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North Korea’s nuclear test site is on Google Maps with 61 ‘glowing’ reviews

Not everybody thinks the site is so flashy.


Josh Katzowitz

Internet Culture

Posted on Jan 6, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 9:57 am CDT

North Korea created tremors felt around the word on Tuesday after it claimed it had successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb.

Granted, those claims haven’t been independently verified, and South Korea simply doesn’t believe its neighbor to the north. As one analyst said, “I suspect the bomb they tested was a boosted-fission weapon”—which sounds only a little less scary.

So while we don’t know exactly what happened at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, Google Maps does offer helpful information about the test site itself.

Sadly, the average rating out of 61 reviews is a mediocre 3.2, so the next time you’re visiting Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s domain, it’s probably not worth making the trip to the northeast to visit the site, which is supposedly where the country also tested nuclear weapons in 2006, 2009, and 2013.

Most people were not blown away by their imagined visits.

Wrote a one-star reviewer: “Was very noisy and gave my nose a second nose. There was no interpreter. The cuisine here is sparkling but that’s only because of the radioactive boiled cabbage.”

Wrote another: “Fairly disappointed. Approximately 50 KT for a hydrogen bomb? Come on. Russia pulled off 50,000, and designed 100,000. If you are going to threaten to bomb my country, you should at least ensure an instantaneous death for me. Right now you are only capable of preventing me from going to the mall downtown, and then getting blown off the face of the planet in return. If you choose instead to use those chemical weapons, that’s just plain rude …”

Not everyone was so negative, however.

“I don’t understand how anyone could give this place a poor-fair review!!” one person who showered the site with a five-star rating wrote. “As promised the evening fireworks show was spectacular, and my girlfriend was extremely satisfied with the instant tan. After awhile though, she wouldn’t leave the locals alone. She just kept going on and on and on asking everyone how they got so skinny. Unfortunately none of them spoke English so she couldn’t find out what kind of diet they were on. Overall I was very impressed and will return soon!!”

Here’s one of our favorite reviews:

“Of all the barren, post-nuclear, wastelands I have visited this was by far the best. Of course Los Alamos is the classic, but no where else do you feel the warmth of the radioactive decay take you in its soft embrace quite as vividly as in the Hamgyong Nuclear Test Facility. However, be warned, reservations are required, as Hamgyong, is very exclusive. In fact, it is not uncommon to encounter the upper echelons of North Korean society. Once, I even met the North’s biggest film star, Zao Xioping, who has stared in such famous films as, “Glory to the Industrial Proletariat in Their Moment of Triumph Over the Decadent Capitalists,” and of course who could forget his appearance in the 2010 classic “Kim Il Sung and the Temple of Doom.” If you’re visiting the nearby Hamgyong Concentration Camp, the Nuclear Test Facility is a must!!”

Either way, it appears that North Korea as a whole is the big winner—at least if you’re counting in one specific way.

Photo via (stephan)/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Jan 6, 2016, 2:37 pm CST