North Korea’s interest in Fourth Industrial Revolution technology, particularly artificial intelligence, is on the rise. This was evident at a science and technology exhibition on Oct. 24, 2023, where college students were seen examining artificial intelligence robots. The country’s state media has introduced global trends of new technologies in order to expand their use in the agricultural and education fields, but there is also potential for military use.
The North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported on Dec. 24th that global competition for science and technology is intensifying. This includes efforts to apply AI to the education sector and the increased use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology. The Korean Central Broadcasting Station also noted last November that other countries are actively using AI to increase agricultural production.
Footage from Korean Central Television showed a new VR-based education program developed last year, allowing users to learn about North Korea’s history and culture from the third to fourth century B.C. It seems that North Korea’s state media is introducing global trends of new technologies in order to expand their use in various fields, but there is also potential for military applications.
Kim Hyuk, a research fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, reported that North Korean researchers have applied AI and its subfield machine learning (ML) for military applications. The wargaming environment conceived by North Korea might be actual conflicts at a tactical level involving artillery shells. Given the potential for transferring AI/ML technology via intangible means, it is important to monitor North Korea’s activities and implement measures to mitigate potential sanctions risks within the academic and private sectors.