Tuesday, January 3, 2023

AccessDPRK in 2022

This last year was a great one for AccessDPRK, and thanks to your continued readership and for the support of Patreon backers, 2023 has some very cool things in store.

There were two main events for the AccessDPRK project in 2022. The first is that I completed the series Kim Jong Un's First Decade in Power. Spanning twelve articles written between August 2021 and February 2022, it represents one of the most detailed records of his first decade as leader of North Korea and it was the most ambitious writing project that I've undertaken for the blog.

The other big thing for the year was being featured in an episode of Super Users for VICE World News. The online episode "What North Korea Doesn't Want You To See" was published on September 21 and has since received nearly 4 million views. 

Thanks in part to the video, the blog also received the most annual traffic ever, surpassing 2021 by over 40%. On Twitter, the account gained over 300 new followers and the most popular tweet for the year was introducing the article about North Korea's largest underground facilities which got over 50,000 impressions.

This went on to spur some media attention with reporting in Metro, UNILAD, and The Sun.

With the 14 articles published this year, the blog now contains 156 articles that equal the equivalent of 1,063 pages of material and includes 1,023 images. I have also made public 14 city briefs out of the 36 that have been created so far, and I will continue to publish the rest this year. 

As part of those articles, I was able to review over 1,500 air defense sites and create the most up-to-date map of all of their locations, I detailed the layout of the DMZ and its various fortifications, and I was able to shed some more light on North Korea's large underground facilities as well as archeological sites.

The top 3 most-read articles for 2022 were:

1. The Largest Underground Sites in North Korea

2. Tunnels to Nowhere

3. Phishing for AccessDPRK

Looking to 2023

There are always things left to do and new ideas for the future. As I mentioned last year, I started working on a book and I will continue that this year. I will also keep publishing the existing city briefs, but those were created with the help of a dedicated sponsor and the future of that project is uncertain, but I will address that more when the time comes.

I have ongoing mapping projects for housing, land reclamation, and military land usage. They are rather large projects but I'm hoping to finish at least one of those this year while also maintaining regular posts here. (I perpetually have a list of 15-20 article drafts to work on, so there's always going to be something to share.)

Additionally, since last year I have been assisting Human Rights Watch with a major report that's related to North Korea's anti-pandemic efforts and how they've impacted the economy. The exact publication date hasn't been set but it should be sometime this spring.

Lastly, I have begun to review and update the 2021 map. Whether or not this gets turned into a full-blown new version or simply an occasional update I haven't decided. Regardless, there's been around 4,000 additions, improved categorizations, and other changes made so far. In the end, most of the changes won't involve new places mapped (although there will be plenty), but I'm wanting to focus on its usability and on adding as many relevant details as possible (construction dates, official names, types of equipment, related news stories, etc.) There is no timeline for this, it's just something that I want to start digging my teeth into.


Over the years AccessDPRK has helped alert South Korean authorities to the risk of industrial pollution from North Korea, was the first to detail activity at the Kyo-hwa-so No. 88 prison, created the first detailed surveys of North Korea's gas stations and monument construction under Kim Jong Un, and has kept tract of everything from border control changes to missile bases and market activity. Information from AccessDPRK has also been used in reports from RAND Co., NK News, 38 North, DailyNK, JoongAng Daily, Nikkei, RFA, Asahi Shimbun, UPI, the OECD, and many others. 

Patreon supporters enable me to devote more time to mapping, in depth research, and writing. With support levels ranging from $3 to $20 a month, rewards can include getting article copies before they're published, having locations personally analyzed by me, and even get access to sections of the 2021 Pro Map.

If you're not able to support the project on a monthly basis but would still like to help, you can also help with a one-time $5 donation via Buy Me a Coffee.

I would like to thank my current Patreon supporters: Alex Kleinman, Amanda Oh, Donald Pierce, GreatPoppo, Joel Parish, John Pike, JuneBug, Kbechs87, Russ Johnson, and Squadfan.

For past annual reviews, see 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018.

--Jacob Bogle, 1/3/2023

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