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A Google Maps Glitch Turned This Korean Fishing Town Into a 'Pokemon Go' Haven (vice.com) 82

Madison Margolin, reporting for Motherboard: A glitch in Google Maps has turned the small fishing town of Sokcho, South Korea, into a Pokemon Go tourist haven. The globally popular mobile game hasn't launched yet in South Korea, but that hasn't stopped clever gamers from finding a way to play it anyways. The city of Sokcho is taking full advantage of it, according to this video by the Wall Street Journal. Because of Cold War era laws preventing North Korea from obtaining maps of the country, the use of Google Maps is restricted in South Korea, the WSJ reports. However, a fluke in the system allows it to work in Sokcho, in the northeast corner of the country, just outside the DMZ (demilitarized zone) between North and South Korea. Sokcho is outside the range of indexing grids that Pokemon Go developers used for mapping restrictions of South Korea and other countries.
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A Google Maps Glitch Turned This Korean Fishing Town Into a 'Pokemon Go' Haven

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This shouldn't be too much of an issue for Pokeman Go.

    Missile Command Go however will be a completely different story.

  • by eepok ( 545733 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @02:52PM (#52542649) Homepage
    The video glossed over it and the article said practically nothing. Some of you probably understand the issue, so here's your chance to earn some points!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Restricted area includes all of SK except for this town, because it is above the latitude line defining the DMZ, which was used as SK boundary.

    • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @03:00PM (#52542717) Homepage

      Certain areas, such as the entire country of South Korea, are legally forbidden from using GPS style location determination. They are afraid an invading army/missile will use it for targeting.

      They put a lock on such services based on geography.

      But the lock is not perfect, it uses a grid to determine which areas are GPS allowable and which are not.

      The grid is supposed to exclude all of South Korea, but a small town happens to be just outside of their grid. So GPS devices work there.

      Pokemon Go requires access to your GPS as part of the game (or rather, they designed the game to need access to your GPS so they can get your geolocation for advertising purposes).

      As such, you can't play Pokemon Go in South Korea, EXCEPT in that one small village.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        so just use GLONASS instead. it bypasses US GPS lock Sillyness.

      • by eepok ( 545733 )
        You, ma'am/sir, would win my points were I able to score posts after having made a post.
      • by pla ( 258480 )
        or rather, they designed the game to need access to your GPS so they can get your geolocation for advertising purposes

        I would normally agree with you, but PoGo has exactly zero ads in it (not even the voluntary "Watch this short ad for a buff" type so common in Freemium games). Nor, for that matter, have I received a single even remotely spammy email of any kind at the throwaway GMail account I used to register.

        Really, no need - People apparently can't throw money at it fast enough. Can't say I quite
      • Certain areas, such as the entire country of South Korea, are legally forbidden from using GPS style location determination.

        I was in South Korea last month, and played Ingress, used Google Maps, and used Uber, all over Seoul and various areas outside of it (including on a trip up to the DMZ). My phone was definitely using GPS location. Network location is much less precise and your location bounces around a lot. Wifi-based location is quite precise, but only in areas where there are a lot of APs -- which is certainly the case in Seoul, but definitely not the case in outside of it.

        So, your statement seems reasonable, but is inc

        • Your phone did NOT use GPS location. Instead it used CELL TOWER location. GPS stands for Global Positioning System, and uses US military satellites. The exact same satellites the US uses to target missiles.

          Your phone never communicated with the GPS satellites that orbit the planet. Instead it communicated with cell towers on the ground.

          That is why the network location appeared 'much less precise' and "bounces around a lot'.

          And yes, wifi location

          • Your phone did NOT use GPS location. Instead it used CELL TOWER location.

            That's what I meant by "network location". And, yes, it is much less precise and bounces around a lot... which my location in SK did *not* do. I pointed out those characteristics of network/cell tower location to make clear that that's NOT what my phone was doing.

            • Ah. I see. Your mistake is simple. You confused what your phone does and what Pokémon GO does.

              Pokémon Go software uses actual, real GPS, not merely the location services. Basically it puts a fake picture of a fake pokemon at a location, as if it was invisible to the human eye, but visible to the phone camera.

              It can't do that unless it knows precisely where you are. The general location from cell towers is not good enough to keep the fake picture in the same real location.

              • Ah. I see. Your mistake is simple. You confused what your phone does and what Pokémon GO does.

                Dude, your condescension is both obnoxious and completely unwarranted.

