About the SA Blog Network

Plugged In

Plugged In

More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives
Plugged In HomeAboutContact

North Korea by night [photograph]

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Email   PrintPrint

North Korea appears as a sea of darkness in this famous photograph. The capital city Pyongyang registers as the sole blip of light.
Perhaps there is no better visualization of the isolation and oppression that the North Koreans live under.
Via the late Christopher Hitchens’ essay on North Korea for Slate: “A Nation of Racist Dwarfs”.

David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Rights & Permissions

Comments 7 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. fredtal 8:54 pm 12/19/2011

    Yea but they are carbon neutral.

    Link to this
  2. 2. scottmcnally 12:03 am 12/20/2011

    I have heard that North Koreans, on average, are 4 to 5 inches shorter than South Koreans because of food rationing.
    I have also heard that making international phone calls is punishable by death.

    Link to this
  3. 3. kenstech 12:24 am 12/20/2011

    This is terrible, our poor Dear Leader is dead!

    Well, at least we have Obama.

    Link to this
  4. 4. Damir Ibrisimovic 2:05 am 12/20/2011

    Probably the best visualisation I ever saw — thank you.

    The funny thing is that the most of people in that darkness sincerely believe that there is even greater darkness elsewhere. I have personally seen the bewilderment in the eyes of Albanians in a delegation when they started to open their country.

    Have a nice day,
    Damir Ibrisimovic

    Link to this
  5. 5. lamorpa 8:46 am 12/20/2011

    Is the picture at 8PM or 3AM? I doubt it’s the case, but if it’s 3AM, maybe they just don’t leave lights on all night wasting power and destroying the planet. In the same vein, if it’s 3AM and that’s Seoul, it’s a nice FU to the planet, lighting things up like that for no purpose (this goes the same for everywhere else that does it).

    Link to this
  6. 6. Dave Cary 10:00 pm 12/20/2011

    Chritopher Hitchens is dead? When did he die?

    Link to this
  7. 7. diacad 4:43 pm 12/22/2011

    We actually visited the DPRK (North Korea) in 2008. Our understanding is that “lights out” was primarily a civil defense measure. Technically, we are still at war with North Korea (the US has refused to sign a peace treaty). They are concerned about an imminent attack, and have frequent bomb-shelter drills. Other defense measures include lack of street signs or accurate maps of Pyongyang, and no written descriptions on buildings. If this seems paranoid, consider that during the active part of the Korean civil war, the US destroyed almost all sizeable structures in North Korea and killed a tenth of its citizens. What would we do if the tables were turned?

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Email this Article