Why Is Eric Schmidt Going to North Korea?

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Don't call him an ambassador, and don't count on Google North Korea just yet, but Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt is going on a North Korean vacation with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, reports the Associated Press. Google's place in Kim Jong-un's alleged "industrial revolution" remains very much unclear, but Schmidt and Richardson look like they'll try and meet with North Korean officials about Kenneth Bae, an American currently being detained in the country.

Why does Richardson need the first Google executive to travel to NoKo for that? Well, there is this one guess about the business implications of the trip: 

Schmidt probably wants to bring some level of Google service to North Korea. The company has conquered the big surrounding countries, including Russia and the super restrictive China, but Google isn't in North Korea yet. The AP's Jean H. Lee describes it as "one of the last frontiers of cyberspace."

North Korea is an open market, so to speak, with a leader more receptive to technology than ever before. As Hee points out, Kim Jong-Un called for a "revolution" in science and tech during a New Year's Day speech. The last time we checked Google is a tech company, and the search engine's presence would, in some capacity, probably be considered "revolutionary" for North Koreans. Then again, so are a lot of things over there.

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