Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why Google's Chairman Eric Schmidt is going to visit North Korea

The mainstream press is full of speculation about why Google's Eric Schmidt plans to visit North Korea, along with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, especially now that the U.S. State Department has publicly suggested that the visit is not a good idea at this time.  Instead of speculating about why Schmidt is planning to visit North Korea now, the press should be asking why he has waited so long to visit.   The possible reasons for his visit abound.
Google, as its beautiful globe visualization (see the prior post in this blog) shows, is well aware that Korea is divided and North Korea isolated, a situation that is at odds with its corporate mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
Google also has active, ongoing interests in development and international issues such as illicit networks and fragile states.
Perhaps one of the most interesting possibilities being discussed as the reason for Schmidt's visit is the one noted in The Chosun Ilbo.   The paper reported that the South Korean government believes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un invited Schmidt in order to change the image of his country and to persuade the U.S. to start dialogue. A government official here said, "By inviting the chairman of Google, which is the world's most open and innovative company, Kim probably wants to emphasize that his country isn't isolated and express his hope to engage in dialogue with the U.S."

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