ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS, YONHAP NEWS (South Korea)
PYONGYANG - Google Chairman Eric Schmidt became the highest profile American corporate executive ever to visit North Korea, arriving Monday on a mission led by former US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, the Associated Press reports.
Richardson, also a former governor of the state of New Mexico and frequent diplomatic "firefighter," has visited North Korea many times in the past; thus it is Schmidt's presence that is garnering much attention, though Google presented it as a “personal” visit, not directly linked to the Internet search giant. Still, there have thus far been no further details about why Schmidt has made the trip.
Richardson said in an interview on Friday that he had contacted the family of Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American tour guide detained in the country, and promised them he would discuss his situation with the North Korean authorities.
Bill Richardson interviewed on CNN From Youtube expand=1]
Washington was not pleased with the mission. Reuters quotes an anonymous official as saying the always tense relations between the two countries were worse than usual following North Korea's recent missile test: “We are in kind of a classical provocation period with North Korea. Usually their missile launches are followed by nuclear tests.”
Pyongyang's view on the standoff, as reported by the South Korean news agency Yonhap news, were summed up in a North Korean newspaper articles that stated: “Washington will use the invasion of North Korea as a springboard for its broader plan to conquer the world.”
Still, the same source noted that the North Korean Central News Agency overhauled its propaganda website in anticipation of Schmidt’s visit. Perhaps North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a geek at heart.