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January 29, 2013

American Student Uses Google Earth to Spy on North Korea

By Carlos Olivera, TMCnet Content Producer

There is no doubt that the United States has ample tools to spy on other countries. We have used everything from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to spy planes to satellites, but one college student has made a startling discovery in North Korea with a tool elementary students have most likely explored with.

Curtis Melvin, a Ph.D economics student at George Mason University has been keeping a blog and updating his readers on any and every news item coming out of North Korea. Melvin has also begun using an unlikely, but simple tool to keep tabs on the North Koreans, Google Earth.

Since using Google (News - Alert) Earth to track the Koreans, Melvin believes he has come across what may be a new prison camp or “Kwan-Li-So as it’s called in the native language. Based on his findings, another blog, One Free Korea posted two separate images, one from 2006 and the other from September 2011 that shows what could possibly be the features of the new prison camp.

The photo from 2006 shows just a barren mountain side, while the newer picture appears to show a perimeter with several guard posts spread out inside of it.

"I hope I am completely wrong on this," Melvin wrote in an email to ABC News. "However, the facility bears a remarkable resemblance to other known prison camps in the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]."

Melvin calls his blog North Korean Economy Watch, and he gathers information from all platforms including online newspapers, Korean TV newscasts and testimonials from Korean defectors who want to share their experiences.

This potential new find comes off of the heels of the North Koreans first successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The launch comes a year after its new leader, Kim Jong Un, took power after his father’s King Jong Il’s death in late 2011.

North Korea claims that the long range Galaxy 3 Rocket that was launched was in fact a satellite. However, that comes off a little hard to believe considering they have attempted, and failed four previous rocket launches dating back to 1998.

Although the rocket was launched into low level orbit, it’s believed that the rocket has the range of over 6,000 miles, just long enough to reach the west coast of the United States. It’s also said that North Korea is years away from even having the capability to attempt a nuclear warhead launch so there is no immediate danger. But this latest act shows they are slowly progressing and the US needs to have a closer eye kept on their movements.

Edited by Ashley Caputo

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