Google boss urges greater freedom on North Korea visit

9 January 2013

North Korean officials have been showing off their limited internet facilities to a group of prominent Americans that includes the head of Google.

The Executive Chairman of the internet giant, Eric Schmidt, is in Pyongyang along with the former governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson.

They stress that it is not an official visit, but Richardson said they are pressing for a US citizen in detention there to be treated fairly.

They also want the government to allow more mobile phones and an open internet in the reclusive country.

Kim Hueng-Kwan, a former North Korean computer engineer who defected to Seoul said: “North Korea only allows the leader’s family access to the internet in a limited way, or a special government department to maintain the regime. The north is running an intranet, which is a closed network, for its people to use.”

The country that blocked Google.com last year unveiled its own tablet computer running Google’s operating system.

The US criticised the trip as it comes so soon after North Korea’s widely condemned rocket test last month, seen in the west as a part of a missile programme.

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