Feeds

Google boss lands in North Korea for humanitarian mission

Mr. Schmidt (and team) goes to Pyongyang

High performance access to file storage

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has landed in North Korea for a private visit to the Hermit Kingdom, and he's bringing an interesting entourage.

Schmidt is joining a private humanitarian visit with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to discuss the future of Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who was arrested last month in the North Korean capital Pyongyang for "hostile acts."

"I know the State Department is a little nervous," Richardson told CBS News, "but we did postpone this trip already. Eric and I were going in December, and at the request of the State Department, we postponed it because of the South Korean presidential election. We're not representing the State Department, so they shouldn't be that nervous."

Schmidt is bringing along his daughter and Google Director of Ideas Jared Cohen, a former US State Department employee and Rhodes Scholar who's been collaborating with Schmidt on a study of the impact of internet connectivity on developing nations. Richardson is an old hand at dealing with the North Koreans, having made half a dozen trips out there, but Google's involvement is a new twist to the visit.

It comes after North Korean premier Kim Jong-un made surprise New Year's address in which he called for a new industrial revolution to move the country forward into the technological era. For a state that's barely in the 20th century in many respects, this is a tall order, but it seems that the world's youngest head of state is keen to modernize.

The North Koreans have engaged German industrial analysts and lawyers to develop a Vietnamese-style development model, where outside investment is allowed in certain specific areas. According to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the results of the consultation so far aren't good.

One economist's conclusion, that the Stalinist state has a "completely rotten manufacturing economy" with around 5 per cent of the productivity of its Southern counterpart, may help persuade Kim Jong-un of the need for change. Certainly based on the state's first computer game, it has a long, long way to go.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has criticized the trip as unhelpful, since tensions are high after the North Koreans sort-of successfully put a satellite into orbit last month. While the country did manage to get into orbit, the satellite is tumbling out of control – indicating that North Korean boffins haven't mastered the "what comes up must come down" principles of rocketry.

It's unlikely that Google's going to be getting any type of access to North Korea soon – only a few top families in the state have full access to the internet and the country is rated the worst in the world for online access. But Schmidt obviously feels it's worth the trip.

Mr Schmidt goes pleb class

Mr Schmidt goes pleb class

The journey there must have been something of a trial for him however, considering the usually palatial style of Google management's air travel. The company negotiated a special deal with NASA to park its corporate jets at Moffett Field, and the craft themselves have private bedrooms and restaurant-quality dining.

Schmidt and his entourage must have been missing those perks somewhat as they de-bussed at Pyongyang airport from a commercial Air China flight. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.