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

(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." (Read more North Korea stories.)

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