Korea should lead in tech revolution, president believes

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Korea should lead in tech revolution, president believes

President Moon Jae-in said Korea should lead rather than follow in the development of future technologies.

“The fourth industrial revolution era is a new challenge for us,” the president said, “and the innovation of science technology is the starting point.”

President Moon was in Daejeon Thursday visiting the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. While there, he emphasized the importance of scientific research.

The president’s Daejeon visit was his second tour of a major city outside of greater Seoul this year. The first tour was a week ago to Ulsan, the heartland of Korean manufacturing, including auto making and shipbuilding.

It was his fifth visit to regional areas since his first trip, to Gunsan, North Jeolla, the site GM Korea’s now shuttered plant.

President Moon has been taking regional tours to encourage local economies as he has been championing balanced growth. Korea’s economy has historically been concentrated in the greater Seoul area.

During his opening remarks, President Moon stressed Korea’s achievements throughout the decades.

“When U.S. President John F. Kennedy stood before the U.S. Congress and announced that the United States should go to the moon - and announced the dreams of the United states and the hopes of humanity - the only technology we had of our own was radio technology,” Moon said. “We weren’t even on the starting line of competition in science technology and were busy chasing after the world.”

“Now, 60 years later, we are the first to commence 5G services - in March - and have become a leading country in the digital age,” he noted.

He thanked researchers in Korea, including those at the 45 institutions in Daedeok, Daejeon and at the seven research centers at universities, including the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Kaist) and Chungnam National University. With them burning the midnight oil, Korea has finally caught up and now ranks seventh among the OECD member countries when it comes to science and technology, Moon noted.

“Now we are equal at the starting line,” said. “And the fourth industrial revolution era is waiting.”

“D.N.A. are the foundation of the fourth industrial revolution,” President Moon said, referring to the acronym for data, network, and artificial intelligence (AI).

According to President Moon, the government is offering support in the pursuit of fourth industrial revolution technologies.

“Starting this year, the government will be investing in strategic innovative industries,” he said.

He said the government will expand the local data market and supporting the training of 10,000 data and AI specialists by creating an “AI convergence cluster” and increasing the number of AI colleges from three this year to six by 2022.

“This year we will be committing 3.6 trillion won ($3.19 billion) of the budget to eight leading industries - hyper-connected intelligence, smart plants, smart cities, smart farms, fintech, new energy industry, drones and future automobiles,” the president said.

President Moon said the government will restructure R&D so researchers will be at the center of leading technology development.

He said this year the government will invest 1.7 trillion won into basic and foundational research, and will increase that commitment to 2.5 trillion won by 2022.

President Moon said administrative employees at R&D centers will be separated from the researchers so researchers can focus more on their work and not be hassled by paperwork.

“Daedeok is the leading city of the fourth industrial revolution,” Moon said, adding that the government will give full support so the special R&D development zone in Daedeok will be the center of innovative growth that will not only help create start-ups, but will also create jobs.

Later in the day, President Moon met with 40 businessmen and visited the traditional market to promote the revitalization of the local economy.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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