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Kim Jong Un Visits China: Tries Virtual Reality

Kim Jong Un experiences new realities outside North Korea.

Overnight, North Korean and Chinese media confirmed a meeting took place between the countries’ leaders, Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping at the Chinese Beijing capital. The surprise two-day visit is the North Korean leader’s first known overseas trip since taking power.

While discussions around denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was top of mind leading into key summits with South Korea and the U.S. in the coming weeks, Kim Jong Un was also able to sneak away for some leisure time during his Beijing visit.

Tuesday’s visit included a stop to the Chinese Academy of Science, showcasing China’s scientific and technological achievements since Xi Jinping took power in 2011. And if any Chinese technological advancement would be on display that Kim Jong Un would be eager to experience for himself—that would be virtual reality.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, and his wife Ri Sol Ju, center right, visit Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing. (Korean Central News Agency)

A photo shared within an 8-page spread in North Korean ruling party’s newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, the country’s leader and his wife are seen touring the exhibition and trying on VR headsets.

While its not clear from the photo exactly what type of VR headset the couple is demoing, there are markers sitting on top that are being tracked by Vicon motion capture cameras mounted to the walls. Based on their arm position, Kim Jong Un and his wife are likely holding a tracked controller in their right hand as well.

Based on our translation of the sign behind Kim Jong Un, the couple is likely going on a submersible ride deep under the sea for a VR “expedition into a new millennium.”

No other details were shared about Kim Jong Un’s VR experience or whether this was his first time trying VR. But the North Korean leader did express his admiration for China’s accomplishments in a note. “Under the wise command of the Communist Party of China, we will achieve better scientific performance,” he wrote, according to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Aside from what the secretive Kim Jong Un actually thought about virtual reality, the real questions is if the North Korean leader will ever let his people experience a reality outside of the one they are already living in.

Back in 2016, we reported that North Korea potentially had a VR lab of their own. The propaganda image showed only a door with a sign that read, “Virtual Reality Science Lab.”

Image Credit: Korean Central News Agency

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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