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back to article Eric Schmidt's Norks outing poorly timed, tuts US govt

The timing of Google chairman Eric Schmidt's planned visit to North Korea has been slammed by the US government. The search supremo is due to head out to the super-secretive internet-unfriendly nation soon after the launch of a long-range rocket by the Kim Jong-un-led country. "Frankly, we don't think the timing of this is …

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Mushroom

Poor timing?

is there ever a *good* time to go to North Korea?

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Re: Poor timing?

I went in April and that was a great time to go. August/September is good as well, as the mass games are on then (weather is a bit hotter, but to see them that's when you have to go).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Poor timing?

Pumping hard currency into the most repressive regime on the planet, good for you.

I hope you can sleep well at night while knowing full well that the money you paid to Koryo (or whatever they're calling themselves now) is being put to great use building new and improved gulags to imprison those who merely wish to leave (as well as three generations of their family) with no possibility of parole, setting up new infrastructure to stop any attempts at the free flow of information, attacking and killing South Korean civilians as well as military targets for no real reason other than to attempt to provoke a War, kidnappings of Japanese Civilians to attempt to extort their families as well as their Government, and most importantly making sure that the current Suryeong and his "Anti-Japanese Revolutionary" dinosaurs in the KWP and upper echelons of the KPA get to have their Cognac, Lobster, and Cigarettes while the ordinary North Korean people that you will never see, much less speak to (because they don't live in fucking Pyongyang or Kaesong!* and you're not going to a place like North Hamgyong, ever. Unless you wind up in a Kwan-li-so or the regime collapses), are facing chronic food insecurity because of their Government's arrogance, denial, and belligerance toward their own countrymen in the South, the rest of the World's International institutions and NGOs which have tried to help them, their paranoia about American, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian intentions, as well as their steadfast refusal to modernize in any way shape or form unless it directly benefits the Kim family itsself.

Things have changed under Kim Jong-un, yes. They've largely gotten worse, except for the starvation numbers which are in the hundreds to thousands as opposed to millions or at least hundreds of thousands. The only upside is that the police and jackbooted security thugs aren't attacking the informal markets anymore, for now anyway.

*-Your Songbun status has to be extremely high to even apply to live in Pyongyang or Kaesong, you'd better not be physically disabled in any way, three generations of your background had better be squeaky clean as far as the MSS is concerned as if it isnt, you may wind up in a Kwa-hwa-so "revolutionizing zone" or at the least having your Songbun dropped as far as they can drop it, and thereby getting your workplace reassigned to something very unpleasant. You'd also better be able to afford the chain of bribery to process your application. If you come up short, you might just wind up in prison for that too, or they might just kill you. The regime doesnt care about their trusted rank and file any more than the masses, so they have to make "arrangements" to feed themselves. I strongly doubt Koryo told you any of this during your guided tour, did they?

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Meh

Say it as it is..

He's a DIC* HEAD

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Trollface

Re: Poor timing?

Yes yes North Korea is hell on earth that the only thing funny about them was done by Team America. Let me let you in a hint. a developed nation is simply one whose culture is not completely self destructive in the short term unlike at least %80 of the people in the world. Most of the world is a craphole by choice (leadership, culture, religion, tribes, etc) and North Korea is the ultimate example.

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Coat

Re: Poor timing?

> Pumping hard currency into the most repressive regime on the planet, good for you.

I thought they had just been slammed for *not* paying taxes!

Oh wait, I see...

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Facepalm

Re: Poor timing?

Looking forward, is there ever a *good* time for Eric Schmidt to return ? Surely it must be possible to land a plane under a rock.

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There's only ONE reason Herr Schmidt is going to NK : he thinks he can make a buck there. And if he an do that, he's not to bothered about other things. He won't even have to explain privacy infringement there. Easy peasy !

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There's no money there. Even the North Korean government struggles for cash. Schmidt is already a billionaire isn't he? So I very much doubt he's in it for the money. At least not directly. He may be in it for the prestige, which might lead to money later, but that's a different matter.

I'm sure he has his reasons. Possibly nefarious, possibly humanitarian, who knows? He's close to the Obama government, so if he isn't doing some back-channel communications for them, then he's being rather embarrassing.

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Meh

@I ain't Spartacus

There's a lot of money in the Kim Jong bank account though.

