Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson are visiting North Korea, despite opposition to the trip from the U.S. State Department. The pair say they are on a private, humanitarian mission.
David Chance from Reuters reported, “Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt began a controversial private mission to North Korea on Monday that will include an effort to secure the release of an imprisoned American…. The delegation comprised Schmidt, his daughter, Richardson and Google executive Jared Cohen, according to South Korean news media and it arrived in Pyongyang on a flight from the Chinese capital, Beijing.”
CNET’s Jonathan Skillings noted, “The U.S. State Department last week expressed dismay at the prospect of the trip, with a spokesperson saying: ‘We don’t think the timing of this is particularly helpful’ given a recent, controversial missile launch. North Korea, controlled by dictator Kim Jong-un, is a pariah state with nuclear power ambitions.”
According to Choe Sang-Hun with The New York Times, “In a one-sentence dispatch, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency confirmed the American group’s arrival in Pyongyang, calling it ‘a Google delegation.'” Sang-Hun added, “Mr. Schmidt and Google have kept quiet about why Mr. Schmidt joined the trip, which the State Department called unhelpful. Mr. Richardson said Monday that Mr. Schmidt was ‘interested in some of the economic issues there, the social media aspect,’ but did not elaborate. Mr. Schmidt is a staunch proponent of Internet connectivity and openness.”
The Huffington Post’s Jean H. Lee added, “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,’ Richardson said without elaborating on what he meant by the ‘social media aspect.'”