Google Earth Exposes North Korean Labor Camps

Hot on the heels of Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s trip to North Korea, human rights activist groups have taken to Google Earth to expose North Korean Labor camps.

Mr. Schmidt has not revealed the reasons behind his trip to North Korea. Google is only describing the trip as “personal travel.” On the trip with him was former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Richardson is open about his purpose. He is hoping to win the release of detained US tour guide Kenneth Brae. Brae has been detained since November.

The human rights group, One Free Korea, has used the mostly recreational program to expose the locations of labor camps that have been discovered in North Korea.

Joshua Stanton, a blogger for One Free Korea, spoke with RTE News about the work his group has done:

“The good that Google has done, however inadvertently, by helping people tell the truth about North Korea, will probably be reflected in the history of the country one day.”

Human Rights Watch estimates there are 200,000 North Koreans locked up in work camps. One Free Korea features satellite images from Google Earth that expose six political prisoner camps. On the map of North Korea, the blog identifies images of gates and guard houses.

Three of the revealed camps Stanton has been credited with discovering.

Schmidt’s trip to North Korea has been heavily criticized for its timing in relation to North Korea’s recent missile launch.

Stanton tells RTE News what he thinks of Schmidt’s trip:

“What Eric Schmidt does or does not do in Pyongyang will probably be forgotten in a few weeks.”

He is hoping that what he does has a greater impact. Here is an image from One Free Korea showing one of the camps:


Do you think One Free Korea is going to make a difference?