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President Peres in S. Korea, Meets Robot in Science Park

President Shimon Peres, in South Korea to boost economic ties, also did his part for aliyah, encouraging a robot to get "upgraded" in Israel.
By Malkah Fleisher
First Publish: 6/9/2010, 10:11 PM / Last Update: 6/10/2010, 7:41 AM

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President Shimon Peres, in South Korea to boost economic ties on Tuesday, also did his part for Israel's aliyah (immigration of Jews to Israel) effort, encouraging a special robot to get "upgraded" in Israel.

President Peres' visit aims to boost economic ties between Seoul and Jerusalem and will address the issue of sanctions against Iran.

President Peres' arrival was marked by a traditional military ceremony.  The President's entourage was greeted by dozens of flag-waving Koreans who welcomed the President at the airport and along the road and with much media interest.

During a visit to KAIST Science Park, which boasts 7000 Ph.D. level scientists and 8000 engineers, President Peres greeted with a bouquet of flowers and a handshake by a robot called HUBO.  After exchanging salutations, President Peres encouraged the robot to make aliyah to Israel, and promised the robot it would receive an upgrade.

More seriously, Peres' suggestion of a virtual research institute for Israel and South Korea, was welcomed by his hosts. The virtual institute would share knowledge about outer space, biotechnology, brain study, alternative sources of energy and more.

Whle North Korea has no relations with Israel and does not allow Israeli tourists, Israel has full diplomatic relations with South Korea and strong ties with the country, whose Jewish population is mainly in the capital city, Seoul. It exists from the time when Jewish soldiers in the United States Army came there during the Korean War,(1950-53) fought to prevent communist controlled North Korea from taking over the entire peninsula after it invaded the south.

The largely transient Jewish community is comprised mostly of U.S. military personnel and their families, business people, English-language journalists and teachers, and tourists.  A Chabad Rabbi arrived in 2008 and established the first Chabad house, which includes a synagogue. Before that, Jews wishing to pray had to go to the U.S. Army base which has a chaplain and services.

South Korea has a sizeable Christian population which is friendly to Israel.