Something's Missing in East Asia at Night: North Korea

North Korea Deluminated -

Visually Shocking.
Sadly, Entirely Unsurprising

Well, not a whole lot we can say about North Korea that hasn’t already been said about North Korea. In point of fact, this NASA photo, taken from the International Space Station late last month, summarizes things quite well.

We all know why our isolationist neighbors to the west are the way they are, and we all know how dire certain circumstances there have been and continue to be. But, there’s something a bit more poignant and affecting in seeing it like this and knowing that it’s not a result of super-progressive, eco-friendly energy policy or successfully ameliorating light pollution.

We’ll let NASA do the explaining further:

“Flying over East Asia, an Expedition 38 crew member on the International Space Station took this night image of the Korean Peninsula. Unlike daylight images, city lights at night illustrate dramatically the relative economic importance of cities, as gauged by relative size. In this north-looking view, it is immediately obvious that greater Seoul is a major city and that the port of Gunsan is minor by comparison. There are 25.6 million people in the Seoul metropolitan area-more than half of South Korea's citizens-while Gunsan's population is 280,000. North Korea is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea and China. The darkened land appears as if it were a patch of water joining the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan. The capital city, Pyongyang, appears like a small island, despite a population of 3.26 million (as of 2008). The light emission from Pyongyang is equivalent to the smaller towns in South Korea. Coastlines are often very apparent in night imagery, as shown by South Korea's eastern shoreline. But the coast of North Korea is difficult to detect. These differences are illustrated in per capita power consumption in the two countries, with South Korea at 10,162 kilowatt hours and North Korea at 739 kilowatt hours.”

We love technology, and we hope the people of the DPRK get more soon.

See the original high-res image here. All NASA galleries are here.

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