Seoul Is Set To Become The First Major City To Enter The “Metaverse,” But Here’s What That Actually Means

There are mixed opinions on the announcement!

When it comes to advancing technology, there is no doubt that South Korea is always changing with the times and adapting to the world’s current climate. Even in the world of K-Pop, South Korea has made moves to avoid as much disruption to daily life during the pandemic.

BTS during their online concert | @KPop_Herald/ Twitter

Recently, it seems as if South Korea have cemented their status as a technologically advanced nation as their capital Seoul has become the first major city and government to enter the “Metaverse.”

To many people, the term Metaverse might sound like something out of a superhero movie. In reality, it isn’t too far from that and is a way of making aspects of life more accessible to everyone. The Wall Street Journal defined the Metaverse as “an extensive online world where people interact via digital avatars.” 

The city of Seoul | @qz/ Twitter

On November 3, Seoul announced that through this Metaverse, they hope to make several of their public services and cultural events available, focusing on the idea of virtual reality. If the plan is successful, Seoul residents would do everything from the comfort of their own homes, including visiting the virtual city hall to do anything from a historical tour to even filing a civil complaint.

Some of the more concrete plans include a virtual new year’s bell-ringing ceremony this December and, in 2023, Seoul hopes to open a “Metaverse 120 Center.” It would be a virtual place where avatars would be able to handle citizen concerns on different issues.

| Korean Herald/ YouTube 

Once the technology has been developed further, many believe that anything is possible in the Metaverse. From attending classes, going shopping, and even witnessing live sports events as if they were athletes, with these avatars, tech companies want to change the way people live their lives.

In particular, it has been compared to the concepts in films like Ready Player One or The Sims game, where the Metaverse would be seen as a form of escapism from real life. In terms of K-Pop, it could be compared to the use of aespa‘s use of AI (artificial intelligence) characters in their own virtual world but also come into the members’ reality.

Aespa and their AI counterparts | SM Entertainment

Yet, when the announcement was made on social media, many people from across the world had different views on the concept. While many praised it for allowing those who may not be able to travel to have the same experiences, many have criticized it for taking away real human interactions.

After K-Pop agencies have started moving forward with the use of NFTs and virtual idols, including the avatars for aespa, it seems like technology is engulfing South Korea. With more people working from home due to the pandemic, the Metaverse could soon become the new normal.

Source: Wall Street Journal and Quartz