NASA images from space show North Korea shrouded in darkness
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 0901 GMT (1701 HKT)
Where did North Korea go? Pyongyang looks like a tiny island in a sea of darkness in recent photos captured by NASA .
- Images taken from space at night show North Korea as a black spot
- Lights from cities and infrastructure flicker across other East Asian nations
- NASA says lights at nighttime illustrate a city's "relative economic importance"
(CNN) -- Give an astronaut on the International Space Station a digital camera and you're bound to end up with some astounding images -- especially if they're flying above North Korea.
When the space station passed over East Asia one night recently, a member of NASA's Expedition 38 crew took a series of photographs that show just how off-the-grid the Hermit Kingdom really is.
While thriving cities and major roads are seen glowing across South Korea and China, the landscape between the two countries is so dark that it's difficult to tell where the sea ends and North Korea begins.
Pyongyang "appears like a small island," says NASA, noting that the light emission from the North Korean capital is equivalent to the smaller towns of its neighbor to the south.
The space agency, which turned the images into a timelapse video, says city lights at night are a good indicator of the relative affluence of cities.
Looking at the images, it's hardly a surprise that energy use is dramatically different on either side of the 38th parallel. In South Korea, per capita power consumption is 10,162 kilowatt hours while in North Korea the figure is 739 kilowatt hours, according to World Bank data.
Read: Images from space track relentless spread of humanity
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1521 GMT (2321 HKT)
The first human trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine has produced promising results, U.S. scientists said.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1415 GMT (2215 HKT)
Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teen in August abandoned home after address made public.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 2236 GMT (0636 HKT)
HBO -- backing a documentary based on "Going Clear," a book about Scientology and Hollywood -- isn't taking any chances with legal side.
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1935 GMT (0335 HKT)
Grandmaster Nguyen Van Chieu has devoted his adult life to spreading the word about Vietnames martial art, Vovinam.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
England cricketer Nick Compton shares insight into "drive and courage" it takes to face fears as top batsman.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 0059 GMT (0859 HKT)
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1703 GMT (0103 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.