Korea gives a $7.5bn nod to the metaverse and AI projects

Move over K-pop, the K-metaverse is coming

South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT (MIST) has earmarked ₩9 trillion ($7.5bn/ £5.55bn) for projects including AI and the development of a K-metaverse as part of its Digital New Deal programme.

"The Digital New Deal is a pan-ministry National Innovation Project that seeks to overcome the COVID-19 economic crisis through digitalization across the economy and society," said MIST in a statement.

The New Deal was announced in July 2021 and includes $48.5bn to be spent on network infrastructure, AI development, and other technologies by 2025. The programme is expected to generate 900,000 jobs.

Of the earmarked $7.5bn, a hefty 20 per cent will go to projects the government refers to as "social overhead capital," which includes eventually implementing self-driving technology into 67 per cent of national roads so that they continuously exchange data with the vehicles as they drive themselves.

Roughly 65 per cent will go to data networks and AI projects like autonomous cars. Development of digital services, like home-based schooling and online medical appointments, will get 5.6 per cent. Almost 9 per cent will go to fostering the metaverse and cloud services.

In February, ₩34 billion ($28.4m) will go to developing a Korean-styled metaverse platform with cultural content that no doubt will capitalise on the global phenomenon of exported Korean entertainment. The government is also behind some of the K-metaverse content, spending ₩16.8 billion of the budget to produce it.

Plans for the K-metaverse were revealed last week.  The government will foster 220 firms that already pull in decent sales volumes (₩5bn, $4.2m) and also create a metaverse academy of 40,000 industry experts by 2026.

Additionally, there will also be programmes for startups wanting to break into the technology and a metaverse Korean language institute to demonstrate the nation's art and culture to foreigners and tourists. ®

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