Questions about surveying in Busan


I’m an OSM contributor from India, and I’m trying to organize an OSM mapping party at DebConf24 (i.e. July 28th to August 4th) in PKNU, Busan…but I’ve never been to South Korea before, and I expect many participants to be foreign visitors. For that reason, I had a few questions.

Participants will use Every Door to survey in the following 18 areas. We expect each area to get 3-4 mappers - one in micromapping mode, one adding building details and addresses, and one or two adding shops and amenities. This way, we can involve between 50~70 participants.

Is it legal to use aerial imagery (and apps like Every Door/Vespucci) in South Korea?

Somebody pointed me to Restrictions on geographic data in South Korea - Wikipedia which put me in doubt, but someone else said that it only applied to export of government-made map/imagery data, and thus did not hamper OSM use and contribution. Can more local mappers confirm if that’s the case?

How safe are the areas around PKNU for surveying?

Are the highlighted areas open to the public, or are we likely to be stopped by guards or residents?

Are there any objections from the local mappers?

I hope the mappers in Busan have no objections to me hosting this party. It is my constant endeavor to try and prevent errors through effective teaching, and I also review changes after each party to correct errors. Still, I’m new to the area and may be unaware of local conventions (especially given that I don’t know Korean), so some errors may still get through.


That’s very cool! And welcome to Korea!

There seems to be a misunderstanding about using satellite imagery.
What the Korean government prohibits is that satellite imagery and geographic information generated under the Korean government’s initiative is not allowed to leave the country.
In other words, satellite imagery and geographic information created outside of Korea is not subject to Korean law.
And in many cases, if you’re not a Korean citizen, your satellite imagery will not be subject to Korean law.

The area is completely open.
However, OSM is not a well-known service in South Korea, and Koreans are generally wary of what others think of them, so it is possible that your exploration of the area may arouse suspicion.
Therefore, if you carry an introduction to OSM and OSM activities in Korean and ask for cooperation if necessary, it is likely to reduce friction.
(Of course, in most cases, there shouldn’t be any problems, but…)
I’m sure there are probably Korean people in your area who could help, but if not, I’ll see what I can do in the Korean community.

Other than that, I don’t see any reason why Korean mappers should be against such a good cause.
Although there aren’t many OSM mappers in Korea, we’d rather help them out as much as possible.
Thank you.

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Oh hey! Thanks for mapping out our city. I have a personal connection to this area, so I think I can give some clear answers.

The part that’s illegal is the export of imagery and survey data from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and their derivatives (i.e., all commercial maps). External imagery such as ESRI and self surveying are legal, and indeed the Korean OSM community has been working with it without problems.

Aside from the purple area, those are mostly residential. I believe almost none of them are gated. Also notable is that because of the 2 universities nearby the area sees a higher number of foreigners than other residential areas.

Unfortunately I am not aware if there is a local mapping community to speak of; the contributions, including mine, are mostly ad-hoc. Personally I believe we need any help we can get; Busan, like most of the cities in Korea (possibly in other countries as well), has swathes of small irregular detached buildings that remain mostly unmapped and poorly tagged. It’s tedious to work in such areas as a single mapper, so any help is appreciated, especially from experienced mappers. Although I am currently unable to visit the area, I could help catch obvious mistakes.


I think this needs a lot of contributors. In addition to our OSM Korea community members, why don’t we have a mapping party by bringing in the Korea Debian user group and the Korea Ubuntu user group, and so on? I think it’s a good opportunity to create the map for the people who participate in DebConf24 and promote OSM in Korea at the same time.

By the way, Han Youngbin, the president of Ubuntu Korea Community, is also living in Busan. I think it will be possible to promote it.

사람이 좀 많이 필요하겠네요. 우리 OSM 한국 커뮤니티뿐만 아니라 한국 데비안 사용자 모임과 한국 우분투 사용자 모임 등까지 끌어들여서 매핑 파티를 여는 건 어떨까요? DebConf24에 참여하는 사람들을 위한 지도도 만들고, 그러면서 겸사겸사 국내에 OSM을 홍보할 수도 있는 좋은 기회인 것 같습니다.

참고로 우분투한국커뮤니티의 회장을 맡고 계시는 한영빈 님께서도 부산에 거주하시는 걸로 알고 있어요. 홍보는 충분히 가능할 것 같습니다.

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주최 쪽에서 동의한다면 아주 좋은 방법이라고 생각합니다.
사실 OSM 한국 커뮤니티로서도 자꾸 모임을 추진해 보는 것이 여러 동인이 되어 줄 것 같은데, 그런 점에서 아주 좋은 기회가 되어주지 않을까 싶습니다.

If the organizers agree, I think it’s a great idea.

Thank you everyone for your enthusiastic answers. That clears up most of my doubts.

This is a great idea, thanks. It reminded me to start working on some flyers for handing out to people, which will introduce them to OSM, Organic Maps, OsmAnd, and (for those interested) beginner-friendly editing software. Do people in the highlighted areas read/speak English? If not, I may need the help of the community in translating the flyers into Korean.

Thanks for the suggestion! While it’s not a dealbreaker if we do not get enough people to cover all the highlighted areas, it’s definitely an exciting prospect to be working with the Korean OSM, Debian, and Ubuntu communities. It will also help us add data from any Korean-only signs, and in communicating with the residents of the survey areas should the need arise. I’ll share the date and time of the mapping party when I receive it from the DebConf team, so these communities can also participate.

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It’s not a big deal, but I’ll give you a little background to help you prepare.
As is often the case in agrarian societies, Korea has long been a tight-knit community based on agriculture, and there hasn’t been much mass immigration in recent centuries, so there’s still a tendency for people to see their community’s territory as their own.
In addition, in modern times, due to the division of the North and South and dictatorships, older people tend to be wary of anyone acting suspiciously.
As a result, while they are generally friendly, they may be wary of anyone who does something out of the ordinary within their territory.
They may also be suspicious of civilian-driven mapping because they don’t know much about OSM.
As a result, there may be a need to educate them about behavior that is out of the ordinary within their own or their community’s territory.
So I think you might need a Korean who can simply introduce OSM and inform them of its activities and help you communicate with them in case of problems.
(Even if the Korean doesn’t accompany you to the site, I think they should be able to explain things over the phone or something.)

Incidentally, in urban areas in Korea, younger people may be able to speak or understand very simple English, but otherwise, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect them to be able to communicate.
It’s a good idea to memorize or write a few Korean greetings just in case, and I think the sincerity of using a translation application if necessary will go a long way in easing your guard.

Addendum: In case I wasn’t clear enough after reading the comments below, you don’t have to intentionally hand out notices in public.
The idea was that if anyone had any doubts or questions about the map survey activity, it would be nice to have a notice to clear up any doubts.


Since the main road is a commercial area where an unspecified number of people pass, the act of surveying there will not be intrusive at all. Rather, the act of distributing flyers is more likely to attract people’s attention than mapping. On the other hand, residential areas located in alleys on the side of the main road have few facilities available to outsiders, so if you do time-consuming tasks such as surveying there, local residents may pose problems.

I think it’s good to communicate with the OSM Korea community like now. There will be many Koreans who will participate in the international event held in Korea, and the mapping party will also bring together people of various nationalities, including Koreans. You can teach English speakers how to use the Every Door or StreetComplete app, and we can do it for Korean speakers. We can also interpret with local people through us.

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By the way, Would you let me know where the map style is from? It looks nice to me.

Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, it was never my intention to just have mappers hand out flyers willy-nilly - rather, to only have the mappers hand them out when someone asks them about what they were doing. :slightly_smiling_face: I could try to ensure that each team has at least one Korean community member. Alternatively, the suggestion of having someone on the phone sounds good too.

Also, could the Korean OSM community go through the Korean translations for Every Door and StreetComplete? While the mapping party is still awaiting confirmation from the DebConf team, if it is accepted we’ll need to have the translations ready and released well in advance.

@LuxuryCoop Glad you liked it! It’s GitHub - enzet/map-machine: Python renderer for OpenStreetMap with custom icons intended to display as many map features as possible with the isometric buildings option.


Just to raise awareness: Address-schemas vary from country to country. So if you intend to map it in a foreign country, that needs some further introduction before you start to survey data :wink:

In some countries just recording the house number might be not enough.