Google Maps Opens Up North Korea

You know technology has come a long way when you read about amateur spies publishing information on the "Hermit Kingdom" of North Korea thanks to Google Maps.

Since its inception after WWII, North Korea has been a virtually closed society. Not much is known about it other than rumour and innuendo that leak out from defectors every now and then.

Now that has changed. Some pain-staking work by US doctoral Curtis Melvin and a few of his mates, has revealed a huge amount of information about the country, which would even make the CIA proud.

Studying Google Map pictures, Melvin and co have discovered a huge amount of things including massive grave sites, which are believed to be the result of a severe famine in the 1990s. Apparently these graves cover whole mountains. Other interesting facts include the infrastructure such as electricity grids (and the fact that some towns don't even have power), labour camps and missile storage facilities. Even more interesting (but hardly surprising) is that the elite in the country live a lavish lifestyle while the rest of the country is in abject poverty – Melvin says they have managed to find palaces and other such luxurious hideaways.

This information is even more important with the country testing a couple of nuclear bombs recently, causing concern even amongst its most vocal supporter, China.

Thanks to technology, not even the recalcitrant Kim Jong-il can keep his agenda fully hidden from the rest of the world. Maybe his next order will be for his scientists to invent some sort of laser beam to shoot satellites out of the heavens!