North Korea follows one man on Twitter... and he's Jimmy Dushku from Austin, Texas

 

As Google boss Eric Schmidt urges North Korea to enter a new age of digital freedom, details have emerged of the few friends the "hermit kingdom" already embraces on Twitter.

They are: communist Vietnam, a Pyongyang propaganda site, and a 25-year-old Texan who plays golf with Dennis Quaid and is obsessed with Coldplay.

Jimmy Dushku, an investor from Austin who also loves Jammie Dodger biscuits, has revealed he received death threats after fellow Twitter users discovered his unlikely link to the dictatorship. Some have accused him of sympathising with Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, or even of being a spy.

Mr Dushku has more than 2,000 followers on the social network. For reasons no one has established, they include @uriminzok ("our nation"), North Korea's official government account.

"I was initially surprised, but I always try to make friends with people from all different locations and backgrounds," Mr Dushku told the Mother Jones website. He said he followed their account in return "out of courtesy", later sending it a public message saying "have a nice day, my friend" in Korean.

Mr Dushku has received a trickle of abuse and occasional death threats since the friendship started, but his link to the totalitarian state has only come to broader light with Mr Schmidt's controversial visit to Pyongyang.

The Google chief executive told a press briefing in Beijing after his return that he had urged officials to create a free and open internet in North Korea, where online access is currently heavily restricted.

"Their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth, and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically," he said on Wednesday.

Mr Dushku's Twitter profile describes him as "just a young guy trying to make the world a better place :)". His personal website was unavailable beyond its front page today, where three photos include one of the boyish entrepreneur on a private jet.

A former teenage web developer, Mr Dushku has since built up an investment portfolio that includes property and construction in Texas as well as Peru and Brazil. He is best known online for his love of Coldplay, which he defends as often as his relationship with North Korea. The investor has also posted a photograph of himself playing golf with the actor Dennis Quaid.

Death threats appear not to concern Mr Dushku. He claims to have been invited to the country and said he wants to go there to see the Arirang Festival, an annual celebration of synchronised pomp that honours the state's military.

"I have been very interested in the country, from a historical point of view, for many years now," he told Mother Jones. "Behind all of the headlines you see on the news, there are people who live there."

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