Many have started to believe the metaverse will disrupt the existing way of life with even more impact than the worldwide web had. And it seems that notion is spreading like wildfire, including in South Korea. Now television home shopping companies have started to utilize metaverse technology to sell merchandise, and two of the country’s major cities have announced plans to support the metaverse industry.

Different South Korean industries have already accepted the metaverse as part of their future, especially in entertainment and gaming. The two have in common that their priority is set on providing services to customers as immersive as possible, hence they chose the metaverse. 

TV home shopping companies appear to share the same goal as the two industries. GS Shop, who first introduced television home shopping in Korea back in 1994, became the first to demonstrate metaverse technologies during their televised segment as well. 

Yesterday, in their home shopping segment selling gourmet nuts from Otree, GS Shop featured a virtual tour of Otree’s factory. GS constructed an exact 3D replica of Otree’s production site on the metaverse. The aim is to reassure the quality of production to the customers before they make purchasing decisions. For developing the factory metaverse, GS Shop visited the actual site where equipment and machinery was scanned and digitized, so that customers could view the making of Otree’s gourmet products more closely than they could have in the physical world.

Another major contender in the industry, Lotte Home Shopping, is developing meta-human technologies to debut a virtual show host named Lucy — a 29-year-old model and design researcher. Lucy was developed last September, and started to gain popularity on social media platforms as an influencer. Lotte Home Shopping plans to upgrade Lucy’s movements and voice expressions to be closer to that of humans to expand the scope of her activities as a virtual show host. Lotte says that Lucy may appear on home shopping programs from next year. It added that with Lucy, Lotte Home Shopping will continue to develop augmented reality (AR) technology to speed up their move towards the metaverse.

NS Home Shopping has also recently developed AI (artificial intelligence) technology to describe product lines in different voices through deep learning in order to suit different scripts and atmospheres.

Meanwhile, the city of Gwangju set out to support progression into the metaverse by a city government. It announced its vision project named “AI Meta-city,” which includes strategies to construct an AI-centric metaverse infrastructure and develop and demonstrate metaverse-led technologies. The city will promote both the metaverse industry and its existing economy by applying metaverse technology into Gwangju’s five representative industries: medical healthcare, eco-friendly automobiles, eco-friendly energy, cultural contents and manufacturing.

“”We will create new jobs for the MZ generation [a Korean term merging millennials and Generation Z] by creating a new industrial ecosystem from converging artificial intelligence-oriented city and metaverse developments,” said Lee Yong-seop, Gwangju mayor, at the announcement yesterday.

South Korea’s capital, Seoul also pledged its commitment to the growing metaverse industry earlier this month by announcing a five-year development plan. The plan’s early stage goals include building public services on the metaverse such as a civil complaint department. Nearing the end of Seoul’s metaverse plan around 2026, it will create a metaverse-based smart working system with a virtual office that can perform administrative tasks without time and space constraints.

Kim Sang-kyun, professor of industrial engineering at Kangwon National University, says that Korea has an ideal setting for the metaverse-led growth: “Metaverse technologies require a lot of new technical devices. South Korea has the advantage in that its developed tech and manufacturing sectors are capable.”