Eric Schmidt goes to North Korea: the full story

eric schmdit north korea

Google executive Eric Schmidt and former Governor Bill Richardson have made a private trip to North Korea, urging humane treatment for an imprisoned US citizen and a more open society. US officials, meanwhile, have expressed concern, which the State Department says is poorly timed.

11 updates and 789 comments below.

Feb 22 12:00a

North Korea to switch on 3G internet access for foreigners within a week

A month after North Korea started allowing foreign tourists to use cellphones within its borders, the country has given the go-ahead to a move with far broader implications: for the first time, it will enable access to the internet via mobile data. The 3G network won't be available to ordinary North Korean citizens, but the AP reports carrier Koryolink informed foreign residents that the service will be offered no later than March 1st.

Following his recent visit to the country, Google...

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Jan 28 9:34p

Google publishing more detailed North Korea maps with crowdsourced data

North Korea has always been one of the few blind spots in Google Maps' efforts to detail the world, but the situation is set to get a little better. Google has announced that it will be leveraging input from users of its Map Maker software to publish more comprehensive maps of the secretive state. The update hasn't been pushed live yet, but a released image shows roads and other cartographical information added to the area around the capital of Pyongyang, which currently appears as a blank...

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Jan 21 1:28a

North Korea now letting tourists use cellphones for international calls

North Korea doesn't allow many visitors inside its secretive borders, and those that can enter have been made to hand over their cellphones — until now. A technician with Koryolink, the country's only 3G mobile carrier, told Xinhua that tourists are now able to make international calls with WCDMA phones if they buy a €50 ($67) SIM card and register their handset's IMEI number at North Korean customs. Additionally, the Associated Press reports that Koryolink is operating a rental booth at...

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Jan 20 4:46p

Eric Schmidt's daughter reports on creepy North Korea trip, says the country is like 'The Truman Show'

After returning from a private mission to North Korea, Eric Schmidt says he sternly warned North Korean officials that their country risks falling further behind economically without a connection to the global internet, but didn't elaborate much further on the trip. Schmidt's daughter Sophie was also with the delegation, and in a lengthy Google Sites post titled "It might not get weirder than this," she describes a trip full of "highly staged encounters, tightly-orchestrated viewings and what...

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Jan 13 7:34p

Eric Schmidt's trip helped 'make the case for the virtues of the internet' in North Korea

When Eric Schmidt announced his plans to go to North Korea, we were a little confused. Google's current chairman and former CEO is a fervent proponent of a free and open internet, while North Korea is famously one of the world's least-connected countries. After the trip's conclusion, The New Yorker's Evan Osnos sat down with John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University in South Korea and a member of Schmidt's delegation to North Korea, to talk about what Schmidt and his compatriots saw and...

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Jan 10 8:55a

Eric Schmidt says North Korea must allow internet access or 'remain behind'

Eric Schmidt has continued pushing for internet access in North Korea during his trip to the region, where many citizens are restricted to a tightly controlled domestic intranet service, Bloomberg reports. "As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world," Schmidt told reporters after visiting the North Korean capital. "The government has to do something — they have to make it possible for people to use the...

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Jan 09 10:15a

Eric Schmidt and Bill Richardson pushing for more cellphone and internet access in North Korea

Google's Eric Schmidt, former governor Bill Richardson, and the other members of a humanitarian trip to North Korea are pushing a message of online freedom, at least within the strict confines of the current regime. According to the Associated Press, Richardson says his group has given a message to "a variety of foreign policy officials, scientists," and government officials: "The citizens of the DPRK [North Korea] will be better off with more cellphones and an active internet." North Korea...

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Jan 08 1:46p

Eric Schmidt visits a college computer lab during his first day in North Korea

The Associated Press today released new photos and video of Google chairman Eric Schmidt's controversial trip to North Korea. Schmidt, who arrived in Pyongyang yesterday with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, spent his first day visiting a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University, where students were busily surfing the internet from HP desktops. North Korea has one of the most restrictive internet policies in the world, but librarians at the Pyongyang-based university say students...

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Jan 07 1:56p

Is Eric Schmidt in North Korea to negotiate a hostage release?

Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson arrived in North Korea today, as part of a private and controversial mission to the isolated country. The precise nature of the trip has thus far remained a mystery, but according to Reuters, the mission will include an attempt to negotiate for the release of an imprisoned American.

"We are going to ask about the American who's been detained," Richardson confirmed. "A humanitarian private visit." The American in...

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Jan 05 11:41p

Eric Schmidt's North Korea trip confirmed for next week

Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has confirmed that he will be traveling to North Korea with Google chairman Eric Schmidt next week. The trip is said to be a "humanitarian mission" and will also include Google Ideas director Jared Cohen and Richardson's advisor Dr. KA Namkung.

Reports of Schmidt's trip surfaced last week, and the US State Department expressed its concerns soon after, citing political sensitivities relating to North Korea's recent satellite launch. It's not clear...

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Jan 03 1:57p

US State Department doesn't want Eric Schmidt to visit North Korea right now

The US State Department today weighed in on Eric Schmidt's plans to visit North Korea, criticizing the Google chairman's decision to travel at such a politically sensitive time. "We don't think the timing of this is particularly helpful," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters, citing heightened tensions arising from North Korea's successful long-range rocket launch earlier this month.

Both Schmidt and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson are planning to visit the...

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Jan 02 2:35p

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt making private trip to North Korea

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is planning a visit to North Korea that could occur as early as this month, reports the Associated Press. Citing two sources familiar with the executive's itinerary, the AP reveals that Schmidt will be making the trip with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Exactly who the pair will be meeting with or what they hope to accomplish with the excursion remains unclear, however. North Korea notoriously enforces some of the harshest internet censorship policies...

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