[Press Release][Press Release] Relaunch of the Visual Atlas

23 Feb 2021
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“Dedicated to the hidden voices in North Korea…”

The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) Relaunches the Visual Atlas



○ The Visual Atlas was created by NKDB to disclose the location of human rights violations in North Korea and pursue accountability for perpetrators

○ The Visual Atlas 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->ž   <!--[endif]-->shows that violations of human rights in North Korea prevalent not only in prisons but also in everyday living spaces

<!--[if !supportLists]-->ž   <!--[endif]-->contains 2,861 cases of human rights violations, 483 locations of human rights violations using Google Maps’ satellite imagery

<!--[if !supportLists]-->ž   <!--[endif]-->provides statistics based on 78,798 cases stored in the NKDB Unified Human Rights Database


The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) has relaunched its Visual Atlas platform (www.visualatlas.org), which uses Google’s satellite images to map the locations and cases of human rights abuses in North Korea. The site is available in both Korean and English.


The Visual Atlas was created using data accumulated by NKDB since 2003, based on the information stored in the NKDB Unified Human Rights Database, to shed light on human rights abuses in North Korea. The platform was first created in 2014 using the Google Earth API, however, following the depreciation of the Google Earth API, NKDB has migrated the program to Google Maps to create a more user-friendly platform.


The Visual Atlas has four main functions- ‘Categories,’ ‘Density,’ ‘Statistics’ and ‘Glossary.’ The ‘Categories’ function displays the locations where the most severe human rights violations occur in North Korea, including political prison camps, detention facilities, public executions, forced repatriations, religious persecution, violations of women’s rights, etc. The ‘Density’ function displays the concentration of human rights violations first by province, but can be broken down to the county level. The ‘Statistics’ tab displays the numerical scale in which each type of violation occurs, as well as a breakdown by decade and other information. The ‘Glossary’ function shows specific terms and concepts that are unique to North Korea, and the human rights situation in particular.


As of February 23, 2021, the ‘Categories’ section displays a total of 2,861 human rights violations, including 735 cases related to Political Prison Camps, 1,228 related to other detention facilities, 168 cases related public execution, 414 cases related to forced repatriation, 145 cases related to religious persecution, 89 cases related to women’s rights and 82 cases related to torture and physical violence. NKDB plans to continuously update these cases as it manages the platform.


In addition, the Visual Atlas allows the user to see exactly where these North Korean human rights violations are taking place, and includes a total of 483 geographic locations. From detention facilities such as those that are operated by the Ministry of State Security, Ministry of People’s Security, police holding camps, labor training camps, prisons and political prison camps to locations where public executions occur, such as the markets and sports stadiums, and the holding facilities where those who are repatriated from China are held before being sent back to North Korea, all these locations can be seen via the markers on Google Maps. 


The Visual Atlas includes cases that have already been made public through media, books and news reports as well as cases that have not been disclosed publicly before. For these cases, NKDB has redacted any information that may be used to identify the individuals subject to these violations, such as their name, age and sex as to protect the identity of the information providers, victims and any family members left in North Korea. Redactions were only made to protect the identity of the victim while not distorting any of the facts of the violation.


The human rights violations and locations shared through the Visual Atlas are done under the principle of protecting the victims as well as those who provided testimonies. To prevent any secondary damage or retaliation against those still living in North Korea, the Visual Atlas is constantly being updated to ensure the safety of those who have provided information.


NKDB aims to hold the perpetrators who committed and continue to commit these human rights violations responsible. Accurate evidence along with credible testimonies from victims are crucial to pursue accountability. By identifying the exact locations of violations of human rights in North Korea, NKDB creates a foundation of reliable information by demanding improvements in human rights and identifying those responsible for committing the violations.


NKDB appreciates your continued support, and is proud to share the newly relaunched Visual Atlas at www.visualatlas.org