Travellers can soon explore the South Korean capital in virtual reality, with the announcement that Metaverse Seoul is to become the “first city-backed public metaverse platform in the world.”
Part of a multi-stage project expected to conclude by 2026, Metaverse Seoul will help citizens access services such as tax counselling, youth mentoring, and business support. Residents – or rather their digital avatars – can also use the virtual platform to access their proof of citizenship.
Virtual replicas of great cities are nothing new, of course: NFT project Next Earth has already cloned our planet and sold tracts of virtual real estate in many desirable locales, including New York City. What makes Metaverse Seoul different is that it is tied to improving public services in the real world.
As its metaverse-centric roll-out continues, Metaverse Seoul will branch out into areas such as foreign investor services, real estate counselling, and city infrastructure, integrating A/R features to blur the line between virtual and physical reality.
'An Important Communication Tool'
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon heralded the first phase of Metaverse Seoul, saying the platform would be accessible to citizens later this year. If they don’t fancy accessing the various services described above, incidentally, South Koreans can instead opt to visit the city’s top 10 tourist attractions, from Lotte Tower and Gyeongbokgung Palace to Seoul Forest Park.
“Metaverse Seoul will be an important communication tool for citizens in the new normal,” predicted Oh Se-hoon, who has served as the city’s Mayor since April 2021. “It is an inclusive administrative service that everyone can take advantage of without any time and space obstacles.”
Early last year, the government of South Korea detailed plans to fund metaverse projects through university grants and job-creating schemes. Those plans appear to be bearing fruit, though it remains to be seen whether Metaverse Seoul will capture the charm of its progenitor or function as a dreary outpost of the country’s administrative HQ.
After all, the idea of jumping into the metaverse to have “remote consulting sessions” in a virtual business support center doesn’t exactly sound like a thrilling prospect. That said, it’s a positive development that signals growing metaverse maturity.