S. Korea recreates N. Korean cities in metaverse world to encourage reunification

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : September 22, 2023, 13:41 Updated : December 13, 2023, 03:45
Courtesy of the Ministry of Unification
[Courtesy of the Ministry of Unification]
SEOUL -- South Korea's unification ministry has created a virtual world where users can explore the hometowns of Koreans who fled from the northern area of the Korean Peninsula to the southern parts during the Korean War (1950~1953). The virtual platform, designed to raise awareness about the reunification of Korea, recreated North Korean cities including Pyongyang on Roblox, a metaverse platform mainly used by young people.
Millions of people were displaced by the sweep of the Korean conflict, which ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically at war. Direct cross-border exchanges of letters or telephone calls are banned. Since the inter-Korean summit in 2000, family reunions had been held every year, but they came to a halt in March 2010 due to military tensions when Seoul blamed a North Korean submarine for sinking the Cheonan warship.
The last family reunion event was held in 2018, after a historical summit between S. Korea's ex-President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the truce village of Panmunjom. Government data showed there are 40,408 South Koreans who had families in the North as of August 2023.
Various attractions in three North Korean cities -- Pyongyang, the northeastern port city of Hamhung, and the western port city of Nampo, were recreated on Roblox, the Ministry of Unification said. The