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Google chief presses North Korea for better internet access

Google's Eric Schmidt traveled to North Korea and urged Kim Jong Un's government to embrace the web.

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Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt Oct. 29, 2012 in Paris. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson have urged North Korea to boost internet access, they announced today.

Schmidt and Richardson traveled to North Korea and said they warned officials that the country's poor economy would not improve until Dictator Kim Jong Un embraces internet. The isolated country has internet infrastructure, the Wall Street Journal reported, but few outside of government are allowed to use it. And even then, users' internet habits are heavily monitored. In fact, most North Koreans don't even own a computer, the New York Times reported

More from GlobalPost: Why is Google chief Eric Schmidt visiting North Korea?

“As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to effect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth, and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically,” Schmidt told reporters at a Beijing airport. “It’s time for them to start or they will remain behind.”

Schmidt’s four-day trip to Pyongyang, part of a mission lead by Richardson, drew strong criticism from the State Department, the Los Angeles Times reported. The department disapproved of meeting with a country that recently shot off a long-range missile

While North Korea officials appeared open to boost internet, Richardson said there was little progress in talks on military issues, the WSJ reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/130110/google-chief-press-north-korea-better-internet-access