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NASA satellite image shows just how isolated North Korea is from the rest of the world

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I have an update to the North Korea by night entry I posted several days after Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011. At the time, I wrote “perhaps there is no better visualization of the isolation and oppression that the North Koreans live under”. I would like to amend that statement to reflect this updated set from NASA’s Earth Observatory (link).

We see with even more clarity the isolation of North Korea in direct contrast to the prosperity of the South. The lights literally run up to the 38th parallel and end. Full stop. Unbelievable.

The reason we can see these lights so clearly is that the image contains wavelengths through the visible spectrum up to infrared using NASA's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometry Suite (VIIRS) satellite. Filtering and post-processing allow everything from city lights, wildfires, gas flares, and yes, even fishing boats (check out the seaborne lights) to be visible.

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

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