Google exec gets look at N. Koreans using Web
By Jean H. Lee ,APPYONGYANG -- Students at North Korea's premier university showed Google's executive chairman Tuesday how they look for information online: they Google it.
January 9, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
But surfing the Internet that way is the privilege of only a very few in North Korea, whose authoritarian government imposes strict limits on access to the World Wide Web.
Google's Eric Schmidt got a first look at North Korea's limited Internet usage when an American delegation he and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are leading visited a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang. Other members of the delegation on the unusual four-day trip include Schmidt's daughter, Sophie, and Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank.
Schmidt, who is the highest-profile U.S. business executive to visit North Korea since leader Kim Jong Un took power a year ago, has not spoken publicly about the reasons behind the journey to North Korea.
Richardson has called the trip a “private, humanitarian” mission by U.S. citizens and has sought to allay worries in Washington.
North Korea is holding a U.S. citizen accused by Pyongyang of committing “hostile” acts against the state, charges that could carry 10 years in a prison or longer. Richardson told The Associated Press he would speak to North Korean officials about Kenneth Bae's detention and seek to visit the American.
Schmidt and Cohen chatted with students working on HP desktop computers at an “e-library” at the university named after North Korea founder Kim Il Sung. One student showed Schmidt how he accesses reading materials from Cornell University online on a computer with a red tag denoting it as a gift from Kim Jong Il.
“He's actually going to a Cornell site,” Schmidt told Richardson after peering at the URL.
Cohen asked a student how he searches for information online. The student clicked on Google — “That's where I work!” Cohen said — and then asked to be able to type in his own search: “New York City.” Cohen clicked on a Wikipedia page for the city, pointing at a photo and telling the student, “That's where I live.”