Google chairman's daughter sheds light on North Korea

Featured - January 22nd, 2013

The daughter of Google top executive Eric Schmidt has shed some light on North Korea in a first hand account of her father’s controversial visit to the reclusive state.

Sophie Schmidt, 19, who accompanied her father and the American delegation to North Korea earlier this month described the “very, very strange” country in a blog posting over the weekend, entitled “It might not get weirder than this”, reports AFP.

“Our trip was a mixture of highly-stage encounters, tightly-orchestrated viewings and what seemed like genuine human moments,” she wrote, adding that they barely interacted with North Korean citizens unless approved by the state and were always accompanied by two North Korean escorts.

The highlight of the post was when she described the delegation’s photographed visit to a computer laboratory at the Kim Il-Sung University where Mr. Schmidt and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson watched North Korean students using the Internet.

“One problem: No one was actually doing anything,” she said. “A few scrolled or clicked, but the rest just stared. More disturbing: when our group walked in… not one of them looked up from their desks. Not a head turn, no eye contact, no reaction to stimuli”.

Still, she said she hadn’t seen all of North Korea. “It’s impossible to know how much we can extrapolate from what we saw in Pyongyang to what the DPRK is really like”.

Mr. Schmidt and Richardson answered a few questions about the nature of the visit but claimed they urged North Korea to allow access to a more open Internet in a country where information is tightly controlled.

Meanwhile, North Korean late leader Kim Jong-il’s body was put on display at Pyongyang’s Kumsusan Memorial Palace a few floors below the first leader Kim Il-sung.