Seoul’s pioneering project to join the Metaverse World

Seoul to become the first city to enter the metaverse – an they aim to do it by 2023

The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has recently announced its plan to become the first major city to join the metaverse.

The project is called the ‘Metaverse Seoul’ and aims at creating a virtual communication ecosystem covering all areas of municipal administration. The comprehensive long-term plan includes tourism, civic services, culture, education, and economic, and provides a glimpse of how the metaverse could change the future of cities, in South Korea and beyond.

The project is part of the city’s mayor Oh Se-hoon’s Seoul Vision 2030 plan, which according to the mayor aims to make Seoul “a city of coexistence, a global leader, a safe city, and a future emotional city”.

The SMG established ‘Seoul Vision 2030 based’ on more than 100 sessions of in-depth discussions and deliberations of the Seoul Vision 2030 Committee comprising 122 individuals from diverse fields and classes, which took place since May.

The top vision presented in Seoul Vision 2030 is “Seoul, up and running again for fairness.” The four future visions to be established by 2030 to realize the top vision are Seoul as a city of coexistence, a global leader, a safe city, and a future emotional city.

“In order to realize these visions through policies, four policy directions have been decided: the restoration of Seoul’s hierarchical mobility ladder; the enhancement of Seoul’s global city competitiveness; the realization of a safe urban environment; and the improvement of city’s dignity with elegance. Under the four policy directions, there are 16 strategic targets and 78 policy tasks to be pursued” noted on the Seoul Vision 2030 plan.

The South Korean capital has already invested about €2.8 billion for the project, which will allow Seoul citizens to be able to put on their Virtual Reality headset to meet city officials for virtual consultation or to attend mass events without leaving their physical space.

As stated on the Seoul Vision 2030 plan, “in order to guarantee the executive ability of the policy tasks of Seoul Vision 2030, the SMG will designate a director in charge for each task, analyze the process of each project through the quarterly project evaluation for the smooth pursuit of the project each year, and improve and develop the project plan. In addition, it will closely communicate and consult with the city council in the process of concretizing and implementing the policy tasks that are deduced from the vision”.

According to the city’s plan, the Virtual Mayor’s Office, Seoul FinTech Lab, Invest Seoul, and Seoul Campus Town will be developed on a metaverse platform, to ensure business entities and citizens will have access to municipal administration services and support facilities. Also, in 2023 the SMG plans to open the “Metaverse 120 Center”, where avatar public officials will provide consultation and civil service, with an aim at replacing the traditional civil service center at Seoul City Hall.

Among others, the plans include the development of the “Virtual Tourist Zone” where tourists will be able to visit virtually major tourist attractions such as famous palaces, plazas, and markets in the capital. There are also plans to digitally restore destroyed historical sites in the metaverse, and famous festivals such as the Seoul Lantern Festival will be also available in the metaverse so that people around the world can experience them. “Seoul will pioneer a new continent called ‘Metaverse Seoul’ by combining public demand with private technology,” said Park Jong-Su, Director General of Smart City Policy at the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

George Mavridis is a freelance journalist and writer based in Greece. His work primarily covers tech, innovation, social media, digital communication, and politics. He graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. Also, he holds an MA in Media and Communication Studies from the Malmö University of Sweden and an MA in Digital Humanities from the Linnaeus University of Sweden.