For the last several years, I have been going to Korea once a year. Over the last year or two the changes have been amazing. It is said that the Korean economy received a great blow after coming under the management system of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1997. However, as far as appearances on the streets, the traces of a depression have completely disappeared. The streets are rapidly changing. The original beginning of these changes was at the time of the 1988 Seoul Olympics. I wonder if they are the same as the big changes that also took place in Tokyo after the Tokyo Olympics.
On this trip, to commemorate the establishment of the Korea TRON Association, we held the first large-scale symposium about the TRON Project in Korea at the international convention center--Convention and Exhibition (COEX). If we broadly divide Seoul, there is the old town north of the Han River and the newly developed zone to the south. COEX is in the southern zone. It is a new city center with a large-scale shopping mall, a hotel, office buildings, and a convention center, which are built facing an avenue called Teheran Avenue where rising IT businesses are gathering. Inside there is a large aquarium, cinema complex, and a department store. In Japanese terms, it corresponds to the Tokyo waterfront sub city center at Aqua City Odaiba, but it's completely new, and looking at the design, one can't tell whether it's Seoul or Tokyo. Leaving aside whether it's good or bad, the Seoul-likeness of about 10 years ago is no longer there. Looking at it on the surface, it has become something along the lines of an advanced city common throughout the world. As for the appearance of the streets, I've decided to touch on that little by little in the special feature, but the so-called features peculiar to Korea have slipped away. When it comes to customers gathering, compared to the shopping mall at Aqua City Odaiba, the difference is overwhelming. At Aqua City Odaiba, there are also times when it is inactive; but at COEX, wherever one goes there are people and there is liveliness. In contrast to Aqua City Odaiba, which is too expansive and has ended up being developed with a focus on each facility, COEX has succeeded nicely in the development of surface area through a combination of the horizontal unfolding of an underground mall that makes one feel like walking from one end to the other and the vertical expansion of facilities.
We held the large-scale symposium on the TRON Project at the COEX Inter-continental Hotel inside the COEX complex. It was very well attended to the extent that standees appeared among an audience of 350, and we were also able to conduct an exhibition together with the symposium thanks to related companies. Interest in TRON was really great, and it was reported in many newspapers and on television news. And then, there was a bonus in that my book Tsuukai! konpyuuta-gaku [Exciting! computer science] (Korean title: 21 Segi k'eomp'yut'eo-hak [21st century computer science]) has been completely translated and published in Korean. Anyway, they were very enthusiastic. Today, in Korea there is great interest in IT-related things, the technologies, companies--anything. In keeping with the spread of the Internet, interest is moving to the question of what is an easy-to-use machine for ordinary people, and it is probably natural that there's also gathering interest in TRON, which is a project that is representative of the non-PC approach. It was sufficient to recognize anew that the TRON Project is a project in Asia. Korea is absolutely ablaze now. That the symposium in this blazing Korea ended in a great success was, we could say, a great result for an event closing out the last of the 20th century as the project is to greet in the 21st century.
The above opinion piece by TRON Project Leader Ken Sakamura appeared on page 1 of Vol. 65 of TRONWARE. It was translated and loaded onto this page with the permission of Personal Media Corporation.
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Copyright © 2000 Sakamura Laboratory, University Museum, University of Tokyo