North Korean officials had a crash course in capitalism including trips to Google and Qualcomm during a 16-day trip to the United States, a report said Monday. The officials and their American hosts tried to keep the trip low-profile and the US State Department declined comment on it.
But the paper said it obtained a copy of the itinerary, which showed visits to firms including Google, Home Depot, Qualcomm, Citigroup, Bloomberg News, Bloomingdale's department store and power plant operator Sempra Energy.
A group of 12 "mid-ranking" officials from North Korea secretly visited Google's Mountain View headquarters Friday morning. The 100 minute tour, which began around 10 a.m., was neither announced ahead of time nor open for media coverage.
After the meeting, the North Korean group attended a lunch seminar at Stanford University that also included other tech firms.
"It appears that U.S. officials may have arranged the visit to Google in order to show the North Koreans the level of U.S. technology and influence," according to an unnamed Foreign Ministry official quoted in The Chosunilbo. "Though it's unlikely that North Korea will open up to the outside world immediately, it could help shift the mindset of the regime over the long term."
The North Koreans also toured Universal Studios in Los Angeles.