Why Is North Korea Dark On Google Maps

Introduction: Google Maps is the most popular online mapping service in the world, used by millions of web users to access geographic information. Recently, viewers noticed that North Korea appeared as a blank space on Google Maps – a black void threatening to obscure some of the country’s most vital features. Most other countries are represented in detail, raising questions about why North Korea’s information is not available.

Google Maps was developed through collaborations with governments, geographic organizations and local businesses. Along with this extensive network and collection of maps, Google Maps offers data and statistics to help users better understand areas of the world. These listings reveal the geography and infrastructure of countries, but North Korea’s page is almost completely empty.

The opacity and obscurity of North Korea on Google Maps can be attributed to the country’s restricted borders and limited information availability. Due to a lack of public partnership with Google, North Korea has been unable to send relevant data or update the country’s map. Additionally, the country’s limited infrastructure has left Google unable to gather information on the milieu.

In order to obtain accurate and comprehensive data, the search engine must partner with local sources and governments. For example, in order for Google to provide comprehensive maps of the United States or the United Kingdom, the company must partner with the respective country’s governments. For the same reason, a lack of cooperation from the North Korean government on Google Maps could be the cause of the country’s mysterious black void.

Moreover, with North Korea’s tightening of censorship in recent years, there has been an increasing restriction of international travel and content uploads in the country, making it difficult for Google to obtain necessary information. For example, when a user goes to Google Maps, they can search for businesses in the country and often find reviews, photos, and more, but North Korea’s reviews are mostly blocked or non-existent.

Despite its opacity, there is some data available on Google Maps about North Korea. For example, users can access information about the country’s military bases, airports and nuclear test sites, but other vital information, such as essential services, are not readily available.

Cooperation Needed

Despite years of careful observation from various countries’ intelligence agencies, the area on Google Maps labeled “North Korea” is still largely a mystery. Google relies heavily on contacts in the countries in which it builds its mapping projects, but the government-controlled media in North Korea is not very forthcoming in providing the data that Google needs to accurately measure the country.

Though North Korea has made efforts to be more welcoming to foreign visitors, the government still controls most aspects of its citizens’ lives, including travel and access to technology. This has made it difficult for Google to obtain information from the country on its mapping project.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has tried to enter the North Korean market by offering training and digital marketing to small businesses, but to no avail. Without permission from the North Korean government to access necessary data, Google Maps remains a no-go zone for the search engine.

However, there have been efforts and initiatives from organizations such as The Human Rights Foundation that have been trying to help Google get access to the missing data about North Korea by having human rights activists share citizen-generated maps. They plan to build a complete composite of the country that Google can rely on to create a comprehensive, highly detailed representation of North Korea.

Limitations of Google Maps

Google Maps is limited by both the availability of data and the geographic limitations of its mapping technology. North Korea, in particular, has very little land to cover and few public roads, so the amount of data available to Google is relatively limited.

Google Maps’ Maps Engine Lite also restricts the amount of data that can be added, making it unlikely that Google can create an accurate North Korea map. Despite all of this, satellite imagery technologies and other advanced software, including Mapping for Good, have made considerable progress in creating a more detailed view of North Korea.

Organizations have flown aircrafts over the reclusive state to get satellite imagery, and Google’s human rights activists have helped by collecting detailed information on North Korean cities, roads, and general population locations. With the aid of these technologies and initiatives, Google Maps is now able to provide more detailed images of North Korea.


It is not clear why one of the world’s most isolated countries still remains mostly absent from Google Maps, but despite the difficulties, satellite imagery and other data-collection services have made considerable progress in filling in the black void of North Korea on the search engine. With backing from organizations, human rights activists and businesses, there may still be hope that Google Maps can provide a detailed picture of this crucial, though mysterious country.

Political Implications

Google Maps has been used for more than just navigating to specific locations; it has been used to monitor political uprisings, track political activities and even give insights into infrastructure. The opacity of North Korea on Google Maps has prevented citizens from having access to these important insights, yet, at the same time, has prevented hostile countries from gathering intel about the nation.

The opacity of North Korea on Google Maps has enabled the state to manipulate image data by obscuring military bases, nuclear sites and other ‘sensitive’ locations completely. North Korea’s government can take advantage of the country’s current opacity, allowing them to prevent hostilities and protect strategic locations.

The opacity of North Korea on Google Maps is a complex issue. On one hand, the opacity prevents countries from collecting intel and inciting potential hostilities with the nation. On the other hand, the opacity hinders locals from receiving vital information which can influence their daily lives. Adverse impacts resulting from the opacity of North Korea on Google Maps may be unavoidable due to North Korea’s restrictions on access and lack of data sharing.

Censorship Effects

Censorship in North Korea is one of the key causes behind the opacity on Google Maps. The government keeps tight control over its citizens, restricting their access to certain information, both at home and abroad. Google Maps has been impacted by this level of monitoring, providing only limited insights into the country’s geography.

This type of censorship makes it difficult for Google to collect relevant data, which can cause errors or incomplete information on Google Maps. The North Korean government also censors images and information shared by visitors, restricting what is publicly available on the search engine. Without access to citizen-generated data, Google Maps relies heavily on official sources, which often access outdated information or incomplete data.

Citizens of the country are affected by this censorship, since they are not able to make use of accurate maps and travel information. The opacity on Google Maps means that they are unable to get updated directions or access services that are available in more accessible countries. From a human rights perspective, North Korea’s strict censorship of information on Google Maps has serious implications.

Implications For Travelers

The lack of information available on Google Maps can make it difficult for both locals and travelers to understand the landscape of North Korea. For those traveling to the country, the opacity of North Korea on Google Maps can be extremely inconvenient, as it can make it difficult for travelers to accurately plan their trip. Common activities such as driving, ordering items online, or locating places, as well as navigating airports, can all be impacted by the lack of updated mapping data.

For those traveling to North Korea, the opacity of the country on Google Maps can make the travel experience more difficult. With limited access to maps and data, travelers may not be able to find the best routes and may struggle to access more remote locations. Additionally, the opacity of North Korea on Google Maps can make it difficult for travelers to book hotels, navigate to attractions and plan their journey more accurately and efficiently.

Though Google Maps and other data services have made considerable progress in building a more detailed picture of North Korea, the opacity of the country on the search engine remains a challenge. The limited availability of data, imperfect technologies and the country’s strict censorship all contribute to the obscurity of North Korea on the search engine.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

Leave a Comment