Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kim Jong-un's Secret Escape Plan

Pyongyang has one of the deepest subway systems in the world. It dives as much as 360 feet (110 meters) beneath the earth. And like many subways in national capitals, there are rumors of secret train lines that stand ready to spirit the country's elite to safety in the event of war or revolt. North Korea applied much of what it learned from the Soviet Union when it comes to protecting the leadership: from secret subway lines, to tunnels that run for miles connecting various palaces and government buildings, and even an alleged one that extends all the way to China!

There are special runways, helipads, and train stations that allow the Kims to travel their country in luxury and safety (and without having to wait in line for hours like the average peasant). These "No. 1" train stations are well known and easily identifiable, and even the special runways can be found with little effort (including the new ones that keep popping up), but it can be difficult to find tunnels via satellite. It's even more difficult to verify the rumors about secret underground escape routes.

There is an arc of natural hills that lie north of downtown Pyongyang, and each of them is covered with military bases, intelligence buildings, artillery sites, etc., but one of them is special. Located next to the Ministry of Armed Forces District, a hardened, partially underground heliport reveals itself. Its exact coordinates are 39.0633°, 125.7336°, and since I haven't seen any (ANY) information about it, I thought it would be a good idea to share what I know.


It's within a mile of four known metro stations, adjacent to the West Pyongyang Train Station, and near a main arterial highway. You can use all three modes of transportation to rapidly go from Pyongyang's secured government quarter to the Military District. And if there are secret tunnel connections, Kim Jong-un could make the trip without fear of being blown up. It's also only 4 miles (6.4 km) away from the newly modernized elite heliport which is used by Kim and the regime's top dogs, and 10 miles (16 km) south of Pyongyang Int'l Airport (which doubles as the home of North Korea's version of Air Force One).

This secret "get out" heliport is not directly connected to the Military District above ground. In fact, a multilayered fence divides the two areas, however, a tunnel exits near a villa that goes into the hill and could theoretically connect the two areas, which are less than 500 meters apart.

Google Earth/DigitalGlobe image clearly showing the tunnel entrance and villa. Dated May 7, 2013.

Based on satellite imagery, the heliport and associated buildings was under construction in June 2000 and was completed by November 2000.

Here is a Google Earth image from June 12, 2000 showing the construction process.


This one shows the completed work on Nov. 5, 2000.


The area surrounding the heliport also underwent drastic changes over a number of years. Below is an image of the area on Nov. 5, 2000.


After several years of work, the area had been completely changed. Most of the work was completed by the end of 2006.


More recent activity was seen in 2013, when one of the hardened hangars was demolished following what appears to have been a collapse. The apparent collapse occurred at the start of 2013 and the cleanup work seems to have been completed by the end of the year.


While helicopters haven't been seen in any public access satellite images, the protective hangar doors have been seen opened in several images. One such time was May 10, 2016.


In September 2016, what looks to be the scorch marks from a fire or explosion can be seen on the left landing pad. On the Google Earth image dated Aug. 27, 2016, an unidentified object or mound of material can be seen on the landing pad. By the Sept. 23 image, a large blackened area can been seen, indicative of a fire or explosion.


While I don't know if the object/mound in the first image is actually related to the explosion, the fact it was there soon before is worth mentioning. The burnt area hasn't been repaired as of April 22, 2017.

Trying to figure out where Kim Jong-un could go without knowing what kind of helicopters are available here is a bit of a guessing game, but if we assume they're one of the known helicopter types North Korea has (such as the Mi-8 Hip, or Mi-2 Hoplite), he could easily reach 270-300 miles (434-482 km) before needing to refuel. That range places nearly every other airport, palace, and key military base in North Korea within reach. It would also enable an emergency flight to China.

What exactly goes on at this site or where Kim Jong-un could ultimately end up if he had to flee, can only be a matter of speculation (for now), but it's obvious the regime has taken great steps over the years toward protecting itself.


--Jacob Bogle, May 24, 2017
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

History of Americans Detained by North Korea

Otto Warmbier (left) and Kim Dong Chul (right), both are Americans currently in jail. 
Image source: Washington Times.

