South Korea Is Building Its Own K-Pop Metaverse

The metaverse will supposedly play a central role in the South Korean economy. It’s hard to ignore the growing rise of South Korean media and culture in Western countries. Ever since Psy graced our ears with his now-iconic song ‘Gangnam Style’ in 2012, the popularity of South Korean music, film, and television has skyrocketed in […]

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VRScout & Kyle Melnick

The metaverse will supposedly play a central role in the South Korean economy.

It’s hard to ignore the growing rise of South Korean media and culture in Western countries. Ever since Psy graced our ears with his now-iconic song ‘Gangnam Style’ in 2012, the popularity of South Korean music, film, and television has skyrocketed in places like the United States. But that’s nothing compared to the popularity of this media in its home country.

Superstars acts like BTS alone have generated billions for the South Korean economy. The K-pop industry is so massive, the country actually relies upon it as one of its primary sources of gross national income next to Samsung. This blend of culture and technology is leading the country down interesting new avenues; the most important of which being the metaverse.

In September 2021, the South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT announced plans to invest a whopping $7.5 billion into digital technologies by the year 2025; 9% ($2.2 billion) of which will go to “metaverse-related” technologies. According to a report by London-based analytics and consulting company GlobalData, the country will use part of this funding to develop its own K-pop metaverse.

Wolf3D metaverse avatars. / Image Credit: Ready Player Me

“Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard has highlighted the importance of gaming in the development of metaverse platforms and South Korea is uniquely well placed to become one of the world’s leaders in the metaverse,” said Rory Gopsill, Graduate Analyst at GlobalData’s Thematic Team. “The country is home to a huge gaming market, with cloud gaming leaders such as Netmarble. Further, South Korea’s entertainment industry has embraced virtual concerts, and is developing a K-pop metaverse.

According to the Ministry of Science and ICT, the country plans on developing 220 metaverse firms supported by 40,000 industry experts by the year 2026. This would position the country as the fifth largest metaverse market in the world.

Horizon Worlds. / Image Credit: Meta

“Metaverse hype may have blossomed with Facebook’s rebrand, but South Korea has been storming ahead with its metaverse plans since early 2021,” added Gopsill. “For example, in September 2021, the government had already committed to investing $2.2 billion into metaverse-related technologies such as cloud and blockchain by 2025. This latest announcement corroborates what a series of initiatives have already confirmed: that the metaverse will play a central role in the South Korean economy.”

It seems as though everyone, and I mean everyone, is developing their own virtual worlds. Earlier this week we learned that even Walmart is creating its own virtual shopping metaverse that will support NFTs as well as crypto. The popular kid-friendly video game Roblox also appears to be getting in on the action.

Feature Image Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

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