Google's Eric Schmidt to North Korea: Use the Internet, or Else

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At the tail end of a relatively fruitless four-day "humanitarian" mission to North Korea, Google chief Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson sent what they consider a strong message ... by stating the obvious — and, in Schmidt's case, in the form of an empty threat. "As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically," Schmidt told reporters straight off the plane from North Korea, reports The New York Times's Andrew Jacobs. "We made that alternative very, very clear." That doesn't sound like much of an ultimatum, really: Join the 21st century, or else? Niether Schmidt nor Richardson have much leverage in actually pushing sanctions, and North Korea hasn't budged much on its restrictions — even if students there did try to prove to the Google exec that they know how to Google.

Despite what appears like a pretty meaningless jaunt that rose eyebrows at the State Department and didn't seem to achieve its main goal — there was no official progress on the release of detained American citizen Kenneth Bae — Richardson described the interactions as "very positive." The two also urged North Korea to "temper its nuclear-development efforts," according to The Wall Street Journal's Brian Spegele and Carlos Tejada, and to stop testing ballistic missiles. "We need dialogue on the peninsula, not confrontation," said Richardson.

The one success out of the trip, however, is that we saw the birth of a new meme — Eric Schmidt looking at things in North Korea:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.