Financial News

  • 7 January 2013, 21:33

Google's Eric Schmidt Arrives In North Korea

Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt has arrived in North Korea for the highest-profile visit by an American CEO since Kim Jong-Un took power a year ago.

Mr Schmidt arrived on a commercial Air China flight with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who has travelled more than half a dozen times to North Korea over the past 20 years.

Mr Richardson, speaking ahead of the flight from Beijing, called the trip a private, humanitarian mission.

"This is not a Google trip, but I'm sure he's interested in some of the economic issues there, the social media aspect. So this is why we are teamed up on this," he 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 added.

The visit has drawn criticism from the US State Department because it comes only weeks after North Korea fired a satellite into space using a long-range rocket.

Washington condemned the December 12 launch - which it considers a test of ballistic missile technology - as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

The Security Council is deliberating whether to take further action.

"We don't think the timing of the visit is helpful, and they are well aware of our views," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters last week.

The visit has also prompted speculation about what the businessman hopes to accomplish.

Computer use is gaining ground in North Korea's larger cities.

But most North Koreans only have access to a domestic intranet system, not the World Wide Web.

Internet use is still strictly regulated and allowed only with approval.

Mr Schmidt, a staunch proponent of internet connectivity and openness, is expected to make a donation during the visit.

Mr Richardson will try to discuss the detention of Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who was jailed by Pyongyang in December on spying charges.

Advertisement