North Korean Ballistic Missile Map

Since the 1980s North Korea has been developing and building a nuclear arsenal in order to secure a stronghold amongst the modern day world powers. Under the reign of the current president, Kim Jong Un, North Korea has become especially hostile and open in regards to their nuclear program. Kim Jong Un has made it clear that he will stop at no means to continue to strengthen his armory. While his people are starving and dying, and major world peace organizations continue to threaten him, Un continues to allocate billions of dollars to his nuclear program with his intentions unknown. The map above shows the strike radius for each nuclear weapon that North Korea is known to possess to date. The map has specific features that, upon further examination, show the author’s purpose for making this map.


This map titled simply: Range of North Korean Ballistic Missiles, is made by an unknown author by the United States Geological Survey. This organization is a government funded organization which holds a $1.1 billion dollar budget. In its mission statement, the organization claims that its main goal is to “provide science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change” (U.S. Geological Survey). This does not explain why the organization would be making a map on North Korean ballistic missile capabilities. Perhaps it speaks to the duality and ambiguity of the bureaucracy. Nonetheless, this map is most definitely authored by the United States government in an effort to give its citizens a perspective on the growing concern in North Korea. The map is North-Korean-centric and projected in a more three-dimensional matter. These selections are chosen by the map maker so that the missile ranges, the subject of the map, are not distorted, and so that the map is easy to read and more visually appealing to its audience. Upon further examination into the choices of the mapmaker, the intentions become clear. The overwhelming majority of the locations highlighted and labeled by the map are areas of US interests. Tokyo, Guam, Anchorage, Hawaii, San Francisco, Denver, and Los Angeles are all locations that are part of the United States or serve a particular US interest. All of these locations are shown within the missile range of North Korea. The map also highlights other major American cities of New York, Chicago and Washington D.C., which do not appear within the radius of the North Korean missiles but lie just outside of it.

These choices by the mapmaker are obviously pointed and show not only his biases but also his intentions of making the map. By choosing mainly places of US interests to highlight on his map, the map maker is overtly trying to persuade someone to take action in North Korea. The map may work better than a graph or chart in this respect to show the people the imminence of a long-range missile threat. Graphs and charts may be able to show this idea, but it is not This map is clearly designed as a fear tactic aimed at American politicians and their constituents to provoke action. The mapmaker is showing that the North Korean nuclear program is a real threat, and seems to suggest that Americans should take action. However, the mapmaker does this in a more abstract way than one might expect. He does not include destruction or human costs in his map, but instead, he only includes missile names and ranges. This aspect of the map is attributed to an effort to make the map concise. The mapmaker does not want to include too much information, he instead wants to make his map easy to read and straightforward. He is using a type of fear tactic, but it seems he would rather help his audience understand a threat instead of scaring his audience.


The situation in North Korea continues to be a growing issue. The UN has been pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear aspirations, but Kim Jong Un and his posse continue to execute tests and develop the more advanced nuclear technology. The United States is aware of the growing threat in North Korea and uses maps like this one to inform its people of the threat. Such information from the U.S. government may be seen as a type of propaganda, but it is an essential component of uniting the American people against imminent threats like North Korea’s ballistic missile program.



Estepa, Jessica. “From the Armada to ‘Rocket Man’: A brief history of Trump’s war of words with North Korea.” USA Today. September 22, 2017. Accessed October 31, 2017.

“Ex-N.K. military chief says its long-range rocket can hit U.S.” Thai Military and Asian Region. June 06, 2017. Accessed October 31, 2017.

“North Korea Nuclear Timeline Fast Facts.” CNN. September 04, 2017. Accessed October 31, 2017.—fast-facts/index.html.

“U.S. Geological Survey.” | Science for a changing world. Accessed October 31, 2017.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to North Korean Ballistic Missile Map

  1. Karim Naous says:

    This map is very interesting as it shows how dangerous North Korea is, or could be. The media creates the image that North Korea is a failed state with an insane leader that might attack the United States at any time; and while I believe that the danger of the US being attacked by North Korea is way overblown, this map does reveal that North Korea actually poses a real threat with its nuclear program. I liked how you noticed that the map focuses on the presence of cities in America, and its allies, within the range of the nuclear weapons, showing that the map aims to provoke fear within the people of those countries. You do a good job of revealing the map maker’s hidden intentions of encouraging action against North Korea.

  2. Alexander Rakos says:

    Wonderful choice of a map Christian. The projection the mapmaker choose has enlightened me to see the North Korean threat in an entirely different light and I thank you for your intriguing points on why the mapmaker made this choice. Before this map I always assumed that California was the closest state from North Korea and I failed to realize that the distortion of a map you might see hanging on a wall tends to hide the closeness of Alaska to Asia. It also shows the powerfulness of the propaganda in this map since I personally would be exceedingly more afraid of North Korea if I lived in Anchorage. While reading your blog I was pleased that you added context to how the situation is being dealt with around the world. This map was a great addition to the blog.

Comments are closed.