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   Undertoad  Tuesday May 3 11:17 AM

5/3/2005: Korea at night



Always fun are the "earth at night" images but whenever I see then, I always look at North and South Korea and how vastly different they appear. This is the first such image that I've seen that isolates the entire peninsula.

I had thought the north was just poor -- and they are, eating grass if they can to avoid starving -- but it turns out that this is also the result of a personality cult demanding that all lights be off and all people in the country asleep by curfew time. Because the entire country is a slave state.

Oh. That's much better.

Christpher Hitchens puts it together in this piece on North Korea, which is where the image link came from:

Quote:
One tries to avoid cliché, and I did my best on a visit to this terrifying country in the year 2000, but George Orwell's 1984 was published at about the time that Kim Il Sung set up his system, and it really is as if he got hold of an early copy of the novel and used it as a blueprint. ("Hmmm … good book. Let's see if we can make it work.")

Actually, North Korea is rather worse than Orwell's dystopia. There would be no way, in the capital city of Pyongyang, to wander off and get lost in the slums, let alone to rent an off-the-record love nest in a room over a shop. Everybody in the city has to be at home and in bed by curfew time, when all the lights go off (if they haven't already failed). A recent nighttime photograph of the Korean peninsula from outer space shows something that no "free-world" propaganda could invent: a blaze of electric light all over the southern half, stopping exactly at the demilitarized zone and becoming an area of darkness in the north.



glatt  Tuesday May 3 11:57 AM

I don't doubt that North Korea has fewer lights than South Korea, but this image looks totally fake to me. North Korea is darker here than the ocean off the coast of North Korea.



jinx  Tuesday May 3 12:10 PM

N. Korea looks slightly brighter in this version, but really not much. They can't all be fake.




glatt  Tuesday May 3 12:35 PM

Good. In your picture you can see the lights of North Korean capital city.



Beestie  Tuesday May 3 12:41 PM

No lights in China along the NK border?



tw  Tuesday May 3 12:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt
I don't doubt that North Korea has fewer lights than South Korea, but this image looks totally fake to me. North Korea is darker here than the ocean off the coast of North Korea.
North Korea has a major electric shortage. These shortages are why Kim Jung Il could get his extremist party elders to go along with a treaty (negotiated by Carter) that would bring N Korea back into the world. But when the US Congress stopped oil shipments that were to be part of the 'opening' of N Korea, then the Kim Jung Il had no choice but to conceded to the extremists.

With no other choice and a government dominated by fearful extremists, then N Korea has a nuclear program. To the extremist factions in N Korea, their energy shortages are due to a world that only wants to conquer the Korean people. Kim Jung Il, who actually lived outside of N Korea, knows better. But with so little energy sources and with a US Congress that cut off those promised energy supplies, then any attempt to reform N Korean government attitudes is doomed. As a result, insufficient energy to light N Korea.

Providing N Korea with enough electricity to light their cities would easily empower Kim Jung Il to eliminate the militaristic extremists who dominate his government. But with a George Jr administration putting N Korea as the next invasion after Iran, then Kim Jung Il has no hope in reforming his country. Best to only light the captial city where those extremists hold power.

As for that nuclear reactor that everyone was so upset about? 5 Megawatts. Trivial for most countries. A major source of electricity for N Korea.


xant  Tuesday May 3 12:49 PM

glatt, this is the second time I've seen an image like this. (And jinx's makes a third.) Nothing fake about it. I suspect the reason the ocean looks brighter is because water is far more reflective than land, so some moonlight and starlight will be captured.



xant  Tuesday May 3 12:53 PM

I had a feeling one of them was on the cellar. Take a look at this one:
http://cellar.org/showthread.php?t=419.

It's not quite as clear here because Japan and S. Korea are so bright that they blend together. Just look west of Japan to S. Korea, then look directly north to see N. Korea.



Beestie  Tuesday May 3 01:00 PM

Wow, tw, I had no idea that North Korea was so misunderstood.



magilla  Tuesday May 3 01:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xant
glatt, this is the second time I've seen an image like this. (And jinx's makes a third.) Nothing fake about it. I suspect the reason the ocean looks brighter is because water is far more reflective than land, so some moonlight and starlight will be captured.
That and the presence of phosphorescent microorganisms.

