It seems South Korea is set on becoming a metaversal superpower. The East Asian nation’s government is now investing 223.7 billion KRW (about US$187 million) into a broad new metaverse platform.

South Korea’s Ministry of ICT, Science, and Future Planning has made the financial pledge to develop the project, titled the “Expanded Virtual World”.

The government agency wrote a statement on Sunday that confirmed the plans, citing the objective of supporting the growth of digital content and corporate growth within the country, including a focus on education and media.

Head of communication at the ministry, Park Yungyu, said the metaverse-platform initiative is part of South Korea’s broader “Digital New Deal”, which has committed US$2.2 billion into blockchain-related tech over the next few years.

“It is important to create a world-class metaverse ecosystem as the starting point to intensively foster a new hyper-connected industry,” said Yungyu.

The ministry added that it will be hosting various community-driven events including a metaverse developer contest and a hackathon. And in January, it also revealed plans to make South Korea the fifth-largest metaverse market globally by developing 220 metaverse firms and 40,000 industry experts by 2026.

Earlier this month, South Korea’s US$200 billion sovereign wealth fund outlined plans to increase its exposure to the metaverse, AI and alternative assets and boost its investments in Silicon Valley startups.

Meanwhile, the country’s largest mobile gaming company, Netmarble, has said it’s already building out metaverse-based games  following the creation of its new development arm – Metaverse Entertainment – in August. It’s all part of a company-wide (and seemingly nationwide) pivot further and deeper into the virtual world.


Japan’s Rakuten launching NFT marketplace

Tokyo-based e-commerce and online retail giant Rakuten Group has announced the launch of a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace called Rakuten NFT.

It’s a move that backs up predictions Japan is set to become one of the world’s biggest adopters of NFTs.

The announcement notes that the marketplace will aim to quickly expand with new features, and then a peer-to-peer service for minting and selling NFT content is planned for 2023.

The platform is aiming to enable IP holders to build their own website for issuing and selling NFTs through a function called “Rakuten ID”.

“Rakuten NFT is a service that provides a marketplace for users to purchase NFTs, as well as peer-to-peer buying and selling of NFTs, in a range of areas such as sports and entertainment, including music and anime,” reads the Rakuten announcement.

One of the major brands Rakuten NFT reportedly plans to produce and market NFT content for is the J.League – Japan’s professional football league.