international intrigue

Google’s Eric Schmidt Feigns Interest in North Korean Computer Lab

Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, takes photographs as he tours a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Schmidt is the highest-profile U.S. executive to visit North Korea - a country with notoriously restrictive online policies-since young leader Kim Jong Un took power a year ago.
Better get a shot of that computer. Photo: David Guttenfelder/AP/Corbis

We now know that former U.N. ambassador and diplomatic utility man Bill Richardson has traveled to North Korea, where he arrived last night, in the hopes of freeing Kenneth Bae, an American citizen who was detained there in November. However, it’s still totally unclear why Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Schmidt’s grown daughter, and director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen are on the trip as well. Before leaving Shanghai for Beijing yesterday, Richardson told reporters, “This is not a Google trip, but I’m sure [Schmidt is] interested in some of the economic issues there, the social-media aspect.” I’m sure. In other words, he has no idea.

Whatever Schmidt’s intentions are, his first day in Pyongyang included a tour of a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University. (Richardson told reporters yesterday that “North Korea would decide the itinerary of the trip and the group would be informed after arriving,” according to The Wall Street Journal.) Schmidt can be seen above taking a photo of a very unexceptional computer.

Eric Schmidt Feigning Interest in North Korea