The virtual world is slowly expanding into the daily lives of South Korean schoolkids. Here is the first school in Chungcheongbuk-do Province to introduce what's called a "virtual reality sports center."
This place is designed to be a safe environment for students to learn sports without the constraints of time or space. It uses screens like this, and sensors that register the user's movements. In just this room, students can play a multitude of sports, like baseball and soccer, as well as learn games that supplement their school curriculum.
Over the last three years, the culture ministry has invested some 6 billion won, or around 5 million U.S. dollars to build an integrated sports platform for kids. A trial run of the VR sports center was carried out at 10 schools last year. After a positive response from students and parents, what initially targeted kids with little access to sports facilities, like those from lower-income families, or those with disabilities, is now being expanded to include all children.
"At first it felt foreign to me, but now I actually prefer this to playing sports outdoors because it's more convenient."
"If I play soccer outside I get a lot of sand in my eyes and it can get very hot, so I like this better."
Some 6 million dollars worth of investment was made this year alone to expand the facility to 178 schools nationwide.
"The VR sports facility allows students to break a sweat even when fine dust levels are high, like they are today. Kids can also learn about a range of subjects, so the content also gets updated accordingly."
A long list of VIPs were present at the opening ceremony including the Culture Minister, Do Jong-hwan. Specific outlines for expanding these centers across the nation are to be discussed starting in April.
Lee Jeong-yeon, Arirang News, Eumseong