In South Korea, culture plays an active role in developing industries – and industries help further promote Korean culture. Developments in the “metaverse” show us how this partnership operates.
In response to the pandemic, companies are building online worlds where people can interact with other users through a virtual character (think about using a multiplayer online game to hold a staff meeting). This has been particularly popular in South Korea.
Last December, the National Museum of Korea (NMK) set up a replica of its children’s museum on the popular multiplayer online game Minecraft. Users could log on and safely experience the museum exhibits from their homes without risking potential exposure to COVID-19.
This paralleled earlier efforts by the government to utilize Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology to digitally restore heritage sites. This was not only a means of boosting the country’s tourism sector but also a space for companies developing cutting-edge technologies to pilot their products.
The metaverse project by the NMK appears to be a similar effort to provide the industry with a safe testing ground before moving towards broader commercialization. Other museums in Korea are also following suit – one of them recently attracted 80,000 people to their virtual exhibit.
These developments come at a major juncture for Korea’s metaverse industry. Korea’s top metaverse platform Zepeto recently surpassed 200 million users. With other competitors also quickly rising to the forefront (U.S. metaverse giant Roblox has 43 million daily users) partnerships between industry and culture may help Korea’s metaverse platforms more rapidly improve their services and become a globally dominant player.
This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.
Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Sean Blanco, Marina Dickson, and Jina Park. Picture from the flickr account of H.B. Kang