Earlier today, Google’s Eric Schmidt and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson landed in North Korea on their unrelated-to-Google, definitely-not-state-sponsored trip. We’ve heard reports that Schmidt took the trip to the notoriously reclusive country on interest in economics, or maybe social media. In reality, nobody is 100% certain why Schmidt and Richardson are in North Korea.
According to their report, Richardson and Schmidt will be reaching out to North Korean officials concerning a captured American citizen who has been detained for over a month.
“We are going to ask about the American who’s been detained. A humanitarian private visit.” Richardson said.
The detainee in question is Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American tour guide and frequent North Korean traveller. He was detained a couple of months ago after entering the country with five other tourist, after North Korean officials claimed that one of the tourist possessed a hard drive with “sensitive information.”
The trip has been the subject of some controversy, as the White House has been vocal in its complaints. Mainly, the recent North Korean missile launch compounded an already-tense relationship between the U.S. and North Korea, and the State Department made it know that they though the timing was a little less-than-helpful.
“As you know, they are private citizens. They are traveling in an unofficial capacity. They are not going to be accompanied by any U.S. officials. They are not carrying any messages from us. Frankly, we don’t think the timing of this is particularly helpful, but they are private citizens and they are making their own decisions,” said State Department rep Victoria Nuland before Schmidt and Richardson made the trip.