North Korea seeks to boost education with toy-like robots


SEOUL, November 3 (Reuters) – A toy-like robot with scowling blue eyes and a North Korean flag on its chest walks through a classroom at a university in Pyongyang during a recent tools demonstration aimed at helping children learn basic math, music and English.

The images, broadcast by North Korean state television KRT, also showed two other larger plastic robots, each with a vaguely humanoid appearance.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pushed for educational reform in recent years by spurring technological and scientific innovation.

“I help teach educational technology that improves children’s intelligence,” the 80-centimeter (31.5-inch) tall robot said in a female voice, waving its arms.

A second robot featured a smiley face on a screen embedded in a white round head, while another wore a blue plastic suit and white-rimmed glasses, KRT footage showed.

Park Kum Hee, a professor at a university in Pyongyang, told KRT that developing educational robots had its challenges initially, with robots often shaking their heads when asked questions in Korean and foreign languages.

“Upgrading the intelligence of this robot has been difficult for me as a person specializing in psychology,” Park said.

“It is the words of our respected Comrade Secretary General (Kim Jong Un) on the adoption of artificial intelligence technology in education that have always guided me on the right path.”

KRT footage showed elementary school students wearing masks rehearsing after the robot in music, math and English lessons.

” Hello ? Delighted to meet you. Nice to meet you too. What is your name ? Said two children in English in front of the class.

North Korea reopened schools in June last year, but made it compulsory for children to wear masks in classrooms and wash stations have been set up.

The recluse country has officially reported no cases of the coronavirus, but it has imposed strict anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel restrictions, and experts have said an outbreak cannot be ruled out. Read more

Report by Sangmi Cha; Additional reports from Yeni Seo; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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