South Korea’s K-pop industry is finding itself increasingly engaged in the metaverse. Blackpink, a globally popular female K-pop group, held a virtual fan-meeting event on Naver’s Zepeto metaverse last September that gathered some 46 million visitors in two weeks. Now the country’s booming pop industry may soon meet a girl band that is completely virtual.
According to a South Korean report, Metaverse Entertainment Inc., a company under Korea’s game developer Netmarble, is developing a virtual girl group project in partnership with Kakao Entertainment, Kakao Group’s subsidiary and owner of Melon, one of Korea’s most used music streaming services.
Kakao Entertainment made its investment in the partnership by acquiring 80,000 new shares of Metaverse Entertainment, which raised 12 billion Korean won (around US$10 million) in operating funds for the company.
The virtual K-pop girl group, namely MAVE:, is to be composed of four AI (artificial intelligence) members, scheduled to be launched next year. The two companies say that the partnership will bring “a synergy effect from the mix of meta-human technologies and entertainment.” Further details about the virtual girl band are yet to be released.
Lee Jin-soo, CEO of Kakao Entertainment, said the company “expects the combination of Netmarble’s top-tier character production abilities and Kakao Entertainment’s global value chain to cause a different shock to the new world of metaverse.” He added that the meta-idol would only be a start of its mission toward the global entertainment market.
Meanwhile, other big players in the K-pop industry are utilizing NFTs (non-fungible tokens) as a key to the metaverse.
HYBE, music label for the globally popular K-pop boy band BTS, is reported to be planning to partner with Dunamu, the operator of Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Upbit.
Recent Korean reports said the two are planning to swap their shares that are worth approximately US$42 million to US$77 million and subsequently partner in incorporating NFT technologies in turning BTS goods into digital assets. The reports say the use of BTS NFT goods will be expanded into the metaverse.
However, HYBE has responded to the reports on its information disclosure that although the company is considering various ventures with Dunamu, no final decisions have been made. It added that it will make a further announcement within a month.
Back in July, Dunamu acquired 2.5% of JYP entertainment, another major K-pop agency that manages popular idol groups TWICE, 2PM and Itzy, that promised an NFT platform combining Dunamu’s blockchain technologies and JYP’s K-pop intellectual properties.
The unexchangeable aspect of NFTs has captivated many K-pop fans, as the technology allows fans to own one-of-a-kind goods of their favorite artists. And the metaverse, like Naver’s Zepeto, has become a playground and a meeting place for K-pop fans. With metaverse avatars, fans can get digital autographs of their favorite artists and buy NFT goods. Soon, the metaverse may become inseparable from the world of K-pop.