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Sunday, September 25, 2022

iPhone’s Siri seems to be stuck in the colonial era

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A screencapture shows Siri states that Korea is Joseon Peninsula ruled by imperial Japan. [VANK]
A screencapture shows Siri states that Korea is Joseon Peninsula ruled by imperial Japan. [VANK]

Apple came under fire after Siri, it’s AI personal assistant, put its foot in its digital mouth by describing modern Korea as a land ruled by Japan.  

The Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), a civic group that promotes Korean culture, raised the issue on Tuesday and asked the Cupertino, California-based tech company to brush up on Siri’s history lessons.  

VANK said that when asked, “Tell me about Korea,” Siri responds, “Korea is a region in East Asia or a sovereign nation. In modern history, it refers to the Korean Peninsula or Joseon Peninsula ruled by imperial Japan.”   

The organization said Siri credited Wikipedia as its source, but neither the Korean nor the English Wikipedia entry for Korea says the Joseon Peninsula is ruled by imperial Japan.  

Wikipedia defines Korea as a peninsular region in East Asia consisting of South Korea and North Korea.

Given that Japan’s colonial rule ended in 1945, the information is obviously wrong, VANK said.  

“It is a big problem that Apple, a company that operates globally, spreads false information about Korea through Siri,” the organization said in a statement.  

“If an answer that could be given to billions of iPhone and iPad users around the world is left unchanged, it will deliver a wrong image about Korea,” it said.  

Apple was embroiled in a similar dispute last month when VANK spotted a map application preinstalled on iPhones and iPads listing all of Mount Baekdu’s Cheonji crater lake in northern North Korea as part of Chinese territory.  

Ten days after the group complained to Apple, the listing was changed.  

An Apple spokesperson could not be reached for comment by press time. 

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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