Eric Schmidt's daughter blogs about North Korea
Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, third from left, and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, top right, watch as a North Korean student surfs the Internet at a computer lab during a tour of Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, Jan. 8, 2013. / AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
In a recent blog post, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt's daughter Sophie recounts a recent trip to North Korea, giving a rare glimpse inside the communist nation.
Schmidt writes that she was invited to join her father on the highly-publicized trip and emphasizes that her accounts are informal observations from "a North Korean amateur" who is only describing what it's like to be part of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's delegation.
The Google executive and his daughter spent four days in North Korea with Richardson, on what the former Governor called a private, humanitarian mission.
On her blog, Schmidt described the visit as a "mixture of highly staged encounters, tightly-orchestrated viewings and what seemed like genuine human moments."
Here are some of Schmidt's highlights:
- The delegation of nine people was accompanied by two men from the Foreign Ministry at all times.
- On customs declaration forms, visitors are asked to leave "killing device" and "publishings of all kinds" at home.
- The group was told ahead of time to assume that everything was bugged, including cars, rooms, meetings and restaurants, among other things.
- Eric Schmidt responded to the news of staying in a bugged guesthouse was to "simply leave his door open."
- Schmidt noted there were three channels on the TVs: CNN International, dubbed-over USSR-era films, and the DPRK channel.
- The delegation was allowed to visit the Palace of the Sun, where Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il's embalmed bodies are kept, but could not bring in items like coats, gloves, cameras or hats.
- A visit to Kim Il Sung University e-Library is described as bizarre because Schmidt described it as people just sitting and staring at about 90 computers.
- According to Schmidt, North Korea's mobile network, Koryolink, has between 1-2 million subscribers, with no data service. However, international calls were possible on their rented phones.
- Schmidt describes North Korea's national Internet as a "walled garden of scrubbed content taken from the real Internet."
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