The Seoul government officially launched its metaverse. This platform, called Metaverse Seoul, allows users to play games, chat, hold meetings, get advice on setting up a business, file public documents, and visit Seoul’s famous tourist attractions.
By 2023, Seoul hopes to create a metaverse "allowing citizens to conveniently meet with avatar officials to deal with civil complaints and consultations, which are currently handled only by visiting municipal offices." https://t.co/cl6KiqldPX
— William Gallo (@GalloVOA) November 3, 2021
According to Kim Jin-man, director general of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Digital Policy Office, “the Chinese and Japanese services are under development and will be available in the second or third phase of the platform, to be launched in the next three years.”
During the first phase of the platform, Seoul residents will be able to submit official city documents and complaints and get personalized answers on local taxes. Businesses can also consult experts remotely via chat, voice, video, and screen sharing in the platform’s virtual business help center.
There is also an avatar-based counseling service, called Metaforest, where students can communicate their personal and academic difficulties without revealing their faces.
Users can play in a virtual replica of Seoul Square and virtually visit the mayor’s office. They can also take virtual tours of Seoul’s 10 most popular attractions, such as the Blue House, Seoul N Tower, Gyeongbok Palace, Seoul Forest, Han River, Lotte Tower, Gwanghwamun Square, and Bukchon Hanok Village.
Seoul City Hall Mayor Oh Se-hoon said that Metaverse Seoul “is an inclusive administrative service that everyone can enjoy without barriers of time and space.”
However, he acknowledged the digital divide between older residents and the younger, tech-savvy population, and said the city government is considering launching an “easy mode” program in the second phase of development, which will allow seniors to use the services offered by the platform.
The city government has spent about 2 billion won ($1.6 million) and plans to spend another 2.8 billion won ($2.26 million) this year on the second phase. The final phase will be launched in 2026.
Seoul is the first major city to launch a metaverse utility platform. Over the next five years, the city plans to implement more offerings for government, business, tourism, and culture.
Since the launch of its three-year metaverse industry promotion law last September, the Korean government and companies have been developing metaverse platforms for different sectors, such as banking, education, a digital twin of an industrial city and others.
The Korean government has already allocated some $186.7 million to support the metaverse industry. The country’s metaverse will be a platform that supports the virtual growth of cities, education, and media.
Citizens can also participate in creative contests in the Seoul metaverse, and their best creations will be displayed in the virtual contest space.
The Metaverse Seoul app is available on Google Play and Apple App Store, as well as on the website.
The Metaverse Seoul platform has already been hailed as “The Best Invention of 2022” by Time magazine and is expected to become a new standard for administrative services in the future.
With the second phase of the Metaverse project, Seoul plans to expand municipal services by sector in 2023.
South Korea and Web3
South Korea has done well to enter the virtual world. The city of Seongnam (South Korea) declared its intention to create a digital replica that will allow residents to access municipal services and information via NFT authentication.
When Tuvalu, a small island nation, proclaimed its intention to become the world’s first virtual country, the scenarios for using the virtual world were beyond imagination.
Tuvalu, which has a community of about 12,000 people, is determined to preserve its heritage and culture as rising sea levels threaten to submerge the entire area.
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