Richardson holds briefing on North Korea trip, didn't meet imprisoned tourist

Earlier this evening, we reported on some information that had surfaced regarding Bill Richardson and Eric Schmidt's trip to North Korea, where it was rumored they would seek the release of imprisoned American tourist Kenneth Bae. Richardson held a conference at the Beijing airport upon their exit from the country, which has just taken place. In the conference, Richardson said they were not allowed to see Bae.

North Korea was unwilling to release Bae, who was arrested last year on unspecified charges. Likewise, the delegation was not allowed to see him, but was instead promised that he is healthy. Richardson had been quoted by Reuters as saying, "We are going to ask about the American who's been detained. A humanitarian private visit."

For his part, Google's Eric Schmidt says that he encouraged North Korea to embrace the Internet or risk suffering in many ways. According to the Washington Post, Schmidt said during the press conference: "As the world is becoming increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth. It will make it hard for them to catch up economically. We made that alternative very, very clear."

During the trip, the nine-person delegation was given a tour of various technology-related facilities, as well as with students and government officials. Most people in North Korea do not have access to the Internet. In the midst of all this has been criticism from the U.S. Department of State, which said the trip's timing is less than ideal due to recent tension with the nation.

[via Reuters]