Now S Korea Too Has Designs On Media Lab Asia

New Delhi: | Updated: Apr 25 2002, 05:30am hrs
In what might dilute the importance of India’s Media Lab Asia project, South Korea has also opened negotiations with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, to set up another Media Lab in Asia to take up high-end research in information and communication technologies.

Yang Seung-Taiks
The project in Korea will be known as Media Lab East and will need an investment of around $50 million for the first five years.

Talking to eFE, minister of information and communication of the Republic of Korea Yang Seung-Taiks said, “We are interested in taking up research in futuristic high technology areas. MIT has in principle agreed to set up a Media Lab East in Korea and negotiations are on about the modalities of the project.”

According to sources, the Korean government was one of the contenders for Media Lab Asia. Korea was closely associated with Media Lab Europe and wanted to replicate the project in the country, added the sources.

Industry experts feel that one more Media Lab in the Asian region might undermine the importance of India’s Media Lab Asia as the political and financial support from other countries and global corporations will be divided between the two projects.

The Korean minister, however, indicated that Media Lab East might not have any conflict with Media Lab Asia, which is aimed at resolving the digital divide in the region. “They should in fact compliment each other,” he said.

Reacting to a request made by information technology (IT) secretary RR Shah to participate in the funding of the Media Lab Asia project, Mr Seung-Taiks said that Korea would evaluate the Media Lab Asia project and accordingly decide about participating in the project. The minister, however, pointed out that Korea has already floated a Digital Divide Fund in which $1 million would be invested every year.

The minister said that the proposed joint venture fund of Korea and India will soon be started to help those Indian and Korean companies which are planning to set up operations in each other’s country. “The venture fund was supposed to be set up last year but there had been some misunderstanding that has been resolved now,” he said.

The Korean minister is currently in India and is accompanied by a government and business delegation to promote bilateral trade in information and communication industry. The delegation includes representation from Korean companies like Hyundai Syscomm, KM Tech, KT Corporation, LG CNS, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics.

A Korea-India IT Forum was also organised on Wednesday by National Association of Software and Services (Nasscom), International Co-operation Agency for Korea Mobile (ICA) and Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency (KIPA) to facilitate bilateral interaction between companies of both the countries.

Korea and India has also entered into two agreements. These include a memorandum of understanding for setting up a joint India-Korea e-governance task force. The MoU was signed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) of India and National Computerisation Agency (NCA) of Korea. The other MoU was signed between Electronics and Software Export Promotion Council of India and Korean Industry Promotion Agency (KIPA).