You Can’t See North Korea From Space

New photos from NASA show the hermit kingdom in almost complete darkness at night.

National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
Feb. 26, 2014, 8:35 a.m.

No, that dark area on the satel­lite photo is not an ocean. It’s North Korea.

One of the easi­est ways of see­ing the wealth dis­par­ity between North and South Korea is by view­ing the coun­tries from space. This photo taken by as­tro­nauts on the In­ter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion shows that North Korea is truly in the dark.

The only bright spot in the coun­try is Py­ongy­ang, which, as of 2008, had a pop­u­la­tion of 2.26 mil­lion people. In a labeled NASA map, you can see that the minor city of Gun­san, South Korea, which has a pop­u­la­tion of 280,000 people, is lit just as much as the much lar­ger North Korean cap­it­al.


Ac­cord­ing to 2011 World Bank fig­ures, South Korea’s per cap­ita power con­sump­tion was 10,162 kilo­watt hours, while North Korea’s was 739 kilo­watt hours.

A video of ISS fly­over of East Asia can be seen here.