Bill Richardson and Eric Schmidt’s trip to North Korea where they played willing propaganda tools for the Kim regime all ended up being for nothing since they couldn’t get the American hostage Kenneth Bae released:
North Korea is “sincerely” interested in improving ties with Washington and “encouraged” by South Korean president-elect Park Geun-hye’s offer of a summit, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said Thursday.
Richardson was speaking in Beijing after a visit to Pyongyang alongside Google chairman Eric Schmidt.
Park during her election campaign pledged take a more active approach to dialogue with North Korea than the Lee Myung-bak administration.
Richardson said “dialogue rather than conflict” is needed at this time of leadership changes in South Korea and Japan. He urged North Korea to halt its missile and nuclear programs when he met vice foreign minister Ri Yong-ho and other officials.
But the group failed to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen who has been detained in the North on spying charges. [Chosun Ilbo]
Since they couldn’t get Bae released now they have to come up with a storyline to show that they accomplished something with the trip, especially since they were criticized by the US government for going. So Richardson has decided to go back to the old playbook where you claim the North Koreans really mean it this time that they want to talk and make nice with everyone.
For Schmidt to provide cover for himself he is claiming that he advocated to the North Koreans that they need to allow their people to have more cell phones and open Internet usage. Like that is ever going to happen. I cannot imagine that someone as smart as Schmidt has such a superficial knowledge of North Korea that he doesn’t understand that allowing everyone to have open cell phone and Internet usage is unimaginable in North Korea due to the threat it would create towards the stability of the Kim regime.
This is what I think happened. I think Richardson was looking to make a headline by getting Bae released. Maybe he is looking to build his credentials for a cabinet position or some other political office? Anyway to travel to North Korea the Kim regime requested that Schmidt come along with Richardson likely because of the useful propaganda he provides in building Kim Jong-un’s creditability as tech genius. Schmidt goes along because he feels like he is doing something good to get Bae released. In the end they both end up getting used by the Kim regime, look like fools, and Bae is still sitting in prison.
Though I have been critical of this trip I do have to agree with One Free Korea’s assessment that was published in Reuters and the New York Times that overall Schmidt’s Google Earth program has done more to shine light on North Korea’s gulags than any other sector of the Internet has done. For this Schmidt should rightfully commended for.