Google Maps North Korean Gulags, Fails to Highlight Escape Routes

PYONGYANG — In an historic move, Google has finally documented the villages, highways, and prison camps of the world’s most secretive nation, but somehow neglected to include the country’s most important and sought-after map feature: escape routes.

Following a visit to the North Korean capital by Google chairman Eric E. Schmidt early in January, a country that has historically remained largely uncharted has finally been documented in a relatively detailed map, down to its infamous prison camps. Dozens of Google Maps users have left thorough reviews of what Google has termed “gulags,” commenting on everything from the food—the dishes served in Bukchong Gulag appear to be several stars nicer than those in northeastern Chongjin Gulag—to the quality of the beds and leniency of the guards. “Seriously, a quality death camp,” one Google user’s recommendation read.

Considered a serious humanitarian, security, and political challenge, the reclusive country does not allow most of its 24.5 million citizens access to the Internet. As technologies become cheaper and more readily available, however, many believe even those in remote North Korean villages would “be very interested in” access to a Google map with well-delineated escape routes. Prisoners in the famous North Korean gulags have also expressed some curiosity about this information.

In a press release issued today, Google explained that the omission was “totally not intentional” and that the escape routes “had just slipped our minds,” assuring citizens that their desires had been heard and the situation would be rectified during the next update.