Google adds directions to Google Maps for North Korea’s empty roads

29 May 2014

While very few people get to enter the secretive Asian state of North Korea, Google is continuing to add more information to Google Maps on the country with the addition of driving directions.

Despite the fact that most North Koreans cannot afford a car or even the petrol to power it, Google is making a statement that no country can escape its satellite mapping technology as those who can get access to the country can now figure out how to get from Pyongyang to Paekam.

However, if you attempt to enter a route from Pyongyang to the South Korean capital of Seoul, it will tell the user that they can’t calculate the route, perhaps because they don’t want to mention the fact that anyone attempting to cross the border would be shot on-site.

North Korea

Getting directions from Pyongyang to Seoul might prove tricky.

Initially discovered by North Korea Tech, Google have, over the last number of years, been gradually turning the country’s roads and map details from a greyed-out country into one whose main routes of navigation and cityscapes are available online to everyone.

Unsurprisingly, many of the new features that Google have introduced to Maps in recent years, such as the addition of public transport timetables, there are no such extras in North Korea’s maps as they would have no access to that information.

Google had previously said in January 2013 about their expansion of maps into North Korea: “We encourage people from around the world to continue helping us improve the quality of these maps for everyone with Google Map Maker. From this point forward, any further approved updates to the North Korean maps in Google Map Maker will also appear on Google Maps.”

Pyongyang image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic