Striking ISS Photo Shows How Dark North Korea is Compared to Its Neighbors


A new photo released by NASA and taken from the International Space Station shows just how dark North Korea really is, and we don’t mean figuratively. Taken on the night of January 30th as the ISS was passing over the Korean Peninsula, a nearly completely blacked-out North Korea jumps out at you, surrounded by its well-lit neighbors.

According to NASA’s description, night photos from space are a great way to gauge a city’s relative economic importance, and the photo seems to back this up. Seoul is practically a beacon, and several major cities in neighboring China shine brightly in the image.

The one place not shining in the least is the entire country of North Korea, where only Pyongyang shows any real signs of life, and even then only just. From NASA’s Earth Observatory website:

It’s a striking reminder of how literally and figuratively dark the country is: Pyongyang, North Korea, a city of 3.26 million, looks about the same size as Gunsan, South Korea, population 280,000. The rest of the DPRK might as well be an extension of the Yellow Sea.

You can read more about the image or check out the high res version over on the EO website by clicking here.

(via ANIMAL)

Image credits: Photograph courtesy of NASA

  • Michael Nemetz

    They must have a wonderful sky at night without the light pollution.

  • Generalissimo Pantalones

    The more lights you have the more you anger the Climate Change God.

  • David Liang

    Wow…that really makes me think about their life there.

  • broberts

    was thinking the exact same thing! Would be great for Astro photography!

  • harumph

    Although I doubt that many would dare to go out after curfew with a camera.

  • Andy Hodapp

    While they might not have any light pollution, they might have a huge amount of particulate pollution and smog. Correct me if I’m wrong but they must have a lot of inefficient coal power plants and such that would outweigh there lack of light pollution.

  • Michael Nemetz

    Maybe, but they also have a lot of wind with the sea at both sides :) And they have nuclear (or nucular ;-) ) underfloor heating.

  • Daz

    damn move that solar panel out of the frame !

  • Carl Meyer

    The excess of electrical generation during nighttime could be used more wisely than polluting the sky by lighting empty streets.

  • Ron

    Think about all those ?%$& car dealerships polluting us with all their agressive lights, grrr!

  • Bill

    Where is Jimmy Fartpants when you need him.
    I would think the peeps in N. Korea just absolutely love the night sky. No annoying global hotness causing electricity.
    Paradise I tell ya, frickin’ pardise!
    Boy oh boy, I wager all the inhabits of N. Korea are slender, not like us fat and well fed western types.
    Just imagine all the photogs out there at night, soaking up and capturing those starry evenings, thank you KimJung Un you worshipful master.

  • R0N

    They do not use electricity that much so those coal power plants do not polute that much..

  • bob

    I doubt anyone even has a camera

  • The Seasoned Avenger

    Everyone comrade collectively shares the darkness for a more fair and just society.

  • James Smith

    You can do it. Photoshop or any other graphics editor. Even Preview on my Mac can do it. I just did. It took me less than a minute, including saving the pic from this site.

    It took longer to write about it than to do it.

  • David C

    Sadly they don’t allow a lens longer than 200mm over there, including telescopes, so the astrophotography options would be a bit limited :(

  • Frank Cairns

    You have missed that bit on the right of the screen you jackass. Do it again and this time don’t make such a mess of it while saying how easy it was when you can barely control a mouse.

  • T.Doom

    “they must have a lot of inefficient coal power plants”

    If that’s the case, they wouldn’t be dark… there’s a reason they’re dark…