Photo of Asia from space: That big black spot is North Korea


North Korea appears to be missing in an image taken from space.

NASA says of the nighttime image, taken from the International Space Station: “North Korea is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea and China. The darkened land appears as if it were a patch of water joining the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan.”

Capital city Pyongyang has a population of more than 3 million, yet is a tiny island of light.


The dictator-ruled nation is in the dark in more ways than one. Electricity is sporadic and unreliable, with those who have it often receiving power only a few hours a day, according to U.S. News & World Report. Citizens struggle with chronic fuel shortages. Most get their fuel for heating and cooking on the black market, Global Post reports, or go out and gather fuel -- such as firewood -- themselves.

Laura Ling, a journalist who was imprisoned in North Korea, wrote about the nation and creeping change in 2012 in the L.A. Times. She noted that North Korea was as “isolated and backward” as South Korea was “wired and technologically advanced.” The average North Korean, she said, has no knowledge of YouTube, Facebook or Twitter.

U.S. culture, however, was seeping into North Korea: “My guards were not totally unaware of outside pop culture. One had been given Hollywood screenplays in college to help improve her English language skills. It was disconcerting to hear her reciting lines from the Adam Sandler flick ‘Big Daddy,’ ” Ling said.

[For the record, 11:03 a.m. Feb. 26: An earlier version of this post had Laura Ling’s first name as Lisa.]

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