North Korea may become hi-tech leader

Many people know that Kim Jong-il is fond of the Internet. Much is rumored about his interest in computer technologies. The North Korean leader said the rumors were true during last year’s visit to Russia. However, sceptics suggested at once that, probably, the leader is the only person in North Korea who knows about the Internet. What is more likely is that North Korea will become a leader in the sphere of computer technologies in the nearest future.

This week, an exhibition of North Korean software opened in a Beijing hotels. Associated Press informs that about 100 software products are presented at the exhibition, and the range is really very wide, from translator software to video games. Korean programmers demonstrated good knowledge of the Western software standards at the exhibition. It is said that the Korean software presented at the exhibition is designed to function under the world’s most popular operational systems, Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh. Official spokesmen say that North Korea is planning to achieve considerable success on the market of e-commerce, biotechnology, and machine intelligence software. Director of the North Korean Academy of Sciences Li Chen Jin says that the government provides large-scale funding to support science, thus making for a rapid upturn of the Korean IT-industry.

Some American and Asian companies already expressed their concern in cooperation with North Korean software programmers. However, trade with North Korea is banned in the USA; China is very likely to leave the USA behind in the sphere. It is to be added here as well that the number of users is rapidly increasing in China day after day. Experts forecast that China will be ahead of the USA with the number of Internet users by 2006. Therefore, plans of cooperation between Beijing and Pyongyang have a very promising future. Kim Jong-il visited China at least twice already to study the local reform experience, and last year he visited the Shanghai software developing laboratory.

This year, a North Korean pavilion was presented at Comdex, a Chinese exhibition. Unfortunately, Korean-developed software was not presented at the Chinese exhibition, only Websites developed by Korean designers.

Therefore, North Korea is not a backward country at all. The US Government has been saying for a long period already that North Korea is capable of producing nuclear weapons making and has rather great opportunities in the hi-tech industry. That is why information about highly qualified Korean specialists is not an exaggeration. It is more astonishing because North Korea is a closed country, and its specialists practically do not leave the country to travel abroad.

North Korea is very likely to become a center for the development of software and computer components in the nearest time. There are all the needed resources in the country: cheap labor and well-qualified specialists. It will be possible then for the leading hardware producers (especially for Chinese) to transfer part of their production operations to North Korea. To tell the truth, it will take a time for us to get accustomed to “Made in North Korea” mother boards.

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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