South Korean TV station 'hires' AI broadcaster, pays lower salary than real person

The entire news bulletin of this station is made by AI. The broadcast script is written by ChatGPT, then read by an AI virtual MC, and broadcast as a complete television program.

Category: News

Recently, the Jeju provincial government in South Korea "hired" a virtual news broadcaster with a salary of 600,000 won (450 USD) per month.

Created entirely by computer, the female MC J-na is tasked with updating information on policies and local news on the island according to a script written by artificial intelligence. The virtual broadcaster cannot learn through AI, but can only read a pre-existing text.

According to the Jeju government, the software that creates this virtual female broadcaster is developed and managed by a private investment company, with a fee of 600,000 won per month.


"Hiring real news anchors costs a lot of money. Therefore, we sought a replacement solution and chose J-na," a Jeju provincial official told the Korean Heralds. The name J-na is a combination of the initials "Jeju," "News," and "AI."

According to Nongmin newspaper, to create a complete news bulletin, Jeju TV station will input press releases into ChatGPT, requesting adjustments to fit the television broadcast. After spell-checking and grammar correction, they will input the script into the virtual MC software. At that point, a voice is generated, and the station can also choose the appearance of the broadcaster or the shape of their hands.

In the broadcast on March 8th on the "Jeju Weekly" YouTube channel, J-na wore a blue dress to read the news. Occasionally, the virtual broadcaster would sway, nod, and move their hands to appear more natural. In the top right corner of the screen, a sign language interpreter translated what J-na said.

In the comments, many people expressed surprise and excitement about this AI news anchor. "It's time to replace all real broadcasters with cheaper and more beautiful AI MCs. Well done, Jeju Weekly," one user praised. Some even joked that the profession of news anchors would soon disappear, and even K-pop idols would have no use if AI continues to develop.

"AI technology is being applied in many places, but now we will truly live in a world where AI can do everything. Although it's scary, I still support the development of AI technology," a reader told DongA newspaper.

Despite having a natural appearance and gestures, J-na still has a major drawback in terms of sound. The voice of the AI MC is too slow and lacks emotion.

"The face is made with the latest AI, but the voice is a product of outdated AI technology," and "The shape is quite realistic, but the mouth shape and hand movements are still clumsy," were some of the comments below the video.

This is not the first time an AI news anchor has appeared in front of the South Korean public.

In November 2020, MBN became the first local TV station to use an AI news anchor, imitating a real-life model, MC Kim Joo-ha. Since then, this TV station has regularly broadcast daily programs using the AI replica of the female news anchor.

At the beginning of last year, SBS TV station also applied Zae-in, a fully AI-operated virtual avatar, for a segment of the news program "Morning Wide Part 3". Zae-in was created by AI Pulse9 and is also a member of the virtual girl group Eternity.

To commemorate the company's 30th anniversary in September last year, YTN cable TV station also introduced AI MCs Y-Go (male) and Y-On (female). AI developer ESTsoft was responsible for developing the two virtual news anchors by combining the faces of YTN station employees.