A view of nighttime lights from North and South Korea.

North Korea Goes Dark


North Korea’s isolation is visible in new satellite photos that show the energy-bankrupt country at night. (National Geographic News)

Use our resources to see North Korea’s dark nights.

Discussion Ideas


  • Keep the “Lights at Night” and “Population Density” layers active. Zoom out (-) from North Korea, so you can see Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia. Play with the transparency on both map layers. What other regions have dense populations and little electricity or electrical infrastructure?
    • Here are a few regions: Philippines; Vietnam; Laos; Cambodia; Sri Lanka; the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta in India and Bangladesh; the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya; Madagascar; and Yemen, on the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.


  • Why do you think these regions might be experiencing energy shortages or a lack of infrastructure? What other map layers might help display these reasons?
    • Most of these regions exist in developing countries that lack the money to create infrastructure (a power grid, delivery systems, reliable sources of electricity) necessary for a sustainable electrical footprint.
      • A map layer that might help show this economic disparity might be a nation or region’s per-capita gross domestic product (GDP). This information is easily accessed in the CIA World Factbook.
    • Many of these regions are experiencing social or political conflict. Protecting a country’s borders, citizens, and political infrastructure might be prioritized over developing a power grid.

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