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Enchanted with games, Jeong Yu-jin, 16, has been teaching himself programming since he was a child and is now developing a game that warns of the consequences of global warming as a player clears stages filled with challenges like angry polar bears and crumbling glaciers.

“Technology is a way for me to turn my imagination into a reality,” said the student at Korea Digital Media High School, one of many technology-oriented schools that have proliferated as electronics giants like Samsung have thrived.

Kim, the South Korean official leading the tablet PC project, said the country envisions a digital scholastic network for students to go beyond digital textbooks and national boundaries.

“In the future, all our students will be connected to a single computer network that allows them to also learn from teachers in other countries,” Kim said.

Loaded with video, animation, photos, voices, songs and Web documents created by experts and by teachers and students, digital textbooks allow students to enjoy a custom-made learning experience, Kim said. Kids who fall behind in a regular curriculum can start from levels they feel comfortable with.

Young North Korean defectors struggling to adapt to South Korea could also benefit from having tablet PCs. More than 21,000 North Koreans, including children, have come to South Korea since the two countries’ 1950-53 war. Many choose to study in special schools to catch up before they attend regular ones.

Those who study digital technology and education have been generally positive about introducing digital textbooks, but there have also been warnings that Internet addiction may deepen among South Korea’s teenagers.

The number of students addicted to the Internet amounted to 782,000, or 12 percent of the total student population, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security said last year. The government, worried by the problem, plans to increase the number of counselors dealing with Internet addiction to 5,500 next year.

“What is essential in digital learning is to promote as much interaction between teachers and students as possible, rather than just leaving the students to themselves,” said Kwon Jung-eun, a senior researcher at the state-run National Information Society Agency.