Seoul, First Local Gov’t to Start New-Concept Public Service with “Metaverse Platform”

The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) is the first local government in Korea to establish a metaverse platform, which has emerged as a contactless communication channel in the post-pandemic era, to start providing a new-concept public service by using the platform in its administration.

The SMG plans to establish “Metaverse Seoul” (tentatively named), a high-performance platform, by the end of next year, and create a metaverse ecosystem for all areas of its municipal administration, such as economic, cultural, tourism, educational and civic service, in three stages from next year.

Starting with the pilot program of a Bosingak Belfry virtual bell ringing event at the end of this year, the SMG will consecutively provide various business support facilities and services, including the Virtual Mayor’s Office, Seoul FinTech Lab, Invest Seoul and Seoul Campus Town, on its metaverse platform.

In 2023, the SMG will open “Metaverse 120 Center” (tentatively named), a virtual public service center. The avatar public officials in the metaverse will provide convenient consultations and civil service, which was available only through the civil service center at Seoul City Hall.

In addition, Seoul’s major tourist attractions, such as Gwanghwamun Plaza, Deoksugung Palace and Namdaemun Market, will be introduced through the “Virtual Tourist Zone,” and lost historical resources, such as Donuimun Gate, will be recreated in the virtual space. From 2023, Seoul’s leading festivals, such as the Seoul Lantern Festival, will be held in the metaverse so that it can be enjoyed by all people around the world. The SMG will also develop services for the socially vulnerable including safety and convenience content for people with disabilities using extended reality (XR).

The SMG has established a policy for providing public service to overcome restrictions in the real world that are posed by temporal/spatial limitations and language barrier, among others, through the metaverse platform developed with advanced technologies. The SMG will also expand the platform application to all areas of its municipal administration in order to increase working efficiency of government officials.

On Wed, Oct. 6, 2021 the SMG announced its Five-year Metaverse Seoul Promotion Master Plan that includes the content above. The master plan contains 20 promotional tasks for seven areas—economic, educational, cultural and tourism, communication, urban development, administrative, and infrastructure—by reflecting the trends and demands for metaverse service in the public and private sectors. The SMG is the first local government in Korea to develop a comprehensive mid to long-term metaverse policy plan. This is one of key strategies to make Seoul a “future emotional city,” as suggested by Mayor Oh Se-hoon in Seoul Vision 2030.