Seoul, South Korea

South Korea invests $51M into metaverse projects

South Korea’s Ministry of Science has announced that it will invest KRW27.7 billion (US$21 million) into local projects building in the metaverse.

In an official disclosure, the ministry said the earmarked funds will be used to prop up 13 new projects leveraging virtual worlds in the health, tourism, and education industries. Aside from merely sinking in the funds, the Ministry of Science added startups would also receive technological and regulatory support in order to thrive.

The Ministry announced that it would also invest KRW40 billion (US$30 million) to fund smaller firms dabbling in virtual world projects. The ministry said this would be used to urge the smaller firms to pursue mergers and acquisitions that will strengthen the local ecosystem.

South Korea has been pursuing metaverse dominance since 2021, opting for a broad national outlook for virtual world development. Since the start of 2022, the South Korean government has splurged over $185 million to support firms and creators building in the metaverses with plans to expand its state-backed metaverses to the rest of the world.

“South Korea stands as the most aggressive and determined government in pushing the development of the metaverse,” tech journalist Nina Xiang told one news outlet. “Other Asian countries don’t have similar types of metaverse programs in both scale and scope as that of the South Korean government.”

Recently the country announced work on Metaverse Seoul, a replica of South Korea’s capital city, which is expected to be completed by 2026. According to the disclosure, the move is designed to expand the city’s public services into virtual worlds, allowing avatars to access tax offices and counseling facilities.

The tech-savvy population and the proliferation of several tech companies in the country offer validity to South Korea’s grand metaverse ambitions. The country’s domestic hardware industry is widely expected to offer hardware solutions to bring its metaverse dreams to reality.

Ethics of a brave new world

South Korea’s Science Ministry unveiled a metaverse strategy to guide the country’s steady march to virtual worlds. The strategy consists of ethical principles and a road map resting on four major ambits, including creating an enabling environment and deepening the existing talent pool.

The ethical principles include the promotion of authenticity, autonomy, respect for privacy, inclusiveness, and fairness. The metaverse strategy was the brainchild of a collaboration of experts drawn from engineering, law, ethics, and data protection.

Watch: Enabling the Real World Metaverse

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