Google chairman Eric Schmidt has posted his
impressions from his recent visit to North Korea, saying that the
country will remain economically backward until it allows free public
access to the internet.
Schmidt posted his comments at his blog early Sunday about 10 days after concluding a controversial private trip to the isolated communist country.
Schmidt wrote that the trip was "to talk about the free and open Internet." He said the North Koreans showed up, listened and asked a lot of questions.
"Overall, the technology in North Korea is very limited right now," he wrote, describing a 3G network that is a joint venture with an Egyptian company called Orascom.
Schmidt described it as only a limited mobile phone network that does not allow users to have a data connection and use smart phones, adding that "it would be very easy for them to turn the Internet on for this 3G network."
He said that while the government, military and universities in the communist country enjoy access to the internet, the general public does not.
"As the world becomes increasingly connected, the North Korean decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world and their economic growth. It will make it harder for them to catch up economically," he wrote in a blog posting. "We made that alternative very, very clear. It is their choice now, and in my view, it's time for them to start, or they will remain behind."
The Google chief visited North Korea with Bill Richardson, the former US ambassador to the United Nations. Prior to their departure the US State Department said the trip was not "particularly helpful" in furthering US diplomatic relations with North Korea.
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