Chris


glatt  Tuesday May 3 01:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xant
I had a feeling one of them was on the cellar. Take a look at this one:
http://cellar.org/showthread.php?t=419.

It's not quite as clear here because Japan and S. Korea are so bright that they blend together. Just look west of Japan to S. Korea, then look directly north to see N. Korea.
Cool. I don't remember that image from the Cellar. It was before my time. But even that image shows P'yongyang, even if it is a tiny dot in a sea of darkness. Today's image shows nothing. The vast empty ocean is brighter than the capital city. It just looks too fake to me. I'm not saying it is a fake. It just looks fake.


wolf  Tuesday May 3 01:04 PM

I'm trying to decide what not having a year on the otherwise precise date&timestamp means.



glatt  Tuesday May 3 01:05 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by magilla
That and the presence of phosphorescent microorganisms.

Chris
That's an explanation I can buy.


tw  Tuesday May 3 01:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beestie
Wow, tw, I had no idea that North Korea was so misunderstood.
Posted was commonly known. So commonly known that Carter got the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in the negotiations.

Did you hear what reporters are being told, off the record, by N Korean diplomats as they announced the shutdown and removal of those plutonium laced rods? They keep asking, "What will it take for the US government to negotiate with us in earnest?" The world understands these facts quite well. Unfortunately neighbors such as Japan figure the new US hardline position will not change. "If he is not a friend, then he can only be an enemy" concept. Japanese have been quietly gearing the world's second largest military (measured in dollars) for protection from a war in N Korea they fear to be inevitable.

Many don't know that Japan has a military that large. Many are so ill informed as to think Japan has a tiny if not no military. They would also have no idea of Kim Jung Il's ill-fated attempt to reform his nation.

Kim Jung Il is working within narrow constraints. The power brokers in his country cannot be ignored. But they also have little idea (as Kim does) of how the world really works. Kim Jung Il is in the same position as Assad of Syria. Both have narrow constraints that keep them in power. Both came to power with the intent of reforming their countries. Both are learning what they can and cannot do - and why their fathers were so ruthless.


glatt  Tuesday May 3 01:45 PM

Anyway, back to the image. There is a diagonal line that appears between two areas of differing levels of brightness. This is an "artifact" of the camera or the image processing and does not show lights that exist on the ground. If this type of artifact exists in the image, there could be others that make the North seem darker than it really is. (See my diagonal yellow line below, and compare it to the original image.)

I'm not saying North Korea has as many lights as the South. I know it's a backwards-ass country with little electricity. I just think the image looks fake. It looks more fake compared to the other two images posted, which do show the capital city.

There is a hint of light on the coast near the south by the arrow I drew.



glatt  Tuesday May 3 01:56 PM

Here's an image of North Korea at night that does not appear fake to me (top one.) It shows a few city lights, it shows a brightly lit DMZ, it shows lights in surrounding countries that appear to be dark in today's IOD above. This is was I expected North Korea to look like.

OK, I'll stop ranting and raving now.



lookout123  Tuesday May 3 02:43 PM

dammit people! i told you them n'rth k'reans had lights! we got to invade now. it's time to kill evry las' one o' them sonzabitches!



Trilby  Tuesday May 3 02:45 PM

Lookout, um...er...what are you doing today? You sound a little different.



lookout123  Tuesday May 3 02:52 PM

oh, that was just my best reactionary, redneck,rascist, militia imitation. you don't like?



xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday May 3 07:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt
Here's an image of North Korea at night that does not appear fake to me (top one.) It shows a few city lights, it shows a brightly lit DMZ, it shows lights in surrounding countries that appear to be dark in today's IOD above. This is was I expected North Korea to look like.

OK, I'll stop ranting and raving now.
The bottom one in that link is the same image UT posted. In the center between the two is a comparison showing the NK capitol lit up in '96 but not in '01.
If you're right and it is a fake, who's faking it and why?


tw  Tuesday May 3 07:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt
Anyway, back to the image. ... I'm not saying North Korea has as many lights as the South. I know it's a backwards-ass country with little electricity. I just think the image looks fake. It looks more fake compared to the other two images posted, which do show the capital city.
Why are there lights in the ocean between Korea and Japan - in the Korea Strait? There is a Japanese island just off Pusan. But not as large as those lights indicate.


xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday May 3 08:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by tw
Why are there lights in the ocean between Korea and Japan - in the Korea Strait? There is a Japanese island just off Pusan. But not as large as those lights indicate.
From the site;
Quote:
It is possible to distinguish four primary types of lights present at the earth's surface: human settlements, fires, gas flares, and fishing boats.
Maybe fishing boats??


xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday May 3 08:41 PM

From a link off glatt's link. I downloaded the 39.6MB tif, converted to a 4.54MB jpeg that's 227.556 inches x 113.778 inches.
Did a surgical strike on Korea for this image.

They look like islands offshore in this image?



wolf  Wednesday May 4 11:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lookout123
oh, that was just my best reactionary, redneck,rascist, militia imitation. you don't like?
I thought you were in psychic symbiosis with ZippyT.


russotto  Wednesday May 4 02:08 PM

The diagonal line is probably a seam between images from successive passes.

It looks to me like this image deliberately excludes everything outside of S. Korea, though. China should be lit, and Pyongyang as well.



tw  Thursday May 5 12:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce
From a off glatt's link. I downloaded the 39.6MB tif, converted to a 4.54MB jpeg that's 227.556 inches x 113.778 inches.
Did a surgical strike on Korea for this image.
That image makes far more sense. Chinese towns are now lit. Whole cities do not appear to exist in the Korea Straits. And the lights more correspond to a poplulation density map of Korea. For example, the shape of lights around S Korea's major population center in Daegu are more in agreement with how that area grew between moutains and along the highways.

N Korea has lights in P'yongynag and in other major cities such a Wonsan (where the USS Pueblo was taken after being captured) and Hungnam. Curiously, N Koreas North East poplulation centers don't seen to consume much electricity for lighting even though this is the region containing most of the nuclear related activities.


Karenv  Thursday May 5 03:13 PM

You know, the time of night could make the difference. If it were 7 or 8 pm there would likely be more lights. If it were past midnight in a country with severe energy shortages and no night life, then, there may be too few to show up on a satellite. No light color doesn't mean no electricity, it could be very dim or unconcentrated electricity.



tw  Thursday May 5 03:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karenv
You know, the time of night could make the difference. If it were 7 or 8 pm there would likely be more lights. If it were past midnight in a country with severe energy shortages and no night life, then, there may be too few to show up on a satellite. No light color doesn't mean no electricity, it could be very dim or unconcentrated electricity.
No one is claiming "no electricity in North Korea". The point is that N Korea has significantly less electricity. Also questioned is the validity of that earlier picture provided by UT. Was it doctored?

IOW I don't understand your point.


glatt  Thursday May 5 04:59 PM

You know, maybe it was just cloudy over North Korea and parts of China that night.



Undertoad  Thursday May 5 05:12 PM

Careful Google research finds another two shots:

http://www.cotf.edu/ete/modules/korea/klights.html

And most importantly

http://agora.ex.nii.ac.jp/~kitamoto/...lights.html.en

"Several images in the following illustrate several regions in Japan generated from the World Stable Lights dataset. The brighter the area is, the brighter the yellow color is, and the background of those images are generated from the Blue Marble dataset."




Karenv  Thursday May 5 06:25 PM

"IOW I don't understand your point."

The difference between the original picture submitted by UT and the pics with some light could be due to time of day and just having dim lighting. Why assume that it is doctored when there are simpler explanations?



xoxoxoBruce  Thursday May 5 08:14 PM

Good show, UT. That one shows the islands between SK and the Japs and explains those lights.



tw  Friday May 6 09:51 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karenv
"IOW I don't understand your point."

The difference between the original picture submitted by UT and the pics with some light could be due to time of day and just having dim lighting. Why assume that it is doctored when there are simpler explanations?
So why are lights in the Korea Straits off in the water adjacent to the island of Tsushima? Why does the ocean have more lights than the adjacent island of Tsushima? Why are there lights as bright as in Seoul located at 36 degrees N, 130 degrees East in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) off the city of Pohang? No land mass (island) exists there. Why are there bright lights in the Yellow Sea off the city of Gimpo and Incheon (west of Seoul)? How does time of day cause bright lights to appear where only ocean should exist? I don't understand your point. What does time of day have to do with lights where no human civilization should exist?

Those lights don't appear in a picture provided by xoxoxoBruce and in a new photo provided by UT. So what created lights where no land masses exist? Time of day?


russotto  Friday May 6 10:29 AM

The lights in the water are boats.



glatt  Friday May 6 10:36 AM

Here's another image and an explanation of the lights in the water.

Quote:
Take a look at Japan and South Korea, brightly lit up. Contrast the latter to North Korea, the border between the two being clearly demarked where the light stops at the 38th parallel. Do you see the light blue in the waters surrounding Japan and South Korea? This represents large floodlights employed by the fishing fleet at night, to draw squid and other sea creatures to the surface where they can easily be caught. This is the sign of fisheries on the brink of collapse. Similar lights can be seen off the coast of China and in a few other spots in the other images.



tw  Friday May 6 11:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt
Here's another image and an explanation of the lights in the water.
The fishing fleets create lights greater than or equal to the light output in cities of millions? Look at North Korea where 5 megawatts is a significant electricity. Notice the little amount of light. Look at the South Korean cities where the electric consumption is thousands of megawatts.

What ships are lightning the ocean even with 5 megawatts? If the lit ocean areas were not so large (the size of P'yongyang in N Korea), then I might appreciate that explanation. But the numbers necessary to light up such large areas just cannot be accounted for by a fishing fleet. Its just too much electricity and in multiple ocean areas that are too large. One fishing fleet lights an ocean area the size of Seoul and its suburbs? If the generators on those boats are that large, then where do they store the day's catch?

Remember, I am questioning the validity of the first photo posted by UT. Those other photos don't show all those lights offshore. And those other photos show he islands in the Korea straights properly illuminated only on land- not in the Straits.


glatt  Friday May 6 11:56 AM

I'm not a fisherman, so I don't know.

Perhaps the light in these images is a measure of light and not electricity. Perhaps much of the light from these fishing boats is being reflected up into the sky, and that isn't happening as much on the land, where dark colored pavement, dirt and vegetation absorbs much of the light from street lights.

When you shine a light from a high angle into the water, some penetrates the water, and some bounces off the surface like a mirror. Perhaps these fishing boats are, in effect, aiming their lights down into the ocean at the same time they are aiming them up into the lenses of the cameras in the satellites.



Undertoad  Friday May 6 12:10 PM

Perhaps a high-contrast light, versus the blackness of sea, seems brighter on the image.



xoxoxoBruce  Saturday May 7 12:48 AM

I would imagine the floodlights from the boats would be at a low angle, trying to light up as much surface area as they can. Lighting the surface of the water would show up in the pictures better than the equivalent city wattage that would only show incidental light escaping from where it's used.

This gave me a flashback of the search lights on trucks that use to mark supermarket openings and new car years at the dealers. They were gas powered and looking into the unit at a low angle it didn't look like those rows of little flames could produce that powerful beam that flashed the Batsign on the clouds.



spanishguy  Tuesday May 10 10:05 AM

I have spent probably too much of my time looking at satellite imagery from nasa. One thing that is certain is that the same location can look very different depending on a huge number of variables. This image did look a bit extreme based on other images I have seen. I took this one in to Photoshop and started playing with levels and correction. Here are some results.

<img src="http://home.cwru.edu/~tje2/korea-lights-analysis1.jpg">

I noticed there was a definite difference in the ocean brightness from left to right. pumping up the brightness and contrast brings this out more in the second image. The last image is 'corrected' by myself, eyeballing a line and trying to get the water to the same, consistent brightness. Pyongyang seems to show up much better and this image fits in more with others I have seen. Up in China, however, I think the lighting patterns are not so much cities as they are mountains or geographic features reflecting some sunlight.

<img src="http://home.cwru.edu/~tje2/obvious.jpg">

In the image above, I used the uncorrected version and only played with levels of brightness and contrast in order to really bring out the left-right differences in the image. It plainly shows that the image is not consistent from left to right, regardless of land mass or city lights.

<img src="http://home.cwru.edu/~tje2/contrasty.jpg">

This last image is a left-right corrected version in which I tried to get the lights to show up in a manner used in the other composites people are posting. It still is a bit inconsistent, and very grainy. It is closer to the other images, but quite frankly the image quality is too low and the overall calibration is too inconsistent to really make inferences about North Korea's light levels vs. levels in other parts of the image.

The popular Visible Earth composites are made from thousands of different images laced together. Average brightness for different areas are plotted from multiple observations. A single image is bound to contain inconsistencies, and should not be used directly without context. I'm sure the person who saw this and emailed it around just saw something that helped reinforce a preconceived notion about Korea's situation. Careful analysis shows that while there is a major difference, this image seems to exaggerate the light discrepancy.


There are other factors we haven't even touched - does North Korea use mostly sodium, metal halide, halogen, incandescent, or florescent lighting? At what wavelength is the picture taken? What time was it taken? Were there clouds? Snow? Dust storms? Was this a holiday in North or South Korea? Friday night football games? Tax day? Certainly, some of these are ridiculous questions, but taking a small number of pictures and making broad inferences is always dangerous. You ALWAYS will see things that seem to reinforce preconceived notions. Just ask Colin Powell.



glatt  Tuesday May 10 10:30 AM

Excellent post. Thanks for your perspective, and welcome to the Cellar.



Catwoman  Tuesday May 10 10:36 AM

Hola spanish guy.



spanishguy  Tuesday May 10 11:30 AM

Hi ya'll. A little info about the new guy: Just moved back to PA from Houston, TX. I'm not at all spanish or hispanic (fraternity nickname, long and boring story). I have 5 fingers (thumb inclusive) on my right hand. Many years ago, I was born, and I even have a certificate to prove it. I am not at all sarcastic.

BTW, the fact that the other images are composites is why fishing boats and other moving lights will not show up. The composites are designed to show 'permanent' lights, although degree of permanence is not really explained. Some of teh boats could actually be the islands themselves - don't think the blue coastlines are drawn perfect. South Korea's east coast buildup is probably not several miles inland, despite what the blue line shows. These pictures are often taken at odd oblique angles, and they don't always point north. Matching up a coastline drawing to a photograph is often difficult, and not always accurate. Islands usually don't quite line up - just use the blue lines for a general reference.

I still think much of the light in the Korea Strait is fishing boats, but the islands are not lined up very well.



tw  Tuesday May 10 10:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Undertoad
Perhaps a high-contrast light, versus the blackness of sea, seems brighter on the image.
In IR pictures I had seen raw from the satellite, ground lights and clouds both appear. Those globs of 'light' in the oceans could just as easily been clouds. Notice a shortage of cloud cover in N Korea. Just another reason that the original picture posted by UT leaves me suspicious. Were clouds electronically removed in N Korea but not in S Korea or over the ocean? We have no way of knowing. We can only speculate. But it does look so. Cloud cover would explain those lights in the Korea Strait, Sea of Japan, etc.

Yes, IR from clouds does appear in night time images.


BrianR  Tuesday May 10 11:46 PM

Try here for more sat pics

http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/satellite.html

You get to choose which satellite you look from (no, no Keyhole sats) and the lat and long you look at.



chrisinhouston  Sunday May 15 07:58 AM

Having never been to Japan I have to wonder if they ever turn any of their lights off at night? Seems to be the brightest spot on the planet!



richlevy  Sunday May 15 09:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beestie
Wow, tw, I had no idea that North Korea was so misunderstood.
No, but it does show the unintended consequences of politics and government.

If Nixon had taken a hardline stance towards China, would the world be better off?

The US embargo of oil to Japan is cited as one of the provocations for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Of course, the Iraq oil for food program shows that corruption is one of the results of attempts at humanitarian relief.

All I can say is that I don't have any good answers. But all of this shows that diplomacy is a minefield mixing human emotions with the possibility of devastating outcomes affecting millions of lives. A 'beat on it with a stick' approach is generally not good. Whether the results are tens of thousands starving to death, or some 19-year-old kid from Ohio dying on a street during a military operation, there are consequences for almost every action.

One thing never changes in politics, the people making the decisions are very rarely the ones who bear the brunt of the suffering from their failures.

Personally, I am not a big fan of the 'starve them to make them free' approach.


Undertoad  Sunday May 15 10:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by richlevy
All I can say is that I don't have any good answers.
That doesn't seem to prevent you from posting guesses.


elSicomoro  Sunday May 15 11:17 AM

All we are in the end are talking heads and Monday morning quarterbacks.



xoxoxoBruce  Sunday May 15 11:23 PM

I suspect if North Korea is that short of electricity they probably aren't wasting much. Little outdoor lighting, small bulbs in the center of the room away from windows, rooms not in use unlit and a host of other conservation measures that would explain why not much can be seen from space.
Hell, they may even have blackout blankets on the windows.



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