richardson's daughter, Sophie, and Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank.The visit is not official but a private humanitarian mission, Richardson and Schmidt have said.It's been reported that Schmidt's interested in the social aspects of the North Korean economy.Both Richardson and Schmidt were well aware of U.S. … [Read more...] about Schmidt’s Visit May Help Open Up North Korea
When we have a hostile country regularly lobbing missiles into the ocean with the stated objective of transforming a U.S. state into a radioactive cloud, we have a problem. One "oops" and we could suddenly become a 49-state nation again -- and that is only if we forget the issues with fallout and the potential for a nuclear winter (granted, that could be good news for the global warming folks).However, the approaches to cutting the legs out from under North Korea largely have been in-the-box thinking: economic sanctions that require China's cooperation (and aren't working); military and assassination options that would trigger retaliation that likely would result in a lot of us glowing at night; and revolution efforts that have little or no chance of succeeding.Still, there are companies that have been working on technologies that effectively could contain North Korea's missiles and turn their leader into more of a vocal than a physical problem. Since I'm on the West Coast and … [Read more...] about OPINION Could Tech Nerf North Korea?