Google boss Eric Schmidt visits Pyongyang university students during mystery North Korea trip

Billionaire businessman took a tour of Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung University during the trip

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The Independent Online

The executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, stopped to take photographs of archaic computers during a mystery visit to North Korea.

The billionaire businessman took a tour of Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung University during the trip, and spent time watching students browse the internet.

The reasons for Schmidt’s visit to the country remain a mystery, although it has been described as a ‘private humanitarian’ mission.

According to one member of the travelling party, however, Schmidt is 'interested in some of the economic issues there, the social media aspects'.

During the visit, students showed the group how they use computers; accessing reading materials from Cornell University and using Google to search for web pages.

Internet use in North Korea is heavily regulated and computers are a rarity.

The country provides an intranet system for home computers, while public computers only allow users to access state-run websites.

Schmidt’s trip comes at a difficult time in US-North Korean relations following Pyongyang’s launch of a long-range missile in December.

The country is also holding US citizen Kenneth Bae, who is accused of committing 'hostile' acts against the state and faces 10 years in prison.

The trip has therefore attracted criticism in the US, with former Republican presidential candidate John McCain reportedly calling the travelling party a bunch of “useful idiots”.

Schmidt has been joined in North Korea by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, his daughter Sophie and Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank.

Richardson says he plans to speak to officials about Bae’s detention and plans to visit the detainee during his stay.