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Rain, missiles and high def TVs

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SEK2006 The opening of the 20th SEK conference in Seoul, South Korea, was slightly upstaged by the early arrival of the monsoon season - well, that and the imminent missile tests in North Korea. But at least the rain should keep the rocket on its launch pad.

Damp delegates gathered for the opening ceremony of Korea's flagship technology conference attended by a bevvy of government ministers and a rather wall-eyed female robot.

The four day conference is promoted by the Korean government and attended by 390 companies. Journalists were told how important IT is here - it represents 15 per cent of GDP but 30 per cent of exports. It is seen as a key part of government plans to drive per capita income to $30,000 a year - it is currently at $16,500.

Equipment on display at the actual exhibition ranges from a selection of mobile phones with varied screens, enormous high definition TVs, laptops, to the miniature motors used to power robots - apparently a Korean obsession.

Journalists were treated to a presentation from Samsung on mobile TV which predicted an increase in demand from 5.8m handsets in 2006 to 185m by 2010. Woo Sun Park, vice president of GSM product planning at Samsung said TV was becoming a commodity item for mobile phones in Korea.

He said the most popular use for mobile TV was during commuting, with average use about an hour a day.

We also heard about WiBro, the Korean brand name for mobile WiMax, which gets its commercial launch in two weeks, but we'll get a sneak preview aboard the WiBro bus tomorrow. The only worry in this traffic-rich country is whether the bus can get up to the 100kph required to showcase truly mobile broadband internet access. ®

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