Seoul cityscape at twilight in South Korea

Seoul metropolitan unveils metaverse project to South Korea residents

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has unveiled its metaverse project for residents to explore after months in the making. The city’s Mayor, Oh Se-hoon, announced the launch in a press briefing on January 16, saying that the virtual world will serve as a “place of communication for citizens.”

The virtual world dubbed “Metaverse Seoul” follows a successful beta test that ran for the greater part of 2022. Metaverse Seoul will offer the city’s residents the chance to learn about South Korea’s capital, visit tourist attractions, and have access to official city documents, the mayor said.

Other features of the state-run virtual world include a library for books, a fintech lab, a corporate support center, and a Youth Mentoring Avatar virtual counseling room. The mayor’s press statement noted that citizens will be able to access tax and real estate information applicable in real-world Seoul.

So far, the city has spent KRW2 billion (US$1.6 million) to build the metaverse project, with local Web3 firms taking part in the development process. Se-hoon said the second iteration of Metaverse Seoul would primarily target senior citizens who might not be able to handle commuting through the city.

Data from Statista shows that nearly 17% of Korean citizens are above the age of 65, with experts predicting that the number of senior citizens using the platform could be as high as 1 million individuals in the coming years.

The South Korean metaverse adoption rate is among the highest in the world, with a technology-savvy population being touted as the reason for the high interest in virtual worlds. Another reason advanced by pundits for South Korea’s metaverse lead is the country’s fast internet connectivity speeds.

The national government is betting big on virtual worlds with a $177 million fund for creators, with regulators describing the sector as “an uncharted digital contingent with indefinite potential.” South Korean cities like Daegu, Busan, and Gwangju are exploring virtual worlds following the growing interest in them, going as far as inking multi-million dollar deals with international firms.

Metaverse outlook for 2023

Investors are unsure of which direction the pendulum will swing for the metaverse, given its lackluster performance in 2022. Last year, interest in virtual worlds waned due to the general slump of virtual currencies, prompting a capital flight for the industry.

Industry experts have suggested that the reverse could be the case for the metaverse in 2022, given the keen interests expressed by governments. Pundits cite the widening use cases of virtual worlds as a potential trigger for VC funds into the space again.

Watch: Masters of the Metaverse

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