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Mushroom

Re: @I ain't Spartacus

LarsG,

Have they got as much cashola as Schmidt? I read somewhere a while back that North Korea were so desperate for hard currency that they were using their pharmaceutical factories to knock out fake Viagra to sell to the West. Apparently that's where a lot of the spam email offerings were getting their little blue pills. I'm sure that keeps you in cigars and lobster, but is it enough to buy the loyalty of billionaires?

Or is Schmidt going there for the ultimate billionaires plaything? Google are going to go nuclear!

In news today Bing! went mysteriously offline. In weather news, a small mushroom shaped cloud has been spotted over Redmond. Our weather station there is currently malfunctioning, so we're unable to enlighten you as to current conditions.

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Anonymous Coward

More like he's setting up some sort of tax haven there so he can avoid even more taxation.

His money might help finish the Hotel of Doom.

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Big Brother

Is there ever a *poor* timing?

Pretty rich that the US g'mnt speaks of "poor timing". WHO is using Nork's periodic antics for aggressive "need to do something" soundbites whenever it throws a tantrum? Presidents, senators and State Department doofuses are indulging a collective of infighting communist kleptocrats craving for attention. Good job.

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Black Helicopters

Embargo?

Why is Schmidt even going there? As a US company aren't they forced to abide by the embargo the US Government has on North Korea as an "Axis of Evil" state?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Embargo?

Who says they are exporting something that is embargoed? And (almost) bans on travel to Cuba by US citizens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba) seems to have been conveniently ignored provided one travelled via Canada or Mid/Souther America. As far as I understand travel bans are not on.

Bow whether this is anything more than an ego trip is another matter.......

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Mushroom

"Poorly timed"

Was this the date the USAF were planning to roll the bombers in....? Bad PR accidently dropping a Mk 82 on Mr Schmidt's entourage....

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Holmes

Re: "Poorly timed"

I would think the PRC might mean to get in a word sideways about a preemptive attack on one of its client states....

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Trollface

Re: "Poorly timed"

Lol Bombers. Sure you meant to say Tomahawk cruise missile (ie the main reason our navy exists is as a mobile launch platform).

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Trollface

Re: "Poorly timed"

The PRC honestly you can tell are tired of the Norks and the constant flow of economic refugees into their country (lol how poor do you have to be to risk life and limb to immigrate to China). Their actions are largely guided by what will prevent the flow of even more people. Having a rogue nation satellite is very superpowerish. Look at the US and Israel (even though the US is the bottom bitch in that relationship).

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""Frankly, we don't think the timing of this is particularly helpful," state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told Reuters."

I suppose we are meant to chuckle at use of the word "frankly" followed by a lack of frankness. Maybe we are supposed to marvel at their Wit. "Unhelpful!" What a slur! Well done, how cunning. That put him in his place!

Do they have script writers to write these high-brow intellectual snobby remarks?

"We can't call him a dick for some reason, so why don't we just say his visit is 'Not Particularly Helpful', with a wry smile?". "Oh well done johnathon! that's a wonderful idea, we'll use that, the wit will make us look like grown-ups doing grown-up international politics.

The US and NK squabbling like kids but using big words and phrases they've seen in movies to pretend it's some kind of important intellectual argument.

Do they do it to make themselves look important? or to impress others? or because they feel they have to? are they trying to get into some famous quote book with a witty remark? tossers.

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Have you never heard of diplomacy? It's the skill of saying (sometimes unpleasant) things to other governments, without starting a war. Ask a diplomat for a quote, they'll speak like a diplomat. It's their job. They're very useful to have around the place. If you ask nicely, they'll translate for you.

Was it Talleyrand who said that diplomacy was the art of saying 'nice doggy' while you fetch a rock?

As an example of why diplomatic language being opaque is important, see this Telegraph piece by Charles Crawford (ex ambassador and sometimes interesting commentator on stuff). Ignore the fact that it's about Assange, and concentrate on how the FCO mis-stepped, and ended up in hot water.

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It's time

New leader. There's a chance he can still be approached. Leave it another year or two and probably not.

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Re: It's time

In fact I'm guessing the visit is referred to as not "particularly helpful" because they beat the government to it before it had time to come up with some convoluted way to use the situation for its own nefarious, but otherwise ineffective purposes.

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They are traveling in an unofficial capacity ...

which might be better as the official US policy is completely ineffective.

I liked swing buildings with only one side painted - the side which could be observed from the road, Jerking the government 'minders' can make for humourous moments as they are always fewer in number than 'international guests'. They can't really yell at you but they do run around a lot.

