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Two Americans Start Controversial North Korea Visit

The trip has created controversy because of the country’s recent missile test and its treatment of the Internet

The trip has created controversy because of the country’s recent missile test and its treatment of the Internet

January 07, 2013 – New Mexico’s former governor Bill Richardson led a delegation of private citizens that included the executive chairman of Google Eric Schmidt on Monday to North Korea. The trip has created controversy because of the country’s recent missile test and its treatment of the Internet.

Richardson has on several occasions visited North Koreas and called his trip of four days a humanitarian mission, during which he plans to attempt to visit Kenneth Bae an American citizen born in South Korea who was detained and then arrested in November on charges of committing hostile acts against the government after he entered the country.

Richardson said he had heard from the son of Bae, who is living in Washington State. The son asked Richardson to bring his father back, but Richardson said he doubted that could be done on just this trip. The arrival of Richardson’s delegation was confirmed in Pyongyang by local members of the Associated Press.

The delegation was planning to meet with leaders of North Koreas in the government, military and economy as well as visit different universities. Google and Schmidt have not said why he was on the trip, which was deemed “unhelpful” by the U.S. State Department.

On Monday, Richardson said Schmidt had been interested in some economic issues in North Korea and social media but would not give any further details. Schmidt staunchly supports Internet openness and connectivity. Except for a minuscule portion of the elite in North Korea, the general population is blocked from using Internet.   Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s new leader is running the country trying to emphasize technology and science vowed he would intensify its ongoing war of stopping the filtering of outside information into the isolated country, which leaders fear would help to undermine its ruthless totalitarian grip on the country.

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