Since 1999 there have been 16 US citizens detained by North Korea. Of those, 9 have been Korean-Americans, and all but one have been detained since 2009 - the same year the Six-Party Talks broke down. At least three were Christian missionaries and a further two were associated with Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), which was founded by evangelical Christians. The most recent detainees are Kim Sang-duk (arrested on April 21, 2017) and Kim Hak-song (arrested on May 7, 2017). Their arrests mean that there are now four Americans being held in North Korea. The other two are Otto Warmbier and Kim Dong Chul. This is the second time that there have been four detained Americans at once.

In a minority of cases, those arrested committed what would be considered an actual crime by the rest of the world. One such case is that of Otto Warmbier, who tried to steal a propaganda sign. However, I doubt many would think his 15-year prison sentence is acceptable. In most cases, there doesn't seem to have been any internationally acknowledged crimes that were committed.

Since the United States doesn't have diplomatic relations with North Korea, American's can't travel there directly and so must go through either China or another country first. And because the US State Department doesn't have the ability to track who visits the DPRK, there are no firm numbers on how many Americans make the expensive trip to the "Hermit Kingdom". It is estimated that 3,000-4,000 Westerners visit each year and that a few hundred of those are Americans. This makes a person's overall risk of being arrested fairly low, but it's definitely is a risk.

It's important to note that Americans aren't the only nationality to be targeted, but outside of the kidnappings of  South Koreans and Japanese over the decades, Americans make up the bulk of persons being detained post-1953. Outside of legitimate crimes, the reasoning behind North Korea's actions isn't exactly known. Having high-ranking American officials (current and former) involved in the release of detainees helps to confer some level of legitimacy on the North Korean regime. The actions can also be seen as a "safe" way to exercise some manner of strength against the United States, and it provides a domestic propaganda win - "our country is strong and we won't let the imperialist Americans harm our 'supreme dignity' ".

For those who do end up behind bars, the experience is nightmarish. In May, Pyongyang said it had a right to "ruthlessly punish" the Americans it detains, and stories of hard labor, malnourishment, beatings, and lack of proper healthcare are common to many who have been behind bars. However, their treatment doesn't appear to be as bad as those sent to "total control" camps within North Korea's expansive gulag system. It's logical to conclude that keeping Americans alive is more beneficial to the regime than the lives of thousands of North Koreans the government allows to languish to death each year.

Here's some additional information about the history of US citizens who have been held by North Korea.
  • The following years saw more than one American detained: 2009 (3), 2010 (2), 2014 (3), 2015 (2), and 2017 (2). As mentioned, 2009 was the year diplomatic talks to halt their nuclear program broke down, 2014 saw a series of medium-range ballistic missile launches, and 2017 has also seen a number of various missile launches as well as preparations for another nuclear test.
  • The two main "target" demographics are Korean-Americans and Christians. Korean-Americans are easy to label as spies, and it's easy to charge Christians with trying to overthrow the regime (after all, God is the only King, and Kim Jong-un can be the only god). 
  • The shortest period of detention was the 'catch and release' of Sandra Sun, which all occurred on April 8, 2015. She was charged with "harming the dignity of the supreme leadership, trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system", but was released the same day. The longest time was the two years Kenneth Bae served in North Korean prison (Nov. 3, 2012- Nov. 8, 2015). Bae, a Korean-American and a missionary was charged with illegal religious activities. 
  • Five Americans were charged with illegally entering the country, while six were charged with either espionage, "hostile acts", or crimes against the state. 


--Jacob Bogle, 5/17/2017
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wonchong Border Crossing Nears Completion

The Wonchong North Korea-China border crossing is one of two crossings in Rason (Rajin) and one of 13 official crossing points either by road or rail with China.

In a long and slow process that has been occurring since at least 2009, the border crossing's snail-paced expansion seems to be nearing completion. The enlargement of the this border crossing comes during a period in which North Korea has begun work on a new crossing and on upgrading two others. The bridge at the Manpo crossing was completed in 2012. Additionally, despite spending $350 million, construction of the New Yalu River Bridge, a large suspension bridge between Dandong, China and Sinuiju, North Korea has stalled.

The near completion (or full completion, as the most recent satellite image is from 2016) of the border crossing comes at a time of heightened tensions with China. China is North Korea's main trading partner, accounting for 60-70% of all imports and exports. Coal, being the single largest North Korean commodity has been used by the international community as one of the main economic pressure points to get North Korea to stop their nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs. Since China is their main trading partner, China has held the responsibility for the bulk of sanctions regarding trade. Giving Wonchong added relevance, the crossing is near the city of Undok which is where the coal-rich 'June 13 Coal Field' is located. I would discuss the complicated history of DPRK-China trade relations (particularly with regards to coal), but you can find ample information on that in these two articles: The Myth of China's Coal Imports and China's 'Ban' on North Korean Coal Isn't the Tough Stance it Seems.

