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Science ministry to set up Korean version of US DARPA

Science and ICT Minister Lim Hye-sook speaks in a press sit-down at the Sejong Finance Center on Thursday. (The Ministry of Science and ICT)
Science and ICT Minister Lim Hye-sook speaks in a press sit-down at the Sejong Finance Center on Thursday. (The Ministry of Science and ICT)
The government will introduce the Korean version of the US‘ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency this year to accelerate future-oriented research on innovative technology, Science and ICT Minister Lim Hye-sook said Thursday.

Adapting the US DARPA model -- creator of the computer mouse, drones, the Internet predecessor Arpanet, GPS, and voice recognition -- the Korean agency will have its own independent rights in operation and budget to lead challenging research and development of next-level technology. Its official launch is scheduled for the second half of this year, according to the ministry.

The minister also laid out four major focuses for this year: Fostering “essential strategic technology,” innovating future technology, becoming a digital-leading country and fostering youth talent.

“The Ministry of Science and ICT will secure technological sovereignty by gathering R&D capabilities in essential technology fields that will determine the nation’s survival. We will find the answer to become a leading country of the post-COVID-19 era in technological innovation,” Lim said in a press conference held at the Sejong Finance Center.

“Based on the national essential strategic technology growth strategy announced at the end of last year, we will strengthen our competitiveness by designating pan-ministerial strategic technologies such as AI, semiconductors, battery, hydrogen, quantum and space.”

The minister said it is difficult to tell when the second launch of the country’s homegrown Nuri rocket will take place due to technical adjustments and the simulation process.

Last month, the government concluded that the loosening of a fixture holding a helium tank of the Nuri rocket was the reason for the incomplete launch. The launch is scheduled for May at the moment, but officials said it is likely that the second trial will be delayed.

To help the Korean ICT industry take a lead in the metaverse market, the ministry will focus on nurturing hyper-connected businesses of artificial intelligence, 6G and blockchain, the minister said. Meanwhile, she also stressed the government’s role in minimizing the digital divide.

“In times like this, the digital divide leads to a gap in social and economic status. We will enact the digital inclusion act so that all people can benefit from digitalization without any gaps and expand the operation of digital classrooms,” she said.

“We will support youth so that they can take on challenges and grow from them based on digitalization. We will provide resources such as data vouchers and government research centers’ infrastructure, which can create synergy in helping the youth grow.”

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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