Seoul joins Metaverse

On Nov. 3, the South Korean government announced a plan that will make its capital become a metaverse. Metaverse is 3-D that relies on virtual reality. This means that Seoul would have a virtual reality city. Seoul is planning to have public services and cultural events available in the metaverse. Residents of Seoul can visit historic places such as museums and the mayor’s office by using virtual reality.

Metaverse is a part of a 3.9 billion won (3.3 million USD) investment of Seoul’s mayor, Oh Se-hoon. It’s part of a ten-year plan for the capital to improve social mobility among citizens and boost the economy. However, this is just part of a bigger plan by South Korea. Seoul joining metaverse is the first part of South Korea’s Digital New Deal. Digital New Deal is a nationwide plan to use technology to improve health care, centralize infrastructure, and boost the economy of South Korea. This is caused by the pandemic which made South Korea lose one of the main sources of infrastructure: tourism. The city officials stated that their goal is to broaden access to public city service.

Seoul’s metropolitan officials will develop its own metaverse platform by the end of 2022 and will be fully operational in 2026. However, the platform will be used for the first time with a virtual reality New Year’s bell ringing ceremony this year. In 2023, Seoul will open the “Metaverse 120 Center.” This will be a place where avatars will handle residents who have questions about metaverse by physically going to the city hall. 

It is unclear, however, who will be the ones that will get to join Metaverse and most importantly, how they will access it. Many people can’t afford virtual reality headsets, which cost about $300 to $600, something that the city of Seoul has to consider.