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Schmidt, Daughter Talk About North Korea Trip 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-korea dept.
Eric Schmidt attracted headlines when he visited North Korea, but until now he has said little about the trip. Today he broke his silence with a Google+ post. He says in part: "As the world becomes increasingly connected, the North Korean decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world and their economic growth. It will make it harder for them to catch up economically. We made that alternative very, very clear. Once the internet starts in any country, citizens in that country can certainly build on top of it, but the government has to do one thing: open up the Internet first. They have to make it possible for people to use the Internet, which the government of North Korea has not yet done. It is their choice now, and in my view, it’s time for them to start, or they will remain behind." His daughter had some interesting things to say as well, "The best description we could come up with: it's like The Truman Show, at country scale."
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Schmidt, Daughter Talk About North Korea Trip

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  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:41PM (#42642711)
    Thank you so much for that terrible analogy.
  • Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mullen (14656) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:52PM (#42642775)

    Eric Schmidt from Google goes to North Korea and tells them the path to prosperity is open up to the Internet? Are you fucking serious? Uh, Eric, you know what you should have told them the path to prosperity was; the North Korean government should completely and radically change from a multi-generational dictatorship to a representative Democracy and Capitalistic System, with the intent of reunification with their southern brothers. Close the Concentration Camps (Yes, I said Concentration Camps), get rid of the failed centralized economy, stop starving your citizens and stop trying to cling to power and accept that the citizens of NK probably would be much better off without the current NK government. Opening up to the Internet is probably about 15th on the list of things they should do.

    Flying to NK and trying to convenience them to use Android Smart Phones or Google Applications for Dictatorships is pretty naive and well, fucking selfish. People are really starving and dying and giving them a couple of pointers on how to use the Internet is, well, dumb.

  • wtf? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:57PM (#42642797)

    Is Schmidt really so far out of touch with reality that he seriously thinks the rulers of the North Korean Orwellian police state give even the slightest shit that their pleebs don't have Internet access? Seriously?

  • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prehistoricman5 (1539099) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:04PM (#42642845)

    So what will happen if NK truly opens themselves up to the internet (not like China) and gives its citizens unfettered access?

    The illusion will be shattered for the citizens of NK, they will begin to demand more from their government and openess will come.

  • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:10PM (#42642861)

    No, it's not something they will listen to.

    North Korea is having an ongoing national psychotic episode. Not much anybody can do. That 'anybody' is mostly China BTW, but they let N. Korea continue for their own reasons.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:11PM (#42642871)

    Eric Schmidt visits a farm and tells the farmer than his cows would be far better off with internet access. The farmer looks at him like he is fucking stupid. Where is the benefit for him in doing that?

    You are so right on.

    Most people here have never been to Korea and can't really understand the dynamics of what is going on in both South and North Korea.

    There is very little chance that Eric Schmidt or any of his "people" saw anything that the North did not want them to see... Which is most of North Korea, which is in a state of extreme poverty on levels that most American, most Westerners simply can not understand.

    This was a PR trip for the North Koreans, a way to leverage media in the West to believe that things are not as bad in the North as they really are.

    As the US Government said, this was not a "useful" trip, it was a PR trip for the North Koreans, who continue to develop Nuclear Weapons at the cost of feeding their people.

  • Well I dunno (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:19PM (#42642913)

    They seem to go out of the way to try and impress foreigners with how awesome shit is, they just fail badly. I think it may be a case that they've been drinking their own kool aid for so long they forget the outside world doesn't buy the bullshit. They are used to their propaganda defining their reality, they don't have a good understanding of places where it doesn't.

  • by naroom (1560139) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:43PM (#42643039)
    Given how the whole Arab Spring [wikipedia.org] thing played out, I'm guessing the people in power in NK are not going to be inviting the Internet in any time soon.
  • by Kwyj1b0 (2757125) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:50PM (#42643067)

    I wonder who Eric Schmidt is preaching to here. Does he expect the people of North Korea to actually hear his words? (They won't). Are the government officials unaware of the impact of the internet? No. Are the people aware of what they are being denied? I don't think so.

    I remember when I was watching the 2010 FIFA world cup. During the NK national anthem, several of their players had tears in their eyes. They were proud to be representing their country. And these people are the relatively "better off" residents of NK. If they don't realize/care what a crazy country they represent, why should the majority of the population? I'm sure many people believe their government is a good entity. The ordinary citizens might have no idea that there is a better way to live. All their life, they have been listening to propaganda. And like most people in every other country, they believe the bullshit they are being fed.