I wanted to bring up the trade issue because the continued work on border crossings tell a story of anticipated continued and expanded trade. While certain sectors like coal may see fluctuations, trade in consumer goods for North Korea's newly-minted middle class has meant a flood of Chinese products entering the North Korean marketplace. Medicinal herbs, trade in metals, foodstuffs, and other products have also risen sharply in the past decade. The long-term implications of all of this are likely to result in the weakening of the Monolithic Ideological and socialist regime. For now, construction continues.

One last bit of interesting information, the Wonchong crossing was the site of Christian Missionary Kenneth Bae's arrest in 2012. In April 2013 Bae was sentenced to 15-years imprisonment. After failing health (hard labor and starvation conditions tends to break people down) and negotiations, Bae, along with another American prisoner Matthew Miller, was released on Nov. 8, 2014.

Click images for larger view.

Wonchong Border Crossing as seen in 2010.

Crossing on Sept. 15, 2013 showing some new construction. 

The new bridge under construction can be seen by Sept. 6, 2015 as well as additional construction.

Work on the bridge deck is underway as of March 19, 2016. General construction continues as well.



--Jacob Bogle, April 14, 2017

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Recovery Moves Along After 2016 Floods

Between August and September 2016, floods ravaged the northern reaches of North Korea. As I wrote about in December, satellite images showed us the devastation caused by these floods which affected over half a million people.

I'd like to now discuss the satellite images showing the recovery process. These images taken on October 25, 2016, focus on the hard-hit city of Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province.

Image of the flood damage along the river. Google Earth, 9/14/16.

Dyke reconstruction work. Google Earth, 10/25/16.

Reporting coming out of North Korea claim that over a kilometer of dykes has been fully repaired.

In this next image we see new housing being constructed.

Image source: Google Earth, 10/25/16.

This is the DPRK/China border crossing. It received only minor damage but you can see repair efforts under way as well as trucks coming in from China with relief and construction supplies.
The repair of this border crossing comes after North Korea constructed a new border crossing in Rason (which will be the subject of my next post).

Image source: Google Earth, 10/25/16.

Annual floods cause a fair amount of destruction and death in North Korea, but the northern provinces are often the most badly hit. UNICEF sent aid (including $1 million from the US) to help children and families affected by last year's flood.

-- Jacob Bogle, 4/2/2017
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Terrorism and the Future of North Korea at the United Nations

Image source: Outside the Beltway

After Kim Jong-nam’s assassination with VX nerve agent by emissaries of North Korea in Malaysia on February 13, 2017, calls went up in the United States to have the country re-listed as a state sponsor of terror, and calls from South Korea to have their northern cousins suspended from the United Nations were also registered. But how likely is either scenario?

North Korea was placed on the US terror list in 1988, following the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 in 1987 which killed 115 people. The country was removed from the list twenty years later in 2008 by president George W. Bush after appearing to satisfy the demands of a nuclear agreement based on the Six Party Talks. And while North Korea has since violated many nuclear terms and agreements, their last "official" act of international terrorism remains the 1987 bombing. That is, until the death of Kim Jong-nam.

What makes Kim Jong-nam’s death more than a simple case of a country assassinating one of its own citizens, is the fact that he was killed in a foreign country and that he was ostensibly under the protection of China – which is also North Korea’s main patron. Jong-nam had been in a state of quasi-exile ever since trying to visit Tokyo Disneyland with a fake Dominican Republic passport in 2001. His main residence since that time had been Macau. Despite no longer holding any official titles, it is alleged that he had a role in maintaining the Kim family slush fund (operated via Office 39), which holds an estimated $5 billion. Kim Jong-un’s motivation for having his half-brother killed are unknown, but it could be for any number of reasons – from coup rumors, to being displeased with public statements Kim Jong-nam had made, to even mismanagement of funds (if he was indeed involved).