There are only one cylinder vehicles in the country, and humans often are used as substitutes for beasts of burden. There are an awful lot of people walking around, minimal transportation.

I think with Richardson returning, and Schmidt joining him can only be for the good.

One thing for sure, no cells work there - unless you are connected to government.

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Re: They are traveling in an unofficial capacity ...

Robert Heinlein visited the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and wrote a piece about it. He came up with the game of trying not to see the stadium. In every town you go to, the guides want to show you the local sports stadium, because it's non-controversial, and usually empty. So their are no embarrassing questions to avoid answering, and no even more embarrassing meetings with people. Even better, it wastes lots of time, in which they don't have to run interference on you.

He said that he only managed to avoid seeing the stadium in one city he went to. So that's a clear win to Intourist...

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Re: They are traveling in an unofficial capacity ...

Well considering Heinlein's right wing hoorah USA personality its not like the minders were in anything but a no win situation lol. Still good author once you get past the militaristic pro government ala Tom Clancy tinge to his stories.

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Well, according to an article on the Beeb today

The Norks are more open than ever:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20773542

So it looks like things are changing. However, I doubt the place will be open enough for Google to make a buck any time soon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well, according to an article on the Beeb today

Good article... sounds like progress!

Who knows, maybe the new leader will bring North Korea out of the darkness and into the light, literally..

If there are so many blackouts, maybe their nuclear program IS just for power...

I know that is what I would be doing if I was the leader,

My thoughts would be ignore the west we need power more than their approval...

Same with the satellite launch, we need communications more than western approval.

Lets hope his visit is all about helping NK get into the internet age better, maybe their offering to launch satellites for Google?

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The enemy of my enemy is my friend

North Korea are not Microsoft fan's either.

They have the superior 'Red Star OS' for a start.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Star_OS

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Re: The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Has more to do with the fact that Linux is owned by all of humanity instead of a billionaire sweaty fat pig CEO. Microsoft is just another corporate "person my friend" money whore like all the rest so I doubt the Norks would specifically call them out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The enemy of my enemy is my friend

At least you know where you stand with Microsoft. You know you'll have to buy Windows, you know you won't get the source.

With Google it's open source that isn't open until it is abandonware. It is source you only get by being members of a special club of OEMs. Then there's the things people actually want to use on the damn OS like software, which you can't install from Google's app store unless the OEM licences all the apps. I don't call that "open", it is lame beyond belief.

I'd sooner pay some money for software than have everything free but have all of my app and web usage analysed.

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Joke

Well!

Without defending the North Korean regime seems they haven't invaded another country for well over half a century, that's a lot longer than certain other countries!

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Happy

Re: Well!

Well... Apart from the regular invasions of South Korea that is.

It's a rare year when they don't drop a few commandos off from a submarine, shell a town across the border, send a raid over the DMZ or torpedo the odd warship.

You used the joke alert, so I won't mention the repression, mass starvation and gulags.

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Joke

Re: Well!

...But enough about the U.S...

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Re: Well!

>seems they haven't invaded another country

Might have to do with the fact that all their neighbors could roll them without really trying.

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Re: Well!

Hang on!

I added a list starting

Hungary 1956

Czechoslovakia 1968

Uganda 1978

Iran 1980

Afghanistan 1979

Cambodia 1978

India/Pakistan (various)

..

It wasn't aimed against the USA just it's not uncommon.

Seems my post got rather truncated!

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Anonymous Coward

Anything goes...

...when there is money to be made. Hell companies routinely illegally sell technology to North Korean, Iran and any other country willing to pay for it. Schmidt is just in the game for the money so he could care less about the U.S. unless it means more money in his bank account.

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Coat

Just wondering

How come Ballmer isn't going too? That would make it even more fun, but perhaps he had to work that day.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just wondering

Ballmer works? I thought he was a propaganda mount-piece.

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I love the media.

"We don't think this is very helpful."

SLAM!!!! KABOOOM!!!!

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"To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."

Winston Churchill

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Mushroom

Poor timing for Eric to go

But no one has said that its poor timing for New Mexico governor Bill Richardson to go.

Dual standards at work or something more sinister?

:)

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Zap

Google had a terrible time in China and eventually had to pull out, perhaps they are just trying to learn from previous mistakes, Since when does a democratic government have a right to dictate the movement or business interests of its citizens?

Oh yes Cuba, well that worked didn't it!!

Actually it empowered Castro because he was able to blame the embargo for his own inept management of his country, a deliberate strategy on his part.

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