Gulags in North Korea have started to get joke reviews from Google Maps users.
At the time of writing, Yodok Concentration Camp had received some 93 reviews, while others, such as Hwasong Gulag and Kaechon Gulag No. 14 had a more modest 24.
Yodok Concentration Camp in South Hampgyong has a 3.6-star rating.
Joke reviews include Dan Shouse’s, which reads: “The pool is very nice and the food, or the lack there of, is to die for. I would give five stars except the front desk keeps insisting my check out time is not until tomorrow; every day it is “not today sir, tomorrow. Now please enjoy the free crossfit boot camp until tomorrow.” Strange.”
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Robert McKay wrote: “I really enjoyed chopping wood all day. I lost tons of weight (60lbs in 2 weeks!), and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper (it’s free!) than the Capitalist Pigs who make Jenny Craig.”
Among all the mickey-taking there are one or two cries that this might be just a tad, well, distasteful.
Antonio DiSalvatori wrote as a Google Maps review of a gulag: “I hate this. Someone is sick enough to put people through this. […]When I heard the stories from her accounts in the concentration camps, I thought that the Nazis were so stupid and no one else would end up doing this.
“I was wrong and from what I have heard, these concentration camps are very similar to the ones in Europe in the 1940s. They do human tests, they force labor, and they have gas chambers as well. All of you making a joke out of this need to stop and if that is the North Korean government talking, then there needs to be something done against this.”
Jack Jay wrote in the review section of Kaechon Gulag No. 14: “All these mock ‘reviews’ are disgusting. To flaunt your freedom of speech, movement, expression and political rights in such a disrespectful manner is outright horrendous in the face of the situation in the North.”
But other reviewers have refuted claims that the joke reviews are disrespectful, with John Finnerty writing as a gulag Google maps review: “Our humor about the Gulags is a a mockery of the state itself. The fact that they are listed on Google maps is outstanding, so a post regarding a poor rating of the Gulag is not a slight on the horrors that take place, but a giant middle finger to the state for having them in the first place.”
Other commenters just can’t help themselves. Grace McLaughlin wrote: “Okay guys. I hate the camps and yes I have read camp 14 and every other book about NK but I can’t resist giving a review.” She then goes on to write a mock review.
You can read all the reviews by typing “gulags in North Korea” into Google Maps.
Props to The Independent for spotting this divisive internet fad. Fewer props to Google Maps for enabling reviews on the gulags in the first place.
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