Is North Korea off limits for Inaturalist? and is it worth the trouble of photographing species there?

it was just a question that has been answered many, many, many, many, many, many times

i don’t need much of this hate from some of ya

as well as please scroll up!

Cade, I feel like there is a significant lack of understanding going on. (Certainly I do not understand your responses.)

Having no desire to agitate you further and believing myself to have been as clear as possible, I wish you success and enjoyable travels to the Galapagos.

Be well.


Out of curiosity, here are the species that are considered endemic to North Korea according to Living National Treasures, though I’ve found some inaccuracies and there are likely others:

  • Plestiodon coreensis (skink)

  • Misgurnus buphoensis (a loach, often considered conspecific with Misgurnus nikolskyi, but not on iNaturalist)

  • Gymnogobius bungei (a goby considered conspecific with Gymnogobius mororanus by iNaturalist and many other sources)

  • Nebria scaphelytra (ground beetle)

  • Synuchus coreanus (ground beetle)

  • Oedostethus pektusanicus (click beetle)

  • Selatosomus grandis (click beetle)

  • Atheta hamgyongsani (rove beetle)

  • Dinaraea koreana (rove beetle)

  • Chrysomela cyaneoviridis (leaf beetle)

  • Ceutorhynchus murzini (weevil)

  • Loxoblemmus spectabilis (cricket)

  • Psallus amoenus (plant bug, recorded from South Korea several times on iNaturalist)

  • Uhlerites gracilis (lace bug, considered conspecific with regional Uhlerities debilis on iNaturalist)

  • Rhyacophila kumgangsanica (caddisfly)

  • Athaumasta koreana (moth)

  • Rivula dubitatrix (moth, considered conspecific with the widespread Rivula sericealis on iNaturalist)

  • Calythea paektusana (fly)

  • Temnothorax cuneinodis (ant)

  • Temnothorax michali (ant, though recorded from South Korea several times on iNaturalist)

  • Janusius geumgangensis (springtail)

  • Oncopodura yosiiana (springtail)

  • Acopauropus szeptyckii (pauropod)

  • Lithobius mroczkowskii (centipede)

  • Skleroprotopus costatus (centipede)

  • Coreovitrea mroczkowskii (land snail)

  • Bryhnia alpicola (moss)

  • Tripterocladium coreanum (moss)

100+ vascular plant species, including:

  • Pulsatilla nivalis (pasque flower, though recorded from South Korea and nearby countries several times on iNaturalist)
  • Pseudostellaria baekdusanensis
  • Rheum coreanum (rhubarb)
  • Callianthemum insigne
  • Forsythia nakaii
  • Silene myongcheonensis (catchfly)
  • Thalictrum osmorhizoides (meadow-rue)
  • Potentilla coreana
  • Spiraea pseudocrenata
  • Euphrasia coreanalpina
  • Saussurea komaroviana
  • Astragalus setsureianus
  • Pedicularis nigrescens
  • Carex ochrochlamys (sedge)
  • Alnus vermicularis (alder)
  • Salix cacuminis (willow)
  • Picea pungsanensis (spruce)
  • Pentactina rupicola

As others have noted, documenting new species for iNat can be achieved in most parts of the world with varying degrees of difficulty. I share the desire to find as many species as possible, but I can attest that with dedication, it is possible to find species new to iNaturalist and new to science in areas that pose far less personal risk.

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why was this flagged???

out of everything i said THIS gets flagged?

Don’t get me wrong, i’m sure there is some neat ecology there, as with most places. But i think of California in the USA as a geographic equivalent if not the same climate and maybe similar topography. Due to the mountains, there is more differentiation by altitude than latitude. Despite high rates of endemism there are few things in the northern half of California that can’t be found either in the southern half of California or in Oregon. (though the Klamath Mountains are hard to beat for conifer diversity). Given the Korean peninsula is half the size of California it’s probably true there too.

I do wish i could see that endemic willow though. But i haven’t even found all the willow species in Vermont yet so…

Otherwise, i guess we just hope things improve so someday North Korea is open to the world and their regime not so oppressive. I’m the first to admit that my country, the United States, has plenty of problems and is not as rosy as it’s made out to be by some, but for sure North Korea’s government is in its own league of awful.

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Yea California is a goal of mine due to how MANY species you have


Closer to home, the coastal plain around the Gulf of Mexico is considered a global biodiversity hotspot that might be easier (and safer) to get to for observations. Check out the map on the Wikipedia page and note the blue regions that have been added to the original green ones.

You could also come explore the Southern Appalachians. Our area was ranked top priority for conservation in a paper looking at biodiversity hotspots outside of already protected areas in the US. Lots of endemics around here - some plants are limited to just a handful of mountain peaks - and probably still some undiscovered species lurking in these mountains as well as some that haven’t been seen in decades awaiting rediscovery. (Plus, our climate is much more pleasant, not as hot and humid as further south.)

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I assumed that you got my post having 50% sense of humor. I wasn’t trying to educate anyone with facts about anything NK. So sorry that you have endured the urge to shut me off.
Let’s all feel better now.

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Here’s my best advice:

  1. Invest in a decent portable moth-trap. That will get you a large number of nocturnal creatures (not just moths) everywhere you go.

  2. Figure out (if you haven’t already) how you will deal with creatures that require microscopic treatment - and indeed wholly microscopic creatures. That opens a large door to a much greater diversity of life.

  3. Break the task down into smaller goals so that you can strategise/prioritise and begin to shape how this goal will actually motivate you (since you state that you know it is impossible but aspirational). For example, 13000 new species are described every year, so 13000 lifers per year is what you need just in order not to end the year further from your goal than you started. That in itself would be an utterly monumental achievement, even just for one year.

  4. Have fun. Make sure that your goal remains a servant to you, and doesn’t become your master - it may be an epic motivational servant, but it could easily become a very cruel master. If it stops being fun or takes over your life, stop.

  5. As others have said there is plenty to keep you occupied for your entire life in easy to reach places. Don’t hurry to the hard places, instead play the long game. The NK regime might be different in a few decades’ time, and you can pop over and see those relatively few species that you can’t see in South Korea or China (not that China is particularly easy either at the moment). Wait and see, and meanwhile pile on the numbers somewhere else.

  6. Remember, continents will give you a larger number of species, but islands will give you a higher proportion of new species. Don’t neglect islands.

I’m sure you’ve already thought of much of that, but all the best with your endeavours wherever they take you.


yes islands are amazing

sadly i only explored this area before i had inaturalist, i really got to get back. The amphibians!

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It isn’t hate, it’s not understanding what you are getting at. I understand, I think. Some of us focus on a place because it is considered closed or off limits. I think of Richard Feynman, author of Tuva or Bust. Tuva is one of those “countries” within Russia, which in Feynman’s time was part of the Soviet Union, and the restrictions on Americans going there was part of why Feynman was so fascinated with it – that, and its indigenous culture related to that of the historic Mongols (Genghis Khan and all that). Or the various Western adventurers who made their way into Tibet before the Chinese takeover, when Tibet’s official policy was to exclude all outsiders. The allure of the forbidden is strong, for a certain kind of personality.

Unlike the others, I’m not going to advise you to forget it, or to go somewhere else instead. What I will say is that the kind of information you need is not going to be found here; the folks posting here are mostly more interested in the nature they can access than in getting into places they can’t.

I hate to discourage you, but despite Feynman’s many efforts, he never did get to Tuva.


so Russia as a whole is also a no go as well?

If you’re a US citizen i imagine so. Lots of Russian people on iNat though.

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even with the level 4 travel advisory, you can probably go to Russia as long as you understand and accept the situation there, and as long as you can get all the necessary visas and other paperwork and can find transportation into and out of the country.

that said, there are many other places that are easier to visit…

It was more so in Soviet times.

I’m going to close this thread. The original questions have been answered, there’s a lot of advice on the forum about how to increase one’s species count (eg and it’s strayed into a geopolitical realm that I think is beyond this forum’s purview.