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North Korea using augmented reality in classrooms, pro-Pyongyang media says

North Korea using augmented reality in classrooms, pro-Pyongyang media says
North Korea appears to be taking steps to introduce technology for educational use after establishing a new ministry of information industry. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA-EFE

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- North Korea is employing virtual reality and augmented reality devices in elementary school classrooms, according to a pro-Pyongyang newspaper based in Japan.

Choson Sinbo reported Tuesday that Pyongyang 4th Elementary School, a "model institution," was introducing new communication technologies to enhance the educational environment.

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Digital chalkboards, computers and digital video cameras that connect to an Internet protocol network are also being used to teach children, the report said.

The newspaper said cards containing hidden animations are being used in North Korean classrooms.

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A card with an illustration of a snakehead fish, for example, becomes animated when a "teaching aid," likely a camera operating with special software, is pointed at the object. An animated sequence contained in the card then shows the snakehead fish eating prey, the report said.

Other cards that contain 3D dioramas show information about species like sharks. Augmented reality software turns a picture of a shark into an animation that depicts the animal's life cycle.

The teaching aid instructs North Korean children that sharks live in the ocean and not in rivers, and includes information about its relationship to the food chain, the Choson Sinbo said.

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Since the start of the pandemic, North Korean schools have been using videoconferencing software and other tools of the virtual classroom to carry out their educational mission, the report also said.

During the Fourth Plenum of the Seventh Party Central Committee meeting in 2019, leader Kim Jong Un ordered North Korea's institutions to use the latest technology, including artificial intelligence, for students.

Earlier this year, Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun mentioned for the first time a new ministry of information industry in an article about state plans to modernize the economy.

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Yonhap reported the ministry could be in charge overseeing development in the information technology sector, including Kim's policies relevant to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and artificial intelligence.

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