North Korean Officials Tour Google HQ

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."

During the 16-day trip, which was supposed to give the North Koreans a taste of capitalism in New York San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the group also visited Home Depot, Qualcomm, Citigroup, Bloomberg News, Bloomingdale's department store, Sempra Energy, Universal Studios, rice and mushroom farms in California, and food processing firm Clarmil Manufacturing.

Have to assume North Korea wasn't visiting to get any ideas for a new search engine, as the country is essentially cut off from the rest of the online world and most North Koreans can't get online.

About the author

Danny Goodwin formerly was Associate Editor of Search Engine Watch, where he also covered the latest search marketing and industry news. He joined Incisive Media in October 2007, in charge of copy editing columns that appeared on both Search Engine Watch and ClickZ. Prior to a life in the search industry, he worked in the journalism field, working in numerous newsroom positions, before later working as a freelance copy editor.