Since there is no single supreme definition the United States works with, it could be difficult pin the label "terrorism" onto the incident. The US has several definitions of what constitutes terrorism and what might constitute a state sponsoring terrorism, and these legal standards vary across agencies and have changed over time. However, the use of VX, the deadliest nerve agent known, changes the game. For some background, Section 3 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 says:

"It is the policy of the United States to use export controls to encourage other countries to take immediate steps to prevent the use of their territories or resources to aid, encourage, or give sanctuary to those persons involved in directing, supporting, or participating in acts of international terrorism."

This is where the use of VX becomes very important. VX is classified as a weapon of mass destruction and is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 (to which North Korea is not party to). The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines “terrorist activity” at Section 212(a)(3)(B)(iii):

(IV) An assassination.
(V) The use of any—
                                                                            (a) biological agent, chemical agent, or nuclear                                                                                                               weapon or device,

Additionally, since definitions of "international terrorism" obviously include the activities being carried in other countries, the involvement of a multinational force of conspirators to accomplish the killing (the two women accused of wiping Jong-nam’s face with the nerve agent are from Malaysia and Vietnam), lends weight to the argument that North Korea should be re-listed. However, one possible impediment to this is the fact that many of the standards require that terrorism have a political motive. While there are many theories, there's no smoking gun pointing to a direct political motive to kill Kim Jong-nam. That said, when you consider North Korea's extensive arms trade, including to countries like Syria and Iran (both of which are currently on the list), the case to re-list can be enhanced.

Complicating matters, though, is America’s need to bring North Korea to heel when it comes to the nuclear question, which is America’s key concern and colors every dealing with the country. Re-listing North Korea would result in even greater economic pressures on the state. While this may sound positive, the long-term trend is that whenever North Korea gets backed into a corner, they either strike out in retaliation or proceed with their plans clandestinely. Kim Jong-un has shown no sign of slowing down the nuclear program he inherited and having his regime once again labeled a state sponsor of terrorism is likely to have the opposite wanted effect. Kim Jong-il paid close attention to the destinies of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Gaddafi disarmed Libya of WMDs and was overthrown with the help of the West regardless. Likewise, Saddam Hussein, despite lacking verifiable WMDs, made up part of the Axis of Evil and had his country invaded. No doubt Kim Jong-un has learned the lesson of despots as his father did – disarmament alone is no guarantee of safety.

While the likelihood of North Korea ending back up as a state sponsor of terror is at least 50/50, if history is a guide, the real world long-term results aren't likely to be the desired results.


That takes us to the possibility of having North Korea suspended from the United Nations.
Such an act has never occurred and would require the UN Security Council to recommend the action, from where it would then be approved or disapproved by the General Assembly. As mentioned, North Korea’s last confirmed act of international terrorism was in 1987. Prior to that, North Korea engaged in a number of terrorist activities and supported terrorist groups like the Japanese Red Army. The North’s activities were carried out all around the Asia-Pacific region.

In 1968 North Korean commandos infiltrated South Korea and tried to assassinate then president Park Chung-hee after they raided the Blue House (the South Korean equivalent of the White House). Unsuccessful and undaunted, a second assassination attempt was carried out in 1983. The 1983 attack occurred in Rangoon, Burma when North Korean agents bombed a wreath laying ceremony at which the South Korean president, Chun Doo-hwan, was in attendance. The attack resulted in 67 casualties, including the death of four top-ranking South Korean officials and 17 others.

Apart from the Korean Air Flight 858 bombing in 1987, North Korea had previously hijacked Korean Air Lines YS-11 in 1969. The hijacking ended without any casualties, though, North Korea refused to release eleven of the crew and passengers. To this day their ultimate fates are unknown.
None of these events led to North Korea being suspended from the United Nations. Nor did the killing of two United States Army officers with axes along the DMZ in 1976, or the naval clashes near Yeonpyong Island in 1999 and 2002, or the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan in 2010, or the other 200 plus violations of the 1953 Armistice Agreement by North Korea.


The fact is, so long as China (which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council) remains an ally of North Korea, despite whatever troubles may exist between them, China will likely not allow North Korea to be suspended. China, and to some extent Russia, have opposed many would be actions against North Korea by the international community. North Korea continues to serve as a useful buffer state between China and a liberal South Korea (with their entrenched military alliance with the United States) - with their new THAAD missile defense system. North Korea has also shown itself more than capable of developing ballistic and nuclear technology domestically, and cutting them off from all international associations and possible avenues of rapprochement would only push their backs against the wall even further. As mentioned earlier, each time North Korea has been increasingly isolated they have lashed out, but, in the past, there also remained ways for them to reach out and seek de-escalation (which did occur to varying degrees).

