Around 10 pm EST last night, news of Kim Jong-il's death broke and quickly spread. But in contrast with the news's velocity once it left North Korean borders, word of Kim's death was initially very slow to move; apparently, more than two days had passed since he had died. The above image helps illustrate why. Taken from NASA's Earth at Night, a composite of more than 400 satellite images, it shows what connected places such as South Korea, Japan, and much of China look like, and, then at its center, is the void of North Korea, unlit, cut off from the rest of the world.
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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees coverage of American constitutional law and government in the Battle for the Constitution series.