The South Korean Government Supports Metaverse: A Five-Year Plan to Build a Metaverse City

2021 is called the first year of the meta-universe. Since the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, more and more activities have been moved online, which has also made people’s attention to the meta-universe unprecedented.

Many companies have announced their entry into Meta Universe in 2021. Meta’s “All In” meta-universe, Microsoft, the world’s top two in market capitalization, also deploys meta-universe. Chip giants such as Nvidia, AMD, and Qualcomm have all laid out Metaverse-related businesses.

In addition to the corporate level, the government level also turned its attention to Metaverse. The Seoul government has issued policies and formulated plans, and announced that it will build the Seoul Metaverse platform within 5 years. The South Korean government has even established the “Metaspace Alliance”. In terms of metaverse policies, South Korea is at the forefront of the world.

Seoul builds a meta-universe city

On November 3, 2021, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon proposed the Seoul Vision 2030 (The Seoul Vision 2030) plan, which aims to make Seoul a coexisting city, a global leader, a safe city, and an emotional city in the future. The five-year basic plan of Yuan Cosmos Seoul is part of the vision for the future city. The plan aims to improve social mobility among citizens and enhance Seoul’s global competitiveness. Currently, Seoul plans to invest 3.9 billion won (approximately 21 million yuan) for the project.

According to the plan, Seoul’s meta-universe ecosystem is mainly carried out in three stages, namely introduction (2022), expansion (2023-2024), and settlement (2025-2026).

Seoul plans to establish a high-performance platform called Yuan Cosmos Seoul in the first phase of 2022, and provide services in the fields of economy, education, and tourism, and complete the creation of the platform before the end of the year to display it to the public. In the future, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will also expand the application of the Metaverse platform to all areas of municipal management to improve the efficiency of government officials.

Mayor Wu Se-hoon said in an interview that if this project becomes a reality, Seoul citizens will soon be able to put on their VR devices and meet with city officials for virtual consultations. Similarly, the municipal government can also participate in mass activities.

According to the five-year “Basic Plan for Metaverse Seoul”, the Metaverse platform is tentatively named “Metaverse Seoul” and will be completed by the end of next year. Looking at the world, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is the first local government to formulate a comprehensive mid-and long-term meta-universal policy plan. According to the plan, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will successively provide various commercial support facilities and services on the Metaverse platform, including the virtual mayor’s office, Seoul Fintech Lab, Seoul Investment, and Seoul Campus City.

In this plan, the services provided by the established Metaverse will cover seven basic areas including economy, education, tourism, communications, urban, administration and infrastructure. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has also formulated a policy to provide public services to overcome problems such as space-time constraints and language barriers in the real world through the use of the meta-universe platform developed by advanced technology.

In the economic field, Seoul will set up a Seoul Fintech Lab in Metaverse. Its purpose is to provide related services in the economic field in the virtual world. The Seoul Fintech Lab will help companies attract foreign investment in Metaverse, and virtual characters will provide foreign investors with consulting and one-stop services.

In addition, the startup company cultivation business in the Seoul startup camp Campus Town set up by Google for entrepreneurs will be conducted on the Metaverse platform, including digital content creation training and social activities.

In terms of the most active education field in Metaverse, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will set up a virtual campus of Seoul Open City University (Seoul Open City University). Seoul Learn, an online education platform operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, will provide young people with a variety of immersive content, such as lectures, mentorship programs, and job fairs.

In terms of tourism and sightseeing, Seoul will build tourist attractions, such as Gwanghwamun Plaza, Deoksugung Palace, and Namdaemun Market, etc., which will become a special area for the virtual tour of Yuan Cosmos Seoul. According to the introduction of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, tourists can take a city tour bus to tour Metaverse. Representative festivals and exhibitions in Seoul, such as Seoul Drum Festival and Seoul Lantern Festival, cannot be carried out due to the epidemic. In the future, they can be held as 3D immersive content on the Metaverse platform.

Then there are public services, such as civil litigation, consultation, and public facility reservations. The above services will also be provided in Metaverse to provide citizens with more convenient services, which will also improve the overall digital city level of Seoul. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will also create a meta-universe version of the mayor’s office in the city hall in the future, and use it as an open communication channel between the government and residents.

Seoul also plans to upgrade urban management using technologies that combine virtual reality, augmented reality, and extended reality. Many services are provided to vulnerable groups to ensure their safety and convenience, including the use of extended reality devices to provide safe and convenient services for the disabled.

Finally, Seoul will introduce the Metaverse Conference to host different events and use it as a communication channel. Seoul will also use the most advanced technology to develop a remote working environment based on Metaverse. The Seoul Metropolitan Government stated that it will launch a smart office in a virtual space. It will become a reality to provide consulting services for public officials in avatars.

In the announcement, Seoul Metropolitan Government officials stated that the purpose of the establishment of the Metaverse Ecosystem is to expand access to public city services. However, the Seoul government also stated that the current professional equipment for VR/AR and extended reality may be more expensive for many people and not as popular as smartphones and computers.

Park Jong-soo, Director of the Smart City Policy Department of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, concluded that: Metaverse is evolving into different forms according to the technological level and user needs, especially as a new concept that emerged after the new crown epidemic has attracted more and more attention. Seoul will create a new continent called “Universe Seoul” through the combination of public needs and private technology, making Seoul a smart and inclusive city.

