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Google exec gets look at N. Koreans using Internet

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 8, 2013 at 7:04 a.m.

— Students at North Korea’s premier university showed Google’s executive chairman Tuesday how they look for information online: They Google it.

But surfing the Internet that way is the privilege of only a very few in North Korea, whose authoritarian government imposes strict limits on access to the World Wide Web.

Google’s Eric Schmidt got a first look at North Korea’s limited Internet usage when an American delegation he and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are leading visited a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang.

Other members of the delegation on the unusual four-day trip include Schmidt’s daughter, Sophie, and Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank.

Schmidt, who is the highest-profile U.S. business executive to visit North Korea since leader Kim Jong Un took power a year ago, has not spoken publicly about the reasons behind the journey to North Korea.

Richardson has called the trip a “private, humanitarian” mission by U.S. citizens and has sought to allay worries in Washington.

North Korea is holding a U.S. citizen accused by Pyongyang of committing “hostile” acts against the state, charges that could carry 10 years in a prison or longer. Richardson said he would speak to North Korean officials about Kenneth Bae’s detention and seek to visit the American.

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