In North Korea, fewer than a thousand people nationwide are believed to have web access. About a million people, or 1/24th of the country's population, have cell phones. But, according to one delegate who toured the country with Google's Eric Schmidt, the country's leaders seem like they're more open to getting the country online than ever before.
John Delury, a historian who teaches at Yonsei University, has been following economic developments in North Korea for years and said that he saw more cell phones in use than during his previous visits. He also said that Google's visit to North Korea was well-received and might indicate big changes to come.
"Kim Jong-un is putting a major stress on economic development and on building a 'knowledge-based economy,'" Delury told the New Yorker. "North Koreans I speak with understand the relationship between connectivity and growth."
Delury said that North Korea wants to get a "piece of the action" and the leaders are realizing that, to do this, you have to get online. "So they are now in a preliminary phase of experimenting with increased connectivity among their own people. Huge obstacles stand in the way." But, he added, "Google folks went there to make the case for the virtues of the Internet, and North Koreans listened. "
Kim Jong-Un sounds better than his father, that's for sure. But we're not going to hold our breath waiting for Internet to expand in the country; they've still got a long way to go.