News / Asia

North Korea Gives US Delegation Rare Look at Internet Use

Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt (C) and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson (2nd R) watch as a North Korean student surfs the Internet at a computer lab during a tour of Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, January 8, 2013.
Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt (C) and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson (2nd R) watch as a North Korean student surfs the Internet at a computer lab during a tour of Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, January 8, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
North Korea has provided a small group of Americans with a rare look at the few people who can access the Internet in the tightly-controlled and impoverished state.

The private delegation of Google executives and former New Mexico state governor Bill Richardson were given a tour of an Internet lab Tuesday at Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung University. They spoke with several students, who could be seen using Google to look for information online.

North Korea's authoritarian government bars the vast majority of citizens from accessing the Internet to shield them from foreign influences. But in recent years, it has permitted some students of elite universities to search the Web under strict conditions and monitoring.  

  • Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt and former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson look through an information technology text book at the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 9, 2013.
  • North Koreans work at computer terminals inside the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 9, 2013.
  • Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt and former governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson look at soldiers working on computers at the Grand Peoples Study House, Pyongyang, North Korea, January 9, 2013.
  • Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson tries on 3-D glasses as he looks at North Korean-developed computer technology with Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 9, 2013.
  • Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt stands on a balcony at the Grand Peoples Study House overlooking Juche Tower in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 9, 2013.
  • Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, takes photographs as he tours a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 8, 2013.
  • Students work at terminals inside a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 8, 2013.
  • Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt arrives at Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea on January 7, 2013.
  • Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is interviewed by journalists after arriving at Pyongyang International Airport, North Korea, January 7, 2013.

The American delegation arrived Monday in Pyongyang on a four-day visit that Richardson described as "humanitarian." The U.S. State Department has criticized the trip, calling its timing "unhelpful."  

The visit follows North Korea's test-launch of a long-range rocket last month - a move denounced by Washington as a threat to regional security and a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Pyongyang said the test is part of a peaceful program to send a satellite into space. But Washington sees it as a bid to develop long-range missiles capable of striking the United States.

Richardson met with North Korean foreign ministry officials and described the talks as "good, productive, but frank." He did not elaborate.

In an article published Tuesday in the New York Daily News, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Richardson and the Google executives have "joined a long list of Americans and others used by [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's] family dictatorship for political advantage."

Bolton said a better humanitarian approach to North Korea would be to "undercut and end" that dictatorship, rather than provide assistance that "perpetuates" it.

South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said Seoul hopes the Americans' visit will promote "peace and stability" on the Korean peninsula.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid