South Korea Stimulates Corporate Growth With $187m Metaverse Investment

While companies like Meta and HTC Vive are investing in their metaverse vision, governments are notoriously slow when it comes to technological changes. Unless you’re South Korea, of course, which has announced plans to invest 223.7 billion Korean won ($186.7 million USD) in a national metaverse project aimed at stimulating growth for businesses.

Image credit: Shutterstock

The investment was pledged by South Korea’s Ministry of ICT, Science, and Future Planning, to be spent accomplishing four main goals across an ecosystem dubbed the “Expanded Virtual World”. Aiming to support both digital content as well as corporate growth, this metaverse plan will be somewhat different to others as it’ll also look to expand real-life cities onto the platform. It will also be used for education and to help nurture youth experts.

Part of the investment will be used to attract content creators to help build it. The ministry will be hosting community-oriented activities such as a metaverse developer contest and hackathons. Furthermore, the government will also look at creating regulatory systems and laws that would be favourable to the metaverse.

“The Ministry of Science and ICT through the ‘Expanded Virtual World New Industry Leading Strategy’ aims to create a sustainable and expanded virtual world ecosystem based on public-private partnerships. Focus also on inter-company collaboration, technology development, and regulatory innovation so that domestic companies can compete with global companies,” the South Korean ministry said in a statement.

Seoul - South Korea
Downtown skyline of Seoul, South Korea with Seoul Tower. Image credit: ESB Professional – Shutterstock

This isn’t the first time South Korea has looked to decisively position itself within the metaverse. Last year South Korea’s capital Seoul announced the ‘Metaverse Seoul’ project that would be created by 2026 thanks to a $33 million investment.

Similarly, the country’s $200bn sovereign wealth fund, Korea Investment Corp (KIC), revealed its increasing investment in Silicon Valley startups with a particular focus on metaverse ventures.

As South Korea continues to push into the metaverse, gmw3 will keep you updated.

Oculus Quest 2 Comes To South Korea Telecom Stores

Oculus Quest 2 is coming to South Korean retail tomorrow via SK Telecom, the country’s largest wireless carrier, according to Korea Herald. It is already available online from Facebook.

SK Telecom has over 14,000 retail stores in the country. We don’t yet know how many will stock Quest 2, or whether demos will be available. South Korea is still battling a third wave of COVID-19.

Quest 2 was the second Oculus headset to officially come to Korea. In late 2019 SK Telecom forged a partnership with Facebook to sell its now-retired low cost media headset Oculus Go as the hardware for SK’s Jump VR services.

Back in 2016 Oculus filed with Korean regulators for the original PC-based Rift, but evidently this was either cancelled by Facebook or rejected by officials. Rift S didn’t come to Korea either, and nor did Quest 1.

SK Telecom plans to expand its VR content lineup with multiple Quest 2 games featuring characters from popular Korean properties including Kakao Friends & Nexon. It also plans to launch a VR English learning tool using voice recognition, as well as expanding its Jump VR service.

Pricing is the same as buying from Facebook: ₩414,000 (around $370).

Mobile AR Game Minecraft Earth Is Now Available In The United Kingdom

Death, taxes and Minecraft Earth launch countries – that’s what it feels like lately, with new launch countries for the mobile AR game popping up every few days. This time, it’s the United Kingdom’s turn to get building.

People living in the UK can now download the game, which is in early access and launching gradually worldwide, a few countries at a time. The United Kingdom joins New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, Mexico, Sweden, Canada, South Korea and the Philippines as launch countries. There is still no word on a United States launch, but given that the UK is one of the bigger markets that the game has launched in, a US launch might be coming soon.

The mobile AR game is Minecraft’s response to Pokemon Go and other map-based mobile games that get you out of the house and exploring the real world, intertwined with AR elements. You can build structures, craft weapons, collect materials by exploring your real-world neighborhood and fight monsters in AR during the “adventure” events scattered across the map.

While the game does share similarities to other map-based AR games, it also has its own nice Minecraft-spin to it that offers some nice points of difference. I’ve been able to try the game out here in Australia already, so you can expect a first impressions piece on the game soon.

What are your thoughts on Minecraft Earth? Have you tried the game out, and are you still waiting for it to launch in your country? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Mobile AR Game Minecraft Earth Is Now Available In The United Kingdom appeared first on UploadVR.

Minecraft Earth Launches In More Countries, Now Available In Canada, South Korea, Philippines

The Minecraft Earth release schedule seems to be speeding up a bit – just a few days after the last batch of countries, the new AR mobile game is now available in Canada, South Korea and the Philippines.

The game, while still in early access, is now available publicly to anyone in Australia, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Iceland. The release schedule is gradual, rolling out a few countries at a time. With Canada, Australia and South Korea now on the map, it looks like we’re getting closer to a release in some of the bigger markets like the US and the UK.