                I understand perfectly well the difference between cell tower triangulation, Wifi AP triangulation, GPS (2D & 3D, with and without WAAS)... and I'm telling you that my phone had good GPS reception in South Korea. I only once checked to see how many satellites it was seeing... from my hotel room window it could get only four. Outdoors, though, precision and accuracy were both excellent, to the point I didn't bother opening the GPS to

              • Nope. Have you played Pokemon Go?
        • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
          Since the rest of the thread seems to have devolved into a lot of name calling, here is some results from 5 minutes of google searching:

          http://www.wsj.com/articles/go... [wsj.com]

          http://ogleearth.com/2012/07/c... [ogleearth.com]

          In short, the restriction is not specifically on GPS, it's on mapping services in general. So they can use GPS to determine your location, but they're not allowed to show the details of the location you are at in high detail. Since you can see a (not very useful) map in Pokemon Go i guess it falls und
          • On the other hand the jitteryness of the location reported by GPS that you observed may or may not have been due to GPS jamming by North Korea

            I must have written that really unclearly :-)

            I did *not* see jitteriness of my location while in South Korea. It was rock solid and very precise, in both Google Maps and Ingress. I mentioned that network location does not have those characteristics to support my assertion that my phone was using GPS, not network location.

      • by neoRUR ( 674398 )
        So not only do they get Pokemon first, they will also get the first North Korea ICBM first?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I live in South Korea.

        I am not sure what the article is about (not interested in Pokemon GO), but I can tell you that GPS works just fine.
        Car navigation systems are based on GPS. Enabling GPS on the phone increases location accuracy in Google maps (which also work just fine).

        From time to time North Korea messes with the GPS signal which is evident when your car's navigation system things your driving in the yellow sea, but apart from that I have not had any problems with Google Maps or GPS here.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Apparently, Niantic Labs, the company in partnership with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company and a main driver of the augmented reality genre has had previous issues with their games in Korea. This may be roughly linked with Korea’s outdated laws that restrict the use of mapping data as that has in turn slowed down Google Maps ability to gain a foothold within Korea. Users of the Niantic’s other augmented reality game, Ingress, had been complaining for years about playing in a black landscape

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Kotaku had a much better explanation with a map showing the satelite picture explanation:
      http://kotaku.com/desperate-to-play-pokemon-go-korean-gamers-travel-nort-1783639786

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Residents of the small fishing town will "overfish" the water pokemon and endanger most species in the process.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is a mapping issue in South Korea. Niantic implemented a geo-fence until this is resolved. The grid system used covers all but the far northeastern corner of the country.

    • by inking ( 2869053 )
      Do you really expect more from an outlet that runs articles titled "Does Donald Trump Have A Soul"? Even the video they link to isn't their own; it's from WSJ.
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @02:57PM (#52542691)

    Because of Cold War era laws preventing North Korea from obtaining maps of the country, the use of Google Maps is restricted in South Korea

    Erm, preventing the use of Google Maps in South Korea does nothing. For this to have the desired effect, you have to prevent the use of Google Maps in North Korea, or you have to prevent Google from mapping South Korea.

    I'm in the U.S. and can browse South Korea on Google Maps. It even has extensive street view photos to help any would-be North Korean spy to learn the lay of the land. So that government policy is doing nothing to prevent North Korea from getting maps of South Korea. All it's doing is preventing South Koreans from using Google Maps (which may in fact be the real purpose).

    • Does this mean that South Koreans don't have the benefit of GPS navigators?

      • Does this mean that South Koreans don't have the benefit of GPS navigators?

        Not from what I saw. Uber drivers in Seoul certainly use them. My phone (with Google Maps) also worked just fine... way too accurate and smooth to have been using network location, and it worked well outside the city which means it couldn't rely on Wifi location.

  • Google glass was a bust... Hololens, maybe?
  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @03:12PM (#52542781) Homepage

    seeing young/grown adults acting like that towards a video game.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Would you prefer they act like that towards a spectator sport?
      Would you prefer they act like that towards a group of aging musicians who haven't done anything new in 15 years?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You mean "having fun"? Terrifying!

    • A slashdot nerd who is AGAINST video games? I don't think you belong here, turn in your card! :)

    • Sportsball is so much more normal, right? Why can't we all just act like sportsballers?
  • Most Pokemon have migrated to North Korea for safety. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, Kim having the only smartphone, got the Pokemon Go bug and is now touring the country in an attempt to "catch 'em all".

  • The globally popular mobile game hasn't launched yet in South Korea

    Makes sense; it hasn't released worldwide yet, but

    the use of Google Maps is restricted in South Korea

    ... which means that until this changes, it can't ever be released in South Korea; Pokemon Go uses Google Maps as an important integral part of the game!

  • Checking some geocaching forums no one in South Korea mentions GPS issues and there are plenty of caches in the country.
    You do have issues with north korea jamming GPS signals. http://www.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]
    Instead of GPS being illegal what is happening is that Pokemon GO is not enable for SK. This is done by the methods mentioned except that the place mentioned in the article is not part of the country block.

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