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North Korea shrouded in darkness in stunning new photo from space station

A time lapse filmed from the International Space Station from Malaysia to the North Pacific Ocean reveals the stunning contrast between North and South Korea at night
Time Lapse: North Korea covered in darkness 00:40

The Korean Peninsula has long been a tale of contrasts, but few contrasts are more stark than the one seen in a recent image taken on the International Space Station.

While flying over East Asia, the astronauts snapped a picture of North and South Korea at night, and the darkness that envelops The Hermit Kingdom truly stands out.

 In describing the image, NASA said “the darkened land appears as if it were a patch of water joining the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan. The capital city, Pyongyang, appears like a small island, despite a population of 3.26 million.”

According to the World Bank, North Korea consumed just 739 kilowatt hours per capita in 2011, whereas South Korea was at 10,162 kilowatt hours per capita. (For comparison’s sake, Iceland had the highest consumption rate, at 52,374 kilowatt hours per capita. The lowest, Haiti, had a consumption rate of 32 kilowatt hours per capita.)

What is also particularly disturbing about this photo is how little has changed for the people of North Korea not just since the current dictator Kim Jong-un took over from his dad in 2011, but in the last decade in general.

In 2002, the-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld unveiled a satellite photo showing almost the exact same thing in North Korea at night: darkness.


A NASA image released this week shows a recent night view of the Korean Peninsula. Apart from a spot of light in Pyongyang, North Korea is mostly cloaked in darkness, with China (top left) and South Korea (bottom right) on either side. NASA

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