South Korea is making a significant leap into Web3 by launching ‘Metaverse Seoul’, a city-backed public digital world aimed at improving its public services. 

The metaverse will allow Seoul citizens to build their own avatars in the Metaverse Seoul app to interact and build with other people. 

This is part of a three-year goal to expand the city’s public services in administrative departments, handing the opportunity for users to issue proof of citizenship, enter youth counsel sessions, read e-books and offer support for businesses housed inside the digital city. 

South Korean officials claim Metaverse Seoul to be the ‘first city-backed public metaverse platform in the world’, and aims to realise the metaverse’s potential when it is officially completed in 2026. 

In 2022, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and Information Technology announced they would invest up to 223.7bn Korean Won ($180m) into blockchain technology and the metaverse industry. 

President Yoon Suk-yeol has described the country’s venture into the metaverse as a “national priority” to help develop the country further ahead in the digital space. 

The second stage, which is expected to launch next year, will look to expand Metaverse Seoul to host more businesses and foreign investors, with further plans to house real estate counselling too. 

The third act of the digital world will then aim to integrate virtual and augmented reality functions connected to the city’s overall infrastructure, expected to be complete by the end of the three-year project in 2026. 

South Korea’s Science Ministry has stated that the metaverse is a “convergence of virtual and physical reality” which allows people to interact and create social and economic values within a decentralised digital environment. 

The metaverse has been cited by South Korean officials as a way to revolutionise their society as more firms and countries are exploring the opportunities Web3 and blockchain may hold. 

In a recent interview with Web3 Labs, Founder and CEO, Conor Svensson, proclaimed that the metaverse has the potential to be “more disruptive than the internet itself”, but does treat it with caution as the digital world is still in its infancy. 

He said: “When the metaverse comes to fruition, it has the potential to be more disruptive to humanity than the internet itself, assuming we are talking about a metaverse that the majority of the world’s online population can access. The revenue opportunities for businesses that position themselves well could be monumental.

“Hence, from a corporate perspective, companies need to be willing to make a long-term investment in the metaverse, as it’s unlikely to pay dividends in the next year or two.

“This tradeoff of ‘risk versus reward’ is the biggest challenge right now, and given all of the moving parts and technical uncertainty, organisations need to keep this front of mind when taking any bets with it.”