South Korea Mapping Guide

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South Korea Mapping Guide

This page is for specific information about the tasks of collecting data and creating maps for South Korea using a remote collaboration model that allows the separation of the data collection and mapping tasks.

By separating these tasks the relatively few data collectors in South Korea can concentrate on collecting data in Korea while other people from anywhere in the world can use JOSM to create the maps. It may also be possible to further divide the data collection tasks so that those with GPS equipment can collect track and waypoint data while others collect other information, e.g. streetnames, at another time. Data collectors may still choose to edit their own data.

Please visit the WikiProject Korea page often for updated information about mapping Korea in general.

It is not necessary to live in Korea to help with the Korea mapping project. The mapping section of this page discusses mapping tasks that can be completed from anywhere. See WikiProject Korea for other ways you can help.


At this time OSM mapping in Korea consists of recording GPS tracks, waypoints and ground level observations, and then drawing maps based on that data using a program like JOSM. While the collection of data requires a presence in Korea and the area being mapped in particular, the drawing of the maps can be done from anywhere in the world.

It is important to know that you can't use sources of information you don't own the copyright to without permission. This should not be an issue for tasks described on this page, but for more information see the OpenStreetMap License and the Legal FAQ for details.

There are two factors influencing priorities. First, it makes sense to map areas where data is available. This means that the most detailed information will probably be near where data collectors live. Second, mapping the major roads first will create the most usable product in the shortest amount of time while providing a framework for future mapping.

Contributers should be familiar with both the data collection tasks and the mapping tasks even if intending to work on only one set of tasks.

Keep in mind that the OSM project uses the term highway in the broadest sense to mean any kind of road, path, or trail. This means that hiking trails, bike paths, gravel roads, residential streets, staircases, and many other things are called highways. The first data recorded should be highway tags that gives a general description of the road or path.

Collecting Data

Even if you are only making maps and not collecting data this section will help you to understand the data that you will be using.

Considering the cost of fuel it makes sense to collect as much data as possible if using a vehicle. If there is not time nor the mode of transportation does not allow detailed data collection then we can consider certain kinds of information to have priority over others.

GPS Tracks

Tracks are the easiest GPS data to collect. If you do not have time to stop and set waypoints or collect other data then collecting tracks is an almost effortless way of contributing. Setting your GPS unit to collect a point every second seems to work well. If your unit allows you to dump the data to a memory card then the higher resolution will not cause a memory problem. If your unit has limited memory then you may want to experiment with the settings for your unit and load the tracks into JOSM to see if they look good. While you can load the tracks into JOSM from a file it is best if you contribute them to the OSM project. The Beginners Guide 1.2.2 has step by step instructions.

Collecting by time interval works well because it causes the points to be further apart when traveling straight and closer together when slowing down to go around corners. You might want to turn off the track logging when near home, work, or other places you frequently visit for privacy reasons. See Privacy policy.

In or on a vehicle mind antenna placement. Outside the vehicle will give the best reception. Inside the vehicle the front window is probably best, particularly if it is sloped. Be careful of overheating the device. GPS tends to work OK on buses because of their large windows. On motorcycles, motor scooters and bicycles windscreen frames, handlebars, fairings and the rider's body can block reception of the signals.


A waypoint is a particular location marked in your GPS. Usually your GPS will give each point a number as a default name. Most people find it easier to make notes about the waypoints on paper or record notes with a voice recorder than to enter notes into the GPS unit. Waypoints should be collected along with track data to put the waypoints in context.

  • When marking a change in highway attributes or other linear features waypoints work best in pairs. E.g. Gravel between 223 and 229, or 222 to 223 bridge.
  • Some items like bus stops or public toilets can be represented by a single waypoint.
  • Items that cover a large area can be marked by a single waypoint if the object or feature can be discerned by the path. E.g. If you travel the perimeter of a school building and mark it with a single waypoint you should be able to use the path to determine the shape, location and orientation of the school so a waypoint at each corner of the building is not necessary. Sometimes items that will be obvious by your path can be noted without using a waypoint if you record a relative location, but it's better if you record a waypoint. E.g. School between waypoint 234 and 235, or Parking lot south of Bus Station.

It may not be convenient to collect all the data in one trip. In that case please prioritize waypoints and information relative to the highway tag. The second priority would be route network and number.

Here are the main situations you should collect waypoints for, somewhat in order of importance:

  • Changes in the kind of road, pavement type, number of lanes or other road changes
  • Network and route number changes
  • The location of signs that describe the highway
  • Fuel Stations
  • Landmarks useful for navigation
  • Named intersections
  • The location of pictures taken for mapping purposes
  • The ends of bridges
  • The ends of tunnels
  • The ends of stairways
  • Route network and number changes
  • Street name changes
  • Bus stops
  • Subway station exit locations
  • Subway elevators
  • Public toilets
  • Landmarks
  • Important places
  • Speed cameras
  • ATM machines
  • Police stations
  • Fire stations
  • Schools

Drawing Maps

To draw maps you will draw lines and nodes representing the various highways and objects using a software program that will allow you to see the GPS tracks.

Use the tags in Korea tagging guide to tag the ways you create. (Currently, we need more features in Korea tagging guide.)

There are actually a few different software programs for drawing OSM maps, but the most popular is JOSM. The JOSM gives an overview of how to use the program and links to the official website and other information sources.

When the program starts it asks you to download data from the OSM server. This does not work well for Korea. It is better to open a file on your local computer first to define a download area. If you don't have one on your computer then use your browser to download this file 33944.gpx form the OSM server.

After downloading you might want to create a directory specifically for mapping and put 33944.gpx inside of it. Use the file menu in JOSM to open the 33944.gpx file. The track data from 33944.gpx will now be listed as a layer in the layers window. (You can click the thumbtack to detach a window and resize it.)

Now download the a file containing waypoints and track data to your computer using your browser. The file is 34422.gpx and put it in your mapping directory. Use the file menu in JOSM to open it. This will add more track points and labeled waypoints.

In the layers window use the red and blue eye button to hide and show individual layers. (You can click the thumbtack to detach a window and resize it.)

Use the zoom controls and your right mouse button to adjust your view so the waypoint information fills the viewing window.

Now when you select "Download from OSM server" in the Connection menu it will show a tiny yellow box over South Korea representing the area displayed in the viewing window. Click OK and it should download additional layers of information.

The data it downloads from the server will include additional track data and OSM data. Again use the red and blue eye button to show and hide layers.

Feel free to play around and draw anything you want while learning just don't upload the results of your playing to the server. You can delete the layer and start over.

When you are ready to upload changes to the server make sure you do a download first. The sequence is:

  • Open the software
  • Download
  • Edit
  • Download
  • Check for conflicts
  • Upload
  • Download
  • Edit
  • Upload
  • Download
  • Edit

Copyright note

It is important to only use information that is compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license. This means you can contribute GPS data you record, information about the world that you observe, and draw a maps based on information collected by another OSM contributer. Information from other sources may only be used if it is released under a compatible license, there is a special agreement with OSM, or it is verifiably in the public domain. See Project:Copyrights for more details.