Google Earth helps put North Korea gulag system on map
Published on Jan 10, 2013 8:25 AM
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt's visit to North Korea this week has been met with sharp criticism and low expectations, but the global Internet search giant indirectly is helping to make history by revealing one of the reclusive country's darkest secrets, say human rights activists.
Google Earth, the company's popular satellite imagery product, may be the last thing Mr Schmidt will want to showcase for his hosts, because it presents a bird's eye view of many things that secretive North Korea wants to keep hidden.
Human rights activists and bloggers have taken a Google program used mostly for recreation, education and marketing and applied it to map a vast system of dozens of prison camps that span North Korea, a country slightly smaller in area than Greece and home to 23 million people.
As many as 250,000 political prisoners and their families toil on starvation rations in the mostly remote mountain camps, according to estimates by international human rights groups.
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