Eric Schmidt’s trip to North Korea in order to spread the good word about open internet has been kind of strange from the start. Today, he posted on Google+ how he warned the country that it might be left behind. You know, internet. Politics. All that jazz. Schmidt’s daughter, who accompanied him on the “holiday” has now shared her — more candid — take too. And man, it seems like it was a weird trek.
Sophie recount of the adventure is a refreshingly straight forward one. As said on the site devoted to the story: “Straightforward trip report here: no discussion of meeting details or intentions — just some observations.” And allow me to cherry-pick a few of the good’uns.
- On the Kim Il Sung University e-Library: “No one was actually doing anything. A few scrolled or clicked, but the rest just stared. More disturbing: when our group walked in — a noisy bunch, with media in tow — not one of them looked up from their desks. Not a head turn, no eye contact, no reaction to stimuli. They might as well have been figurines.”
- “They made sure to show us the American-style fast food restaurant, though their timing appeared to be off: the place was shuttered when we arrived. Workers scrambled to put on aprons and turn on the lights.”
- “We were told well ahead of time to assume that everything was bugged: phones, cars, rooms, meetings, restaurants and who knows what else. I looked for cameras in the room but came up short. But then, why bother with cameras when you have minders? After a day in frigid Pyongyang, I was just thankful it was warm.”
You can read more of Sophie’s quite blunt, occasionally off-colour, and humorously pithy recount of the trip at the site devoted to it, which also includes pictures. All in all, it sounds like an “interesting” trip, but in the way that unnerving experiences can be “interesting” in that at least they’re not boring.
So if you’re planning to make the trip to North Korea — to talk about the internet or otherwise — consider this a good primer, and then consider changing your mind. [Sophie in North Korea via Hacker News]