    So when Schmidt says that NK should open up, does he really think anyone is going to change their behavior? He needs to show a different argument. Maybe start off by showing how technology can help the government. The only way you are going to make any inroads into NK (without actually using brute force) is via the government. Once people working there see the benefits of technology, it might spread to civilian life.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @09:21PM (#42643251)

    A navy that secures shipping routes for every trading nation on Earth vs nuclear weapons that do nothing except keep the Kim family in power. The more you "butwhataboutAmerica" posters bring up America, the more absurd you appear in the eyes of ordinary people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @09:55PM (#42643405)

    ...it's also like a combination of the Truman Show and They Live. One massive reality distortion bubble that nobody is aware of.
    And the whole discussion, just as the voting choices, always revolves around two options that are only differing in something entirely beside the point, giving the citizens choices for all aspects of their life, except those that aren't meaningless. Everything is condensed down from picking a fuzzy varying area in a multi-dimensional gradient space to a one-dimensional binary choice. With you being called at least "Hitler" for picking the "wrong" one. Let alone trying to think outside that box.
    It's ludicrous.

  • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @09:55PM (#42643407)

    They're aren't wrecking the planet with their industry.

    What industry?

    There aren't any fat N. Koreans below Kim Jong-un because being in the 1% means eating almost regularly. Fair and healthy at the same time.

    It's pretty easy to be skinny when there's so little food that families are often reduced to eating grass to stay alive, and have children dying of starvation a regular occurence.

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @10:11PM (#42643483) Homepage

    From the article: "Ordinary North Koreans [US Citizens?] live in a near-total information bubble, without any true frame of reference. I can't think of any reaction to that except absolute sympathy. My understanding is that North Koreans [US Americans?] are taught to believe they are lucky to be in North Korea [the USA?], so why would they ever want to leave? They're hostages in their own country, without any real consciousness of it. And the opacity of the country's inner workings--down to the basics of its economy--further serves to reinforce the state's control. The best description we could come up with: it's like The Truman Show, at country scale. "

    How true is that for the USA? I still hear people talking about how the USA has the best health care in the world, the healthiest population, the most upward mobility for its population, the best food supply, the highest level of democracy, the lowest taxes, the best education system, the most productive workers, and so on... And many US Americans still believe that creating artificial scarcity through copyrights, patents, and perpetual warfare is the path to abundance, and that draconian drug laws and draconian computer crime laws are the path to security... And many US Americans think there is little relation between what they eat and how they feel... Most US Americans have been taught to be afraid of sunlight when outdoor workers get less melanomas than indoor office workers... Many US Americans think we should reduce the US government debt when that is (unfortunatley) what creates the US money supply... Etc... Etc...

    Contrast with what John Taylor Gatto says about schooling:
    http://johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/16a.htm [johntaylorgatto.com]
    "As soon as you break free of the orbit of received wisdom you have little trouble figuring out why, in the nature of things, government schools and those private schools which imitate the government model have to make most children dumb, allowing only a few to escape the trap. The problem stems from the structure of our economy and social organization. When you start with such pyramid-shaped givens and then ask yourself what kind of schooling they would require to maintain themselves, any mystery dissipates -- these things are inhuman conspiracies all right, but not conspiracies of people against people, although circumstances make them appear so. School is a conflict pitting the needs of social machinery against the needs of the human spirit. It is a war of mechanism against flesh and blood, self-maintaining social mechanisms that only require human architects to get launched.
    I'll bring this down to earth. Try to see that an intricately subordinated industrial/commercial system has only limited use for hundreds of millions of self-reliant, resourceful readers and critical thinkers. In an egalitarian, entrepreneurially based economy of confederated families like the one the Amish have or the Mondragon folk in the Basque region of Spain, any number of self-reliant people can be accommodated usefully, but not in a concentrated command-type economy like our own. Where on earth would they fit? In a great fanfare of moral fervor some years back, the Ford Motor Company opened the world's most productive auto engine plant in Chihuahua, Mexico. It insisted on hiring employees with 50 percent more school training than the Mexican norm of six years, but as time passed Ford removed its requirements and began to hire school dropouts, training them quite well in four to twelve weeks. The hype that education is essential to robot-like work was quietly abandoned. Our economy has no adequate outlet of expression for its artists, dancers, poets, painters, farmers, filmmakers, wildcat business people, handcraft workers, whiskey makers, intellectuals, or a thousand other useful human enterprises -- no outlet except corporate work or fringe slots on the periphery of things. Unless you do "creative" work the company way, you run afoul of a host of laws and regulations put

  • by chilvence (1210312) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @11:31PM (#42643901)

    Actually, I don't think it had anything to do with that. I think it may possibly just be the fact that it is a very strong emotional thing to be charged with representing millions of your countrymen to the world; No matter what you may be thinking deep down about politics, your country is your country, end of. I think people read far too much into what is just one of the highly probable emotional responses when caught in the middle of such a moment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @12:17AM (#42644089)

    Your 10 aircraft carriers are not securing shipping routes, and the US doesn't have a shortage of nuclear weapons sitting around not securing shipping routes either.

