Seoul launches virtual pet service through metaverse world

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : May 2, 2023, 16:49 Updated : May 3, 2023, 02:14

[Courtesy of Seoul City]

SEOUL -- Seoul has created a metaverse world where users can adopt pets and raise them in the virtual space. Using an avatar, anyone can choose one animal among 10 different kinds including a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and a lizard. Users can receive points after completing training missions and purchase various items such as headbands and shoes.
Metaverse enables humans to engage in different social, cultural, and economic activities in simulated virtual spaces. The virtual world, which uses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), is favored by many young people who like to express their unique identities through personalized characters. In January 2023, the capital city released "Metaverse Seoul," a virtual world in which avatar workers deal with civic complaints and provide virtual tourism experiences.
Seoul Digital Foundation (SDF), operated by the capital city, said in a statement that a pet service called "Meta Seoul Pet" was launched on Metaverse Seoul. Only one animal can be adopted for each account and pet owners are not allowed to abandon their animals. Prior to the adoption, users are required to submit an application for adoption in virtual reality. The platform will provide missions such as training a pet to jump over an obstacle.  
"Please stay tuned. We will showcase various contents and events to offer Metaverse Seoul where Seoulites can create and enjoy together with the municipal city," the digital foundation's president Kang Yo-sik said in a statement on May 2. The foundation said vouchers will be given to selected users who upload their virtual pets on social media until June 2.
Data released by South Korea's rural affairs ministry showed that about one out of four South Koreans raised a pet as of 2022. Many remote-working single households spent more time at home with their pets when the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country in 2020. The pet industry valued at 1.9 trillion won ($1.4 billion) in 2015 is projected to reach six trillion won in 2027.
Different pet-related businesses have launched a one-stop pet care store where pet owners can enjoy different facilities with their pets including a pet beauty salon, a pet academy, and a pet hotel. Thanks to the growing number of pet owners, the domestic pet veterinary market is also gaining momentum. The domestic animal drug market in 2021 reached 1.3 trillion won, up 10 percent from a year ago. 
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