Google Honcho Prods N. Korea for Missile Ban, Open Web

Humanitarian trip with Richardson draws fire

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 9, 2013 10:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Google exec Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are two days into their controversial visit to North Korea, and the AP has details on what they're up to: They're pressing Kim Jong Un and Co. for broader online access and more cell phones in what Richardson calls a private, humanitarian trip. They're also advocating a moratorium on missile launches (like the one that took place last month) and urging the release of a detained US citizen. The State Department is unamused, with one rep slamming the trip as "ill-advised." And John Bolton bashed the pair as having "joined the long list of Americans and others used by the Kim family dictatorship for political advantage."

So far, the delegation has visited the Kim Il Sung University, an upper class school where students have reportedly had access to the Internet since 2010. There, students showed Schmidt and Richardson how they use Google to do research. However, even computers at Pyongyang's main library are only connected to a highly controlled intranet, and government clearance is usually required for people who want to access the full web. If that changes, Richardson said, North Korean citizens will be "better off."

Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt tours a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, center, tries on 3-D glasses as he looks at North Korean-developed computer technology during a tour of the Korean Computer Center.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt stands on a balcony overlooking Juche Tower in Pyongyang, North Korea on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Eric Schmidt stands near a statue of the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
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