The South Korean Government Supports Metaverse: A Five-Year Plan to Build a Metaverse City

Seoul Metaverse Platform

Source: Seoul Metropolitan Government official website

Form the Metaverse Alliance

In May 2021, the Korean government launched the “Metaverse Alliance” (Metaverse Alliance) to support the development of Metaverse technology and ecosystem. The meta-universe alliance initially consisted of 17 companies, including the major wireless operator SK Telecom, automobile giant Hyundai Motor Company, and 8 industry groups such as the Korea Mobile Internet Business Association. With the Korean government’s vigorous promotion of Metaverse-related projects, the alliance now includes more than 500 companies and institutions, including Samsung and KT (Korea telecommunications giant).

In this alliance, companies and industry groups will jointly share Metaverse trends and technologies and form an advisory group on ethical and cultural issues related to the Metaverse market. The alliance will also undertake the joint meta-universe development project. The Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology of South Korea stated that it will provide support to the alliance, especially in helping the company establish an open meta-universe platform.

An official from the Ministry of Science and Technology of South Korea stated that the South Korean government hopes to play a leading role in the meta-universe industry. The South Korean government announced the 2022 fiscal budget last week. Out of a total of 604.4 trillion won (3.23 trillion yuan) of budget, the government plans to allocate 9.3 trillion won (51.6 billion yuan) for accelerating digital transformation and cultivating the meta-universe. New industry.

The widening gap between the rich and the poor indirectly gave birth to the meta-universe boom

In Korea, more and more young people of the MZ generation are investing in the world of the meta-universe. The MZ generation refers to the young people born in the 80s to 00s in South Korea. Young Koreans are very welcome to Metaverse. Experts believe that the reason behind this phenomenon is the soaring housing prices and the huge income gap between the rich and the poor.

Kim Sang-Kyun, a professor of industrial engineering at Gangwon National University in South Korea, has published two best-selling books on the meta-universe. He commented on this: the enthusiasm for the meta-universe reflects the sadness and anger of the MZ generation due to polarization. Unlike the older generations, the MZ generation is a generation that communicates with the world through devices at birth. The MZ generation generally does not think that the metaverse is a substitute for reality, on the contrary, it is just another part of their lives.

South Korea is a developed country with a GDP of US$1.62 trillion in 2020 and a per capita of US$31,637. But South Korea’s economy is currently suffering from youth unemployment. In July 2021, South Korea’s overall unemployment rate was 3.7%, but the youth unemployment rate remained high, even reaching 10% at one time. In response to this number, the government has launched a plan to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises to hire young workers, but the actual effect is not good.

The South Korean Government Supports Metaverse: A Five-Year Plan to Build a Metaverse City

South Korean youth unemployment rate remains high

Source: Trading Economics

Many Korean college students are facing unemployment after graduation. In such a predicament, the madness of blockchain products such as Crypto and NFT has attracted the attention of young Koreans. “The Verge” published an article saying: “For young Koreans, Crypto seems to be a rare opportunity to stand up.”

Many young people interviewed by “Seoul Shimbun” said that the money from a lifetime of work can’t buy a house in Seoul anyway. It is better to invest in Crypto or NFT. This may be the “last chance to change your life.” Many young Koreans are unwilling to succumb to the current social situation, hoping to get hope to change their situation.

“Korea Times” recently released some survey data: Nearly a quarter of college students in South Korea are speculating on Crypto, and a third of investors are young people in their 20s. Among boys, the proportion of investing in Crypto is 34.4%, while that of girls is slightly lower, at 14.4%.

South Korea’s mobile big data platform IGA Works once investigated why it entered the Crypto industry. 33% of people said it was because of the high return on investment, and 31% said it was because of the low investment threshold, and there was no need to have a lot of money. 15.1% of the people said that this is the last way to overcome class consolidation and achieve class rise.

In the virtual world, people can buy virtual real estate, hold parties, shop, and even work, and the effects of these actions are very similar to those in the real world. For example, based on Ethernet Square a virtual world block chain of Decentraland , users can buy, sell and build block chain assets. After users purchase virtual real estate in Decentraland, they can build and operate real businesses on this land, such as nightclubs that charge access fees to other users, stores that sell virtual goods, and so on.

In Decentraland, land close to popular areas is usually more valuable than other land, and if good shops or facilities are built around a land, the price of the land can also increase. The real estate hype in Decentraland is even more exaggerated than the real world: when Decentraland first auctioned its land in 2017, some plots sold for about $20, and only four years later, the resale price has reached hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Decentraland has issued a statement stating that the number of users in South Korea has reached 7067, which is second only to the United States on the platform. Another meta universe land platform “Earth 2” stated that Koreans on its platform are the most active users, having spent approximately US$9.1 million (approximately RMB 58.08 million) on its platform.

A 37-year-old user of “Earth 2” said in a survey that he chose to buy the virtual land of “Earth 2” because he couldn’t afford the Gangnam area (the wealthy area of ​​Seoul, South Korea) in reality. In addition, the construction of Metaverse will not be affected by the epidemic, and there will be no labor shortage or soaring construction costs.

These meta-universe platforms are not regulated by governments of various countries and are easy to get hype. Recently, South Korea has taken heavy blows to restrict the development of Crypto, and the development of its own meta-universe is bound to supervise this field. Although there are still fewer Koreans participating in Metaverse-related “investments” compared to Crypto, regulatory issues will inevitably arise with the development of decentralized Metaverse in the future.

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