Night Photo Reveals Reality About North Korea

The ‘Dear Leader’ of North Korea, Kim Jong Il, died yesterday and there have been hysterical reactions from the ‘subjects’. They have been wailing at the passing away of a great leader. Similar scenes were observed, when Kim Il Sung, the previous premier of N.Korea, died in 1994. Unfortunately for the North Koreans, the thin curtain of make belief doesn’t last too long, especially when aerial technology is so very advanced these days. The sentiments of the public are undoubtedly genuine, but the facts presented to them are invariably not. N. Korea is a dying republic, the country’s media has been hijacked and personal freedom is an alien concept. The South, along with the US, is not as great an enemy of the North Koreans as the leaders ruling the thin strip of land.

Crisis. Untold.

One of the most defining images that has caught this sentiment is the distribution of power throughout N.Korea at night. Here is the dramatic image that was snapped from a satellite and it should speak volumes without me having to spell out anything at all! The lone bright spot is Pyongyang, the capital.

A look at the distribution of lights in the Korean Peninsula at night. The only bright spot in the northern half is Pyongyang.

Now, with the passing away of their leader, N.Korea is suddenly again in the political eye of the world. The grossly misnamed ‘Demilitarized Zone’ (DMZ), lying between the two Koreas has been religiously maintained by both the countries. It is one of the most heavily militarized stretches of land on Earth, wrote Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair, part of, probably, the most definitive journalistic essay on North Korea. Across the waist of the Korean Peninsula lies a wasteland, roughly following the 38th Parallel, and packed with a titanic concentration of potential violence. Unfortunately, for N.Korea, this means sucking out every bit of resource from every other part of the governance, just to keep itself at the brink of war with its much advanced and US-backed southern counterpart. The DMZ has been a constant source of conflict and tension between the two countries and, with China tacitly supporting the North and the US openly supporting the South, it is a tinderbox.


Here is a second image, similar to the one before. This was taken by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite.

A similar image of the two Koreas. Taken by the DMSP.

This is both sad and dangerous; sad because of the obvious reasons and dangerous because the citizens of this unfortunate country have been brainwashed into seeing beyond this most obvious misery.

As a human being, I find it abhorrent to wish for the death of some other fellow human, but on this occasion, I hope that the death of the leader of a forsaken country will be an opportunity, albeit a slight one.

Best Wishes!

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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.