Google Chief Heads to North Korea

Pair begin controversial 4-day visit
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2013 3:58 AM CST
Richardson, Google Chief Fly to North Korea
Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt, center, is chased by journalists as he prepares to check in at the Beijing Capital International Airport today.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(Newser) – Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson headed out today on their controversial four-day private visit to North Korea, Reuters reports. US officials have strongly criticized the visit—the first for Schmidt but at least the sixth for Richardson—because it comes as the UN Security Council is still debating how to respond to the country's rocket launch last month. Before the flight, Richardson called the trip a private, humanitarian mission, the AP reports.

"This is not a Google trip, but I'm sure (Schmidt is) interested in some of the economic issues there, the social media aspect. So this is why we are teamed up on this," Richardson said. "We'll meet with North Korean political leaders. We'll meet with North Korean economic leaders, military. We'll visit some universities. We don't control the visit. They will let us know what the schedule is when we get there," he said. Richardson is also expected to seek the release of Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American tour guide detained last year. (Read more Eric Schmidt stories.)

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