Aerial images of the Earth from space seem to wipe out most traces of humanity during the day, as our extensive cities and roadways are washed out by the landscape at that distance. Nighttime is a different story. In the dark, city lights give an accurate representation of population density and socioeconomic conditions. Asia holds over 60% of the world’s total population, so it is not surprising that capital cities like Beijing, China and Seoul, South Korea are bright beacons of light.
Though the vast expanses of light allow you to see cities and outlines of entire countries, it also makes it obvious that something is missing: North Korea. New images taken from the International Space Station help illustrate that point, as North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang is a faint smudge of light in comparison to South Korea. It is easy to see border of the two countries along the demilitarized zone at the 38th parallel.
North Korea has approximately 25 million citizens, which is more than Australia. There is about the same number of people living in the Seoul metropolitan area alone. According to The World Bank, technologically-savvy South Korea’s per capita energy consumption is 10,262 kilowatt hours, while politically oppressed North Korea sits at a mere 739 kilowatt hours. These differences are a distinct reminder of how political affiliations can affect entire populations since they divided into two countries over 65 years ago.
Though the two countries never officially signed a peace treaty and are still technically at war, many in South Korea still desire unification under a democratic government. Should such a day come, it will be interesting to see how much changes on the peninsula when viewed from above at night.