Unilateral actions by other countries can have an effect, although such actions by countries long opposed to the North Korean regime are having diminishing returns. Malaysia has taken steps to show their displeasure with the assassination like expelling North Korea’s ambassador Kang Chol, and rescinding the ability of North Korean citizens to travel to Malaysia without a visa. However, China remains the key figure in any attempt at punishing North Korea or affecting change outside of reigniting war.

Recently, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during his visit to China that, every option was on the table, including military options, regarding North Korea. China of course tried to play both sides of the fence and suggested we be "cool headed". An all out war is no real option, but the fact remains that the last 20+ years of "cool headed" diplomacy hasn't stopped their nuclear or ballistic missile programs, or led to a more open DPRK. Despite many efforts, their economy remains in tatters and millions still go hungry. China's insistence that we calm down while offering to help in any way possible to relieve tensions on the Korean Peninsula, belies the fact that China has a long history of saying one thing while doing another. China has allowed North Korea to exploit loopholes in UN resolutions to acquire luxury goods and foreign currency (which often ends up in the hands of the military), and even China's latest unilateral action against North Korea - the banning of North Korean coal imports - must be taken with a grain of salt.

Without doubt, North Korea has been squeezed. But we have watched a slow-motion multi-decade catastrophe unfold before our very eyes while we have tried to placate North Korea through the misguided notion that all they want is food and they'll give up their bombs for it. Not only does North Korea have nuclear weapons (and it's time we acknowledge they're a nuclear weapons state instead of pretending they're not), they're on the verge of having a credible first strike capability. Additionally, not only do they have a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, we now know they're not afraid to use them. We are edging ever closer to a point of absolutely no return. Until China is really on-board, any international actions against North Korea will be blunted.

--Jacob Bogle, 3/18/17
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Additional Reading
Arsenal of Terror: North Korea, State Sponsor of Terrorism, by Joshua Stanton

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Phase II Map Completed


One year ago today I published Phase I of my #AccessDPRK Mapping Project. I began mapping North Korea in late 2012, little did I know how much of an effort it would take or how expansive a map would result from the over 2,500 hours of work. I won't recount why I started, you can read more about that here, but I do want to stress that this map has become the largest and most comprehensive map of North Korea publicly available, by far.

The Google Earth file contains 53,722 placemarks covering three main areas of interest: the military, monuments, and domestic/economic sites. There are 9,567 military sites, 8,859 monument markers representing 9,879 individual monuments, and 35,296 domestic sites. Because I started mapping after I discovered Curtis Melvin's map and because I updated and incorporated his North Korea Uncovered into mine, I would like to say that of the 53,722 places, 8,430 of them came from North Korea Uncovered.

The file is divided according to each province and each province is divided into those three main areas (some have an extra division). Those three divisions are further sub-divided into item-specific folders (anti-aircraft artillery, dams, palaces, etc.). Typically the military division has around 20 folders and the domestic division has around 40. The monument division is just a single folder containing all of the monuments in its respective province. There is also an "Additional Items" folder that has things like all the country's airports and a list of mountains. And, there is a file dedicated to the De-Militarized Zone with 1,401 places marked.

Because of the size of the KMZ file (4.76 MB - which is huge in Google Earth terms), don't try to view the whole thing at once. Expand the file and pick out which province you'd like to review and then what item folders you want. There are many ways to explore the information within, just take a little time to get used to the layout so you don't accidentally crash Google Earth (although, most modern computers can handle having the entire file open, it may be sluggish).

The next part of #AccessDPRK is to create a series of topic-specific files. For example, the country's electrical grid. This will allow those with more narrow interests to view the information they want without the need to dig through mountains of data. However, there is no firm time set for me to build and publish those maps. After working on this for so long, I'm in the mood to take things more slowly now.

Map showing every monument in North Korea. Click for larger view (opens in new window).

To download the file directly, click this link. (File is hosted on a free Google site that I use to hold various GE files). To view the host site, click here.

Below is a breakdown of the number of items per province and other main folders. As soon as I can I will also add some graphics showing how many of each item there are (like the fact there's active 1,539 anti-aircraft artillery batteries).


Phase II Complete Item Counts - March 5, 2017

Chagang Province = 2,695
   Military: 162
   Monument: 544 markers rep. 585 monuments
   Domestic: 1,989

Kangwon Province = 4,443
   Military: 1,131
   Monument: 762 markers rep. 928 monuments
   Domestic: 2,550

N. Hamgyong Province = 4,690
   Military: 450
   Monument: 765 markers rep. 796 monuments
   Domestic: 3,475

S. Hamgyong Province = 6,300
   Military: 627
   Monument: 1,053 markers rep. 1,154 monuments
   Domestic: 4,620

N. Hwanghae Province = 5,833
   Military: 1,347
   Monument: 946 markers rep. 1,100 monuments
   Domestic: 3,540

S. Hwanghae Province = 6,304
   Military: 1,008
   Monument: 1,054 markers rep. 1,146 monuments
   Domestic: 4,242

N. Pyongan Province = 5,581
   Military: 716
   Monument: 1,049 markers rep. 1,145 monuments
   Domestic: 3,816

S. Pyongan Province = 7,002
   Military: 1,134
   Monument: 1,205 markers rep. 1,325 monuments
   Domestic: 4,663

Pyongyang District = 6,150
   Military: 1,129
   Monument: 1,049 markers rep. 1,230 monuments
   Water supply: 290
   Domestic: 3,682

Rason District = 531
   Military: 42
   Monument: 94 markers rep. 99 monuments
   Domestic: 395

Ryanggang Province = 2,183 total
   Military: 95
   Monument: 338 markers rep. 371 monuments
   Domestic: 1,626
   Mt. Paektu: 126 - inc. 2 duplicates not inc. in counts elsewhere

DMZ-area Road Blocks: 198
DMZ: 1,401 + 394 miles of fence
Tall Mountains: 245
Airports: 127 (108 runways and 19 waypoints)
UN Joint Security Area: 5
Border Crossings: 24
Large intersections: 10


**********Grand Totals**********
Grand Total: 53,722 markers
   Military: 8,201 + DMZ/RBs/Airports = 9,567
   Monuments: 8,859 markers  representing 9,879 monuments
   Domestic (inc. Border/Insersections/Mts) = 35,296


--Jacob Bogle, 3/5/17
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Friday, January 27, 2017

What's The Point?

I have been talking about North Korea and mapping the country for over four years now, and a question people ask me fairly often is, 'what's the point?' My normal answers tend to revolve around my own inherent interest in the country and in mapping, however, there is a far more concrete value to this endeavor than simply satiating my curiosity.

North Korea is more than just some rouge state hellbent on gaining nuclear weapons. It's a dynamic country with 25 million people, all of whom share a 2,100 year history with 50 million of their southern brethren. And, yes, they also have a deep military state that is always seeking ways to hide their more dangerous activities. And because of all of this, things change - and much remains unknown. Current collections of nation-wide data are years out of date and resources like Google Maps are often woefully inadequate.

Because their military activities tend to get the outside world to pay attention more than anything, I think the best example of the benefits of the #AccessDPRK Mapping Project is to show how some of these military areas have drastically changed over the last decade.

This image shows each of the 318 active anti-aircraft artillery batteries in Pyongyang.


And this shows each of the 108 decommissioned artillery batteries in the area.


Because of the reliance on older maps and information, just about every crowd-sourced mapping site (Wikimapia, Openstreet, etc) has these inactive places marked. Several of them have been completely demolished and turned into farm land, but exists on maps as artillery sites!

It's not just Pyongyang. I have located 386 decommissioned artillery sites all over North Korea, many of them, unfortunately, are on maps. Furthermore, of the 1,358 known active sites, some 500 aren't on any map.

On the domestic side, hundreds of additional dams and hydroelectric power stations can be accounted for. Here are some in Chagang Province:


And speaking of the shared history of Korea, #AccessDPRK now has 346 ancient sites mapped - an increase of 119 new places found since my article on the subject back in February 2016. As far as I have been able to find, at least half of these sites aren't on any maps available online (or anywhere else that I can find). This doesn't include hundreds of centuries old burial mounds and tombs either.


Furthermore, the project will also allow people to see some of the tremendous natural changes that have occurred, like an enormous landslide in the ecologically important Mt. Chilbo National Park, or the damage done in recent flooding.

It would be difficult to detail every value of a map with over 50,000 places marked, but I hope I've adequately expressed the point of this effort.


--Jacob Bogle 1/27/17