Metaverse, South Korea’s Digital New Deal

“An unexplored digital continent with undefined potential”. That’s how Tim Hyesook (South Korea’s Minister of Science and ICT) describes the metaverse. Like modern-day explorers, South Korea is putting no less than $187 million on the table to explore this new continent, as part of a “Digital New Deal”.

The metaverse, an obvious choice for South Korea

South Korea, future leader of the metaverse?

If South Korea wants to invest in the metaverse, it’s not surprising: a hyper-connected youth, adept at video games and VR (Virtual Reality), large technology companies, one of the best 5G coverage in the world, a strong soft power: all the ingredients are there for the project to bear fruit.

At a time when Facebook is changing its name to Meta, and projects like Decentraland or The Sandbox are making news, South Korea also wants its share of the cake.

Zepeto, the metaverse made in Korea

The country is looking to position itself on the metaverse market, which is expected to be valued at $280 billion according to analysts.

Seoul, the country’s capital, hosted Metacon 2021 last October, the largest international conference dedicated to metaverses.

Unlike other countries, South Korea already has the advantage of having launched successful platforms like Zepeto, an application created by Naver in 2018.

Zepeto Metaverse South Korea

This application, which already has 200 million users, 80% of whom are teenagers, allows users to create and customize their avatar, a true reflection of themselves in a virtual world.

A new form of sociability in which users can compete in mini-games (sponsored by giants like Samsung), meet in virtual places, etc.

Zepeto is also a platform that allows its users to market their creations thanks to the Studio Zepeto program that brings together 1.5 million creators. A commercial potential that interests big brands like Gucci, Nike, Zara, …

Digital New Deal: public and private sectors join forces for the metaverse
To launch this Digital New Deal, the Minister of Science and ICT has rallied a consortium of 17 companies, public and private.

Among others, SK Telecom Co (the largest telephone operator in the country), Hyundai Motor Co, or MOIBA (Korea Mobile Internet Business Association). This alliance between private and public sectors is expected to boost the adoption of the metaverse nationwide.

The ministry also said it will organize community-driven creative activities, a metaverse developer competition and a hackathon.

“It is important to create a world-class metaverse ecosystem as a starting point to intensively foster a new hyperconnected industry.”

Park Yungyu, head of communication and policy at the ministry

South Korea will first train experts: it announces the opening of a training center to “train young experts” on digital worlds. In addition, a significant part of the budget will be devoted to virtual reality and augmented reality equipment. Their distribution and marketing will be encouraged by the government.

However, it should be noted that the government should pay more attention to regulation, recalling that the publication of NFT games is prohibited in the country, as well as the issuance of tokens.

While Seoul is still recovering from the Terra Luna crash a few weeks ago, Korean authorities are paying more attention to regulations such as the issuance of tokens or the creation of NFTs. Is this regulation a brake for the development of the metaverse or on the contrary a boost? The future will tell us…