The Associated Press today released new photos and video of Google chairman Eric Schmidt's controversial trip to North Korea. Schmidt, who arrived in Pyongyang yesterday with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, spent his first day visiting a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University, where students were busily surfing the internet from HP desktops. North Korea has one of the most restrictive internet policies in the world, but librarians at the Pyongyang-based university say students there have had access to the web ever since the lab opened in April 2010. Most students, however, are instructed to use the internet for educational purposes only, and the government continues to closely monitor online activity.
"A productive, but frank meeting."
Schmidt and Google executive Jared Cohen chatted with university students during their tour of the lab, with some demonstrating their ability to search and find information on Google, Wikipedia and university sites. Only a select few in North Korea have full access to the web, while the vast majority are restricted to a government-run intranet that filters out everything except for select news sites and curated content.
Richardson, meanwhile, spent part of his day meeting with officials from North Korea's Foreign Ministry. Upon arriving in Pyongyang Monday, the former governor announced plans to negotiate the release of a detained American citizen, describing the mission as a "private, humanitarian visit." In an interview with the Associated Press today, Richardson characterized his meeting as "a good, productive but frank meeting."
Schmidt, however, has remained largely quiet about his own motivation for visiting North Korea. A longtime advocate of internet freedom, the Google chairman would presumably have an interest in exploring one of the web's most formidable frontiers, though Richardson told reporters Monday that their excursion is definitely "not a Google trip."