    There is a huge difference between the US and North Korea. This isn't it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @12:19AM (#42644103)

    Your comment would make sense a year ago, but nowadays Google+ is where real content gets posted. Facebook is where you tell people what you had for lunch, and then only 2% of your friends ever see it because Zuck wants you to pay him so they do.

  • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday January 21, 2013 @05:34AM (#42645293) Homepage

    Come off it, North Korea and the USA are nothing alike. North Korea is 1984 writ large, it's as if they thought Orwell wrote a textbook instead of dystopian fiction. Even in its worst moments the US is light years from that.

    I think what you're trying to say is that there are some small seeds of resemblance in certain things, in particular the way Americans are taught from birth to believe the USA is the greatest country in the world, that other countries just aren't as good, that they're lucky to be born there, and so on, as opposed to being taught that the USA is merely a good country, much like many other countries except larger. And in that case yes, there is a slight similarity.

    But it's only very slight. For one, many Americans are not brought up this way. For another, any who are can easily learn about the outside world, including by visiting it. Obvious exceptions: Cuba, Iran, any other country the administration currently has a hate-on for. And that's bad, but it's a blacklist of destinations not a whitelist. Anyone there who wants to understand the truth of the world can.

    For all its faults, the US has a strong economy, lacks a cult of personality (you might say the same cultish mentality exists around the constitution though), and is just generally better than North Korea in every conceivable way. NK is useful because it shows what can exist at the bottom of the slippery slope towards totalitarianism. Lots of people understand that which is why they get up in arms every time there's some new violation of civil rights.

    By the way, I'm a Brit.

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Monday January 21, 2013 @09:32AM (#42646189) Homepage

    There is some truth to what you say, unquestionably. Still, what I am saying reflects actual US policy and the behavior of most US Americans, whatever adages remain around from older generations... Most people in the USA may have heard "you are what you eat", yet most people still eat a lot of empty calories from refined starches and sugars and cruelly-raised nutrient-poor meat. That disconnect seems symptomatic of a bubble to me. And it is reflected in US corporate-shaped policy:
    http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/11/the-subsidized-food-pyramid.html [seriouseats.com]
    "The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has posted an easy-to-understand visual on its site that shows which foods U.S. tax dollars go to support under the nation's farm bill. It's titled "Why Does a Salad Cost More Than a Big Mac?" and depicts two pyramidsâ"subsidized foods and the old recommended food pyramid. It's interesting to note that the two are almost inversely proportional to each other."

    There is a history there of decades of efforts by the meat and dairy industry to push the "four food groups" to the detriment of most US Americans, a legacy that still continues even with the USDA food pyramid and later efforts. Better pyramids:
    http://www.cellinteractive.com/ucla/center_overview/pyramid.html [cellinteractive.com]
    http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/foodpyramid.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
    http://www.honestfoodguide.org/ [honestfoodguide.org]

    Why doesn't every US American know about "the pleasure trap" as an aspect of "you are what you eat"?
    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/16a.htm [johntaylorgatto.com]

    If a lot of people in the country accept such behaviors (similar to accepting pictures of the "Great Leader" everywhere in North Korea and various paranoid and repressive NK policies), then what difference is there? No doubt a lot of North Koreans talk about how free and well-off they are... A lot of TFA is about how North Koreans probably don't know what is really going on... And those who do feel they have little power to act. How is that very different from, say, how people working at Walmart, the USA's biggest private employer, do not unionize because people there fear for their jobs if they do and have been taught that collective social action is bad etc. etc. (or at least not taught that it is good and had most independent initiative schooled out of them)?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Walmart#Labor_union_opposition [wikipedia.org]

    Working inside a corporation is how many adults in the US spend most of their waking hours.
    http://www.whywork.org/rethinking/whywork/abolition.html [whywork.org]
    "Work makes a mockery of freedom. The official line is that we all have rights and live in a democracy. Other unfortunates who aren't free like we are have to live in police states. These victims obey orders or else, no matter how arbitrary. The authorities keep them under regular surveillance. State bureaucrats control even the smaller details of everyday life. The officials who push them around are answerable only to higher-ups, public or private. Either way, dissent and disobedience are punished. Informers report regularly to the authorities. All this is supposed to be a very bad thing.
    And so it is, although it is nothing but a description of the modern workplace. The liberals and conservatives and Libertarians who lament totalitarianism are phonies and hypocrites. There is more freedom in any moderately de-Stalinized dictatorship than there is in the ordinary American workplace. You find the same sort of hierarchy and discipline in an office or factory as you do in a prison or a monastery. In fact, as F

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