The Seoul Metropolitan Government has launched its Metaverse Seoul project, allowing residents of the South Korean capital city to access city services in a virtual environment.
In a Jan. 16 press briefing, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon announced the launch of the first phase of Metaverse Seoul following beta testing of the project. According to the mayor, the online environment will be a “place of communication for citizens” of the capital city, allowing them to virtually visit many of Seoul’s attractions, access official documents, file certain complaints and receive answers to questions on filing municipal taxes.
The city’s government reportedly spent roughly 2 billion won — $1.6 million — for the first phase of the metaverse project. According to Oh, the second phase will involve making Metaverse Seoul more accessible to senior citizens, who may have trouble commuting to city offices in person. More than 17% of South Korea’s population was over 65 years old as of 2022, according to data from Statistica.
South Korea, with one of the fastest internet connectivity speeds in the world for its 52 million residents, has led some of the initiatives around the metaverse and blockchain adoption as the space grows. In August, the city of Busan announced plans to build a crypto exchange in collaboration with FTX. After FTX collapsed in November, the local government subsequently dropped many of its global centralized exchange partners.
Related: Inside South Korea’s wild plan to dominate the metaverse
Globally, interest in the metaverse reportedly surged following Facebook rebranding to Meta in October 2021, with many companies announcing plans to open virtual offices. However, the crypto market crash and the fall of major platforms including FTX, Voyager Digital, and Celsius Network may have slowed adoption in 2022.