Entries in Google Earth (3)


Google Earth Used to Spot North Korean Labor Camp

One Free Korea/Google Earth(WASHINGTON) -- North Korea appears to be both a threat and an enigma. In recent days, it has boasted that its ballistic missiles are a threat to the United States, but hard information is difficult to get from that very closed communist country.

American intelligence agencies watch North Korea very closely, and so does Curtis Melvin, a Ph.D. economics student at George Mason University in Virginia.  He keeps a blog called North Korean Economy Watch, which has become something of a clearinghouse for people who want to know more about the country under Kim Jong Un. To get information, he uses such sources as online newspapers, Korean TV newscasts, accounts from defectors who share their experiences — and Google Earth.

Now, he reports, he has spotted what may be the perimeter of a new prison camp (a kwan-li-so in the local language), hidden in the mountains of North Korea.  Based on his find, another blog, One Free Korea, posted two images from Google Earth, the first shot by an Earth-observing satellite in December 2006.

Google Earth has just posted new images of the same spot, shot by a different satellite in September 2011, and Melvin says there are signs that a new camp may have been set up.

“I hope I am completely wrong on this,” he wrote in an email to ABC News. “However, the facility bears a remarkable resemblance to other known prison camps in the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea].”

Melvin said he visited North Korea in 2004 and 2005, and has been watching it since.  With help from others who are curious about that very closed society, he has spotted rocket launch sites, palaces — and, apparently, gulags, some of them larger in area than sprawling cities.  There appear to be at least half a dozen major camps, and some analysts say they hold more than 100,000 prisoners.

“After seven years,” he said, “I have amassed a colossal amount of satellite imagery that has been used to show the development of new factories, expansion of the electricity grid, the spread of markets, new military infrastructure and, unfortunately, apparent changes in the incarceration system.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Google Maps Shows Mysterious White Lines in China Desert

Keith Bedford/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BEIJING) -- Just what are those lines? And what are they doing in the middle of nowhere, out in the Gobi desert of northwestern China?

They were spotted on Google Maps, and over the last few days they’ve taken on something of a viral quality. The array in the image included here is about a mile long and 3,000 feet across (there are several in the area), and it’s set off speculation from sources across the web:

Gizmodo: “Perhaps it’s some kind of targeting or calibrating grid for Chinese spy satellites? Maybe it’s a QR code for aliens? Nobody really knows.”

New Scientist: “Conspiracy theorists pounced immediately. Were these some sort of alien markings or the remains of a lost civilisation?”

The Mirror: “One photograph, which depicts 16 perfect squares spaced out in a block, shows what appear to be burnt-out trucks, supporting the claim that the sites are targets.”

Charles Vick of, which watches military and space issues, said, “This is indeed a mystery that requires a much closer examination up close but my best guess is a calibration ground facility for imaging and radar imaging systems in earth orbit.”

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Outrage After Google Image Reveals Star of David on Roof of Iran Airport

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iranian officials are reportedly outraged after learning that a Google Earth satellite image revealed a Star of David emblazoned atop the roof of the Tehran airport.

According to Arabic-language news outlet Al Arabiya, national leaders called for the immediate removal of the Zionist symbol after it was discovered on top of the main building of Iran Air.

Although Israel and Iran broke ties more than 30 years ago, Al Arabiya reported that the Iran Air building was built by Israeli engineers before the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Citing local reports, it also said that not only did the Iranian government hire Israeli engineers to build the airliner's headquarters, it also scheduled regular flights between the two countries.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio