According to the Associated Press, Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, will be visiting North Korea this month on a private and humanitarian mission led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Citing sources who asked not be named because the visit was kept private, AP reports that it is unlikely for Google to initiate a partnership with the country known to have the most restrictive Internet policies in the world. The country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has called for a modern-day “industrial revolution.”
During his New Year’s day speech, the leader announced that he is pushing science and technology as a path to economic development for the impoverished country, aiming for computers in every school and digitized machinery in every factory. As good as it sounds, giving its citizens free access to the Internet may be the last thing that Kim Jong Un will do. They may, however, use a local Intranet service or perhaps come up with a new monitored system to harness the untapped potentials of the Internet.
Victor Cha, an analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says that the most intriguing part of this trip is simply the idea of it. “Kim Jong Un clearly has a penchant for the modern accoutrements of life. If Google is the first small step in piercing the information bubble in Pyongyang, it could be a very interesting development,” Cha adds.