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(LEAD) Park visits virtual reality exhibition to promote VR technology as growth dynamo

All Headlines 16:41 October 07, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES photo; ADDS Park's remarks in paras 4-6)
By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Friday visited a virtual reality (VR) exhibition in Seoul to provide fresh momentum to her government's drive to nurture the promising technology sector as a new growth engine.

The exhibition, called Korea VR Festival, began its four-day run on Thursday. Nearly 80 companies, including those from the United States, Japan and China, have joined the event held at the Nuri Dream Square, a tech cluster in western Seoul.

Park met with the heads of the participating VR companies and highlighted the prospect of the VR sector creating new business opportunities and bringing about innovation in various realms, including education, medicine, defense and tourism.

"(The areas where VR can be applied) can be infinite," Park said at the exhibition.

"This will help create new jobs, which will contribute to our country's efforts to make a great economic leap," she added.

President Park Geun-hye (L) speaks during a meeting with the heads of some virtual reality (VR) tech firms at the Korea VR Festival held at the Nuri Dream Square, a tech cluster in western Seoul on Oct. 7, 2016. (Yonhap)

The chief executive also pledged to offer more "systematic" government support for VR-related companies, calling on them to push to develop the technology sector with the "pioneer spirit."

In August, South Korea designated the plan to foster the virtual reality sector as one of the nine "national strategic projects" that include those involving artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, biotechnology and light-weight materials.

To develop the VR sector, the Seoul government, in cooperation with the private sector, plans to invest some 400 billion won (US$359 million) over the next five years. The investment plan includes raising a VR fund worth 40 billion won and expanding tax deductions for research and development investments.

The world's VR hardware and software market is expected to rise to $2.2 billion this year with the figure projected to reach 80 billion in 2025, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said, citing data from the global investment giant Goldman Sachs.

President Park Geun-hye (R) engages in a virtual reality (VR) experience program at the Korea VR Festival held at the Nuri Dream Square, a tech cluster in western Seoul on Oct. 7, 2016. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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