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South Korea To Launch Metaverse Fund – Find Out More

South Korea's Veture into the Metaverse
South Korea's Veture into the Metaverse

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South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT announced that it is investing 27.7 billion Korean won (US$21 million) in a fund intended to support metaverse efforts in the country. 

According to the press release, the 40 billion won ($30 million) fund, which South Korea unveiled on Tuesday, will incentivize smaller companies in the metaverse industry to actively pursue mergers and acquisitions in order to expand their operations into the global market. 

The Ministry justified the government’s investment in the fund by pointing to the growing interest of big IT corporations in the metaverse. The South Korean government acknowledges, given the inherent investment risks, it is challenging for local players to raise funds through private investments. 

The Yoon Suk-yeol-led administration, therefore, plans to assist domestic metaverse-related businesses to compete with international players in addition to mergers and acquisitions, stating “we plan to actively support it.”

The Metaverse – A growth engine for the future

While economies of the world were distracted by collapses in the banking sector whose ripple effects spread to crypto, South Korea was undeterred as it doubled down on its metaverse ambitions. The East Asia country believes that the Metaverse space has the potential to become a growth engine for the country’s economy in the future.

South Korea’s debut in the Metaverse began in February 2022 when it committed roughly US$185 million to build the country’s metaverse ecosystem. Since then, a plethora of metaverse projects have been launched in both the public and private spheres, with a digital replica of its capital city Seoul, being launched in January. 

Metaverse Seoul is a three-part project which is projected to be completed in 2026. According to the official announcement, it is first aimed at improving efficiency in public administration services. The press release also said that citizens can use and explore the virtual platform with Avatars. 

They will also be able to do this using the Metaverse Seoul app which offers services such as issuing proof of citizenship, tax counseling, mentoring programs for the youth, and a support center for struggling businesses.

The South Korean government reportedly spent roughly 2 billion won ($1.6 million) for the first phase of the metaverse project.

The latest announcement by the Ministry of Science and ICT is part of the second phase of the project where the government department is committed to setting up a 223.7 billion Korean won (US$180 million) fund to invest in the country’s metaverse industries. 

The South Korean government has displayed a particular interest in utilizing the potential of the metaverse, or virtual reality environments. This is seen as part of the Web3 evolution that is moving away from a centralized internet to decentralized platforms built on blockchain technology.

Note that major South Korean companies such as SK Telecom, Naver Corp and Samsung Electronics have expanded their businesses onto the metaverse. The country’s president Yoon Suk-yeol has also said developing the technology is a national priority.

Even as South Korea, its government ministries and top tech companies continue to expand into the metaverse, other players in the industry appear to be struggling. According to Google Trends, netizens have been gradually losing interest in metaverse as a search term over the last year. The chart below shows that its popularity has decreased 76% compared to its yearly peak in March 2022.

Search Trends of the Term “Metaverse”

Search Trends For The Term "Metaverse"
Source: Google Trends

Meanwhile, a CNBC report revealed that Meta lost $13.7 billion on Reality Labs in 2022 as its virtual platform Horizon Worlds failed to attract a significant number of returning users. 

Despite this, South Korea is positioning itself to become a global leader in the metaverse as a result of its significant investments, especially given the government’s commitment to support local businesses with both finances and resources.

South Korea is well on its way to establishing itself as a significant player in the virtual world industry with additional investments and government assistance.

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