In recent years, satellite mapping of North Korea, especially of its labor camps, has become important forms of evidence of human rights violations, used by transnational advocacy groups to lobby to Western governments for change. A phenomenon of “citizen cartography” has emerged where non-expert humanitarian actors use commercially available software like Google Earth to “infiltrate” the borders of North Korea. This essay interrogates the politics of seeing that takes place in creating the site and sight of North Korea by citizen cartographers, and historicizes these processes of seeing in Cold War and post-Cold War visual culture. Specifically, citizen cartography of North Korea engages in rhetorics of resolution, where the cartographer continually searches for a better, clearer view of the ground below, while still constrained by corporate software and logics of state sovereignty that make it difficult to "resolve" the problem of forced labor.

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Copyright © 2019 Routledge. Article first published online: December 2018.

DOI: 10.1080/00335630.2018.1553306.

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Full Citation:

Barney, Timothy. "The Sight and Site of North Korea: Citizen Cartography’s Rhetoric of Resolution in the Satellite Imagery of Labor Camps." Quarterly Journal of Speech 109, no. 1 (2019): 1-24.