Wallpaper Monday

Earth at night

This is an oldie but a goodie: the first stitched satellite image of Earth’s city lights at night. Built from data collected from October 1994 through March 1995, the full image was not published until October 2000. Two years later, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used it in a briefing to point out how impoverished North Korea was, as evidenced by its utter lack of lights.

The news today of Kim Jong-Il’s death reminded me of this image, so I went looking for it. Apparently I am not the first to think of it, judging by the results of a Google search. But the situation has not changed in the 17 years since these data were first collected — North Korea is still impoverished, and its people still regularly deal with food shortages and blackouts (that is, in areas that have electricity). The food insecurity has been so pronounced for so long that there is now a distinct morphological difference between the formerly homogenous North and South Koreans. Yet somehow North Korea’s leaders always seem to look very well-fed.

Here’s a zoom of the Koreas from the above image, with geographical boundaries added in:

North and South Korea

The enormous city just beneath the border between the two countries is Seoul, capital of South Korea. And that tiny dot of light in North Korea is its capital, Pyongyang.

(Click the image to planetize.)

About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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7 Responses to Wallpaper Monday

  1. JR says:

    Okay, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised we referenced the same photo on our blogs today…

    • oregon expat says:

      Just read your post and had to smile at the ending, because that is the exact same thought I had while writing mine. What glorious night skies they must have…and yet it’s kind of hard to celebrate that rare resource.

  2. Ana_ñ says:

    It is so disheartening to see this aberration self-perpetuating, like some sort of hereditary Stalinism. How I would love to say, Tchaikovsky forever, Kim Jongses and Co!

  3. René says:

    My brother is in Incheon right now and I know he reads this blog.


  4. Philip says:

    Howzit sis! Hehe!
    Over here it seems North Korea is a bit of a non-issue. However, I have heard of schools that actually cancelled afternoon classes so that the teachers could have a party to celebrate Kim Jong-Il’s death.
    The weirdest thing I’ve come across is the so-called Propoganda Village in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. That and the huge speakers aimed at South Korea delivering propoganda broadcasts. Funny, but sad.

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