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DPRK adopts advanced scientific tech to train future teachers

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, September 10th, 2018


VR teaching | REUTERS

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has adopted advanced scientific technologies across the country to train its future teachers, answering the call of accelerating building a powerful nation of science and technology with talents proposed at the Third Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in April.

The Pyongyang Teacher Training College, covering more than 24,000 square meters, is a college that trains primary school and kindergarten teachers. After reconstruction in November 2017, the college has become a model college featuring science and technology, informationization and modernization.

The college has developed dozens of new-type education technologies including children intelligence development technology and education evaluation technology, and introduced virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies and equipment to become the base of teachers training in DPRK.

In the VR classroom, students can learn astronomy and geography knowledge and observe things they can not do with naked eyes. In the VR teaching system, they can experience in advance the problems they may encounter in future teaching.

Besides Korean, the VR teaching system also uses foreign languages, especially Chinese and English which are taking an increasing proportion in DPRK’s education.

Making teaching tools in creative ways is also an important training of the students as not every one of them can go to teaching with adequate facilities available after graduation. — Reuters

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Japanese man ‘marries’ virtual reality character

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Wedding ceremony of Akihiko Kondo and virtual character Hatsune Miku | REUTERS

With nearly 40 wedding guests looking on and filming the special moment, Akihiko Kondo lifted up the veil on his bride and kissed her. The only catch? Kondo’s bride is Hatsune Miku, a virtual reality star developed by a Japanese music technology firm.

Together, Kondo, 35, and Hatsune Miku, represented by a stuffed doll, declared they were ‘married’ in the $18,000 ceremony in Tokyo.

A week after the ‘marriage’, Kondo came home from work at a middle school in the suburbs and was greeted by the holographic projection of the love of his life who literally lights up and welcomes him home.

The hologram of Hatsune Miku recognizes Kondo’s face and voice with her embedded camera and microphone and can respond with simple phrases and songs.

The fact that she is not a physical person has not stopped Kondo from finding happiness in this arrangement.

“I believe the concept of happiness and love is different for each person. I believe there is something like a template for happiness — where a real man and woman gets married and have a child together, but I do not think such a template can be applied to everyone to make them happy,” Kondo, told Reuters as he fiddled with silver marriage rings worn by him and a stuffed doll of Hatsune Miku.

Hatsune Miku’s general appearance is that of a 16-year old anime pop star with two large pigtails in blue. She was designed as a computer-generated singing software, based on a voice-synthesizing program developed by Crypton Future Media.

From a young age, Kondo was convinced he would never marry and would stay single all his life. Ten years ago, he said an episode of workplace bullying by a female superior sealed his fate and convinced him to remain a singleton.

Since deciding Hatsune Miku was ‘the one’, he said he has remained faithful and devoted his life to the virtual pop star, who has thousands of fans domestically and internationally.

But his wedding ceremony on November 4 was not universally understood, he said.

His parents, who allowed him to go ahead with the ceremony, did not attend and although Kondo received encouragements and support from many friends and other fans of Hatsune Miku through Twitter, not everyone sent him congratulatory messages.

Kondo said some accused him of being a creepy ‘otaku’, which loosely refers to ‘geeks who live an anti-social life’. Others accused him of contributing to the decline in Japan’s population, while some even accused him of stealing their pop star.

But Kondo is not discouraged. He said his wedding ceremony will serve to encourage other people to have the courage to pursue their happiness even if only available in the virtual world.

“I think it was nice to have this wedding ceremony in terms of encouraging such people (who are pursuing diverse types of marriage),” Kondo said.

In 2017, Japanese tech developer Gatebox, which developed the holographic devices, began issuing ‘marriage registration forms’ for users of their favorite virtual characters. Gatebox said in a press release on their website that over 3,700 of these unofficial ‘marriage certificates’ had been issued.

Both Gatebox and Crypton Future Media declined to be interviewed by Reuters on the subject of Kondo’s wedding. — Reuters

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Diokno: Suspension of 2nd tranche of fuel excise tax may affect gov’t fuel subsidies

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2018


Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno

The government assured that it will continue its program that offers assistance to jeepney drivers who are bearing the brunt of surging oil prices.

According to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, the Pantawid Pasada Program, which seeks to provide a fuel voucher worth P5,000 for each jeepney driver, has been allocated with P977 million in the 2018 national budget.

In 2019, they proposed around P3.2 billion appropriation for the program in hopes of hiking the fuel subsidy to P20,000 for each driver.

But following the announcement on the early suspension of the second tranche of fuel excise taxes next year, Diokno warned that the projected budget may be slashed.

“As I’ve said, the Pantawid Pasada for next year is premised on the two-peso adjustment. Now, if the two-peso adjustment is suspended then the Pantawid Pasada benefits will be based on 2018 but that will continue,” said Diokno.

Diokno has earlier assured that the government’s assistance to poor Filipinos, such as conditional and unconditional cash transfer in 2019, will not be affected if the suspension of the fuel excise tax will push through.

With this assurance, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is confident that the budget for the free tertiary education policy next year will be protected.

“We will be in close coordination with DOF (Department of Finance) so that provision for education will somehow not be affected by any deduction,” said CHED Executive Director Atty. Cinderella Filipina Jarp. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue

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South Korean families heading north to reunite with long-lost relatives

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, August 20th, 2018

A man selected as a participant for a reunion shows pictures of his deceased mother and little brothers living in North Korea, at a hotel used as a waiting place in Sokcho, South Korea, August 19, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A group of South Koreans gathered in the northeast coastal city of Sokcho Sunday before heading to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for a reunion with their war-separated families.

The family reunion, which is held during the celebration of the National Liberation Day of Korea, was announced in the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace after leaders from the two sides met in April.

Before meeting their family members on the other side, the South Koreans registered for the reunions at a hotel in Sokcho, got their health checked and were briefed on the procedures and protocols for the event.

The two sides will hold two rounds of reunion meetings. The South Koreans will leave for the venue Monday morning to stay there for three days.

The second round of reunion, involving 83 DPRK families who applied for gatherings with SouthKorean relatives, will be held from Friday to Sunday at the same venue, according to SouthKorean media.

Many separated families have not heard of their missing relatives in nearly 70 years since the Korean War was halted by armistice in 1953. Some waited a lifetime for news of their family which never came. For those who are still alive, everyone has a story of bitterness hanging on to their missing loved ones for decades.

Seventy-seven-year-old Kim Hyeja was finally about to meet her brother after 73 years. Kim’s mother took her two-year-old brother out one day in 1945 and she has not heard from them since.

Kim said she wanted to learn how her mother lived through years of separation with family until her death when she meets her brother.

“I think about my mother all these years, about how sad she’d be, thinking about her daughter. I’m very heart-broken every time this comes to mind,” said Kim.

Ninety-one-year-old Lee Geumsum will meet her son, who got separated from her in 1950.

“I’m sure I won’t recognize him. He was three, but now he’s 71. And he won’t recognize me either. I want to ask him how he lived through all these years, whether he was raised by a new mother, or did his father raise him on his own,” said Lee.

Still those who are about to reunite with their family members are the lucky few, as the vast majority of separated relatives are still waiting to see their loved ones in their lifetime.

“As for those separated families who have not get the chance to reunite, I hope their problem will get solved. Whether it’s the leadership in the north, or in the south, both sides should work towards letting these separated families to reunite at any time with great foresight, to fulfill the wishes of these seniors over 90 years old,” said Lee Youngbu, a senior South Korean heading north to meet his relatives. — Reuters

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