Minecraft Earth is Microsoft’s response to the mobile AR craze that started with Pokemon Go. You’ll have to get out of the house and explore the real world and use AR to build structures and complete “adventure” events set in the Minecraft universe. You can also collect materials, craft items and smelt resources just like you can in the original version of Minecraft, but not without a few changes to adapt it to the AR-based mobile platform.

I’ve been jumping into Minecraft Earth here and there since the Australian release last week, and it’s definitely an interesting spin on existing AR-based mobile games like PoGo or Wizards Unite. You can expect a first impressions piece, and other Minecraft Earth content, coming soon.

Have you been able to dive into Minecraft Earth already, or are you still waiting for the game to release in your country? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Minecraft Earth Launches In More Countries, Now Available In Canada, South Korea, Philippines appeared first on UploadVR.

Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival Focus on Spaces to Showcase VR Films

When VRFocus was in South Korea, they managed to visit the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival which took place from the 11-21st of July 2018. Nina Salomons sat down with Jongmin Kim the curator of the Bifan VR village. He discussed the VR cinema scene in South Korea, how he’s trying to stimulate competition and inspire filmmakers to make virtual reality (VR) films. This year’s focus was on South Korea’s first VR cinema where visitors could either watch the film on a 2D conventional screen or put on a Samsung Odyssey headset and watch a series of films together.


Q: Tell me who you are and what you do here.

A: Hello my name is Jongmin Kim and I curate the VR village in Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival.

Q: Is this the first year that VR is at the film festival?

A: No, this is our third year. We started two years ago and started to curate the VR village then.

Q:  Are there any South Korean VR 360 films that are premiering at the VR village?

A: Yes.

Q: How many?

A: This year twenty-six Korean films are being shown at the VR village with only two or three of them not premiering at this festival.

Q: Wow, that’s amazing. Congratulations. What’s the general response from the film goers and the public who experience VR?

A: First of all there are many people who are interested in this new medium of virtual reality. Even some people who are interested in traditional filmmaking find this interesting. VR is a medium that puts emphasis on experiences and after experiencing VR, many people start to become interested in it. They come up with some new ideas and unique concepts.

Q: How do you decide to curate your VR films? Do you go to other film festivals to then showcase them here?

A: Currently I am only working in Busan and the reason why I started it was because the Busan International Film Festival has some links with VR, as it’s a fantastical film festival. This kind of film festival has an interest in new kind of meda like VR.

Q: With regards to curation, Venice, SXSW or Sundance do you bring them here if you see they’re successful?

A: Yes.

Q: Are there any specific headsets that you are putting into the VR village? Do you have partnerships with HMD manufacturers?

A: So I think it’s not just content that’s leading the innovation in VR. I also think that the headsets play a huge part in it. Every year I try to invite new types of VR headsets to the VR village. This year we had the Odyssey headset provided by Samsung. Even though there are leading VR headsets like Oculus vive and HTC Vive, I think new technology and new VR headsets can stimulate the competition which will boost this industry overall. So that’s why I try to invite companies to showcase their new technology and VR headsets.

In the VR Theatre you can choose to watch the film with or without a VR headset.

Q: Is there an app where people can click the VR village and watch all the content online? Is there online curation of VR films?

A: One of the reasons we can’t do online curation is because there is no online platform for VR right now in Korea. This year several telephone companies are creating online VR platforms and I expect by the end of this year that there will be a way to curate VR online.

Q: I saw some children putting on some VR headsets, also some grandparents which I thought was fantastic – I usually never see that. Are there age restrictions or safety concerns when there are people of different ages experiencing potentially quite intense content like horror films for example?

A: Eventhough VR is designed for horror and thriller, our film festival isn’t a genre film festival. It’s family friendly. I tried to invite films which can be watched by the whole family, so we are now separating the content according to age restrictions with some focusing on education or documentary content for children. I wondered how the future generation would react to this new media, so I tried to bring some educational content for them to experience.

Q: Is all of this content 360 films or also interactive animation in VR experiences as well?

A: There are many types of content being developed this year, but our main focus this year was on the VR theatre. This is because this year many VR theatres will be opening, so I wanted to put an emphasis on the VR theatre. I did however still invite some interactive content here.

Q: A lot of festivals that have a VR section, also have awards. Like ‘best interactive experience’, is this something you’re looking into as well?

A: We aren’t considering adding a competition, because in Korea VR is focused on gaming and not cinema. So we think we need some infrastructure and people should be introduced to VR cinema more before we can introduce competition. We also hope that filmmakers will be inspired by the VR cinema here, and then they can make their own VR films. Overall I think the infrastructure should be made first and more people should get used to VR cinema before we can introduce any competitions. So we are waiting for the producers and creators in Korea to become more active and make VR content before we start competitions.

Q: We go to a lot of festivals and see a lot of films. Are there criteria that have to be met in order to be shown or accepted?

A: There are no clear criteria, I just go around the world for one year and if I see a film which is inspiring in my personal opinion, then I choose it. It’s a rather personal process right now because there is no competition so there can’t be strict or clear criteria for the curation.

Q: With foreign films coming in, is language a big problem or barrier when it comes to watching films and experiences?

A: Yes language can be a barrier because we don’t add subtitles to the VR films. We think VR is different from 2D cinema so if we put subtitles it can break the concentration and ruin the media’s essence in terms of VR. So since we think it’s different from conventional cinema we still have to think of a way to break the language barrier.


Q: Are there anymore extravagant plans for next year?

A: This year we focus on people’s experience of this area. So we focused on how people can actually experience the space. This year we weren’t  one hundred percent successful. So next year we will focus on the experience itself regarding the space and place. We think people shouldn’t just wear a VR headset, but also experience the whole thing when they step into the VR village itself. So for example this year was very hot, so we’re thinking of creating a huge plastic igloo where it’s very cool inside and adding a machine to make artificial snow inside so when people step into it they feel like winter and are experiencing the space.

Unlike traditional films we think VR is not very suitable for building stories or characters, but is more useful to build a different space and time. That’s why we’re focusing more on the building of the space and let them experience space rather than focusing on the stories.

Q: For next year it’s going to be in the same space with an igloo? Or are you guys going to move the VR village somewhere else?

A: So we’re still in the planning stages of this, and have to speak to the administration to solve problems like funding. It’s not confirmed yet.

Q: Is there a website that people can go to in order to find out more about the VR village and the film festival?

A: So we do have a website, and because there are restrictions for some people who cannot make it to the film festival in person we are actually planning a roadshow to different cities in Korea to show VR. If it’s confirmed it will all be on the website.

Q: If there’s a filmmaker out there who wants to enter their film and send it to you, how do they contact you?

A: Early next year there will be an option on the website for submissions, there is no personal way to contact myself.

To find out more about VR films keep reading VRFocus.

Intel to Bring 2018 Olympic Winter Games Experience to Windows Mixed Reality

Announced during the main press briefing at Microsoft’s event held in San Francisco, Intel will be bringing a ‘Windows Mixed Reality experience’ for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. This forms part of a multi-year technology partnership between Intel and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Originally announced in June, Intel’s partnership with the IOC as part of the Worldwide TOP (The Olympic Partner) program is set to bring many technologies to every Olympic Games through 2024, including broadcast support, 5G communication, drone light shows and True VR coverage.

Intel’s True VR technology is a form of stereoscopic video capture, optimised for live broadcasting and already successfully used in sports coverage. According to this report from Digital Trends, Intel plans to broadcast “16 events live and offer another 16 on demand” during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games using the technology.

It seems likely that the ‘Windows Mixed Reality experience’ announced today will form part of this True VR coverage of the Games, but the final list of supported VR platforms is yet to be determined.

The post Intel to Bring 2018 Olympic Winter Games Experience to Windows Mixed Reality appeared first on Road to VR.

South Korea to get Virtual Shopping Mall

The creation of the internet changed the way that commerce worked forever. Some companies rode the wave to make millions, such as Amazon, others failed to adapt to the changing times and feel by the wayside. Several companies in Korea has recently agreed to participate in the creation of a virtual reality (VR) shopping mall in an attempt to be at the forefront of the rise of VR in commerce.

The VR Shopping Mall will open to consumers for the first time during the Korea Sales Festa at the end of September, 2017. Companies that have agreed to participate in the VR Shopping Mall include well-known Korean names such as Hyundai Department Store, E-Mart, LG Electronics and Lotte Department Store.

The South Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy announced that the ministry held a business agreement ceremony for the creation of the virtual shopping mall on the 24th Jul, 2017. The companies involved in the project have agrees to offer discounts to customers of the VR shopping mall. It isn’t just big businesses that are involved with the VR shopping mall, however. Traditional markets such as the Dongdaemun and Jagalchi Markets are also getting involves, allowing shoppers to experience a more diverse product range.

The creators of the VR Shopping Mall are claiming that there has never before been such a project involving such a diverse range of industry participations. Korea’s businesses are hoping that this milestone will pave the way for further developments for South Korean industry as a whole.

The VR Shopping Mall will officially open during Korea Sail Fest, which lasts from 28th September to 31st October, 2017.

VRFocus will continue to report on new regarding VR Shopping Mall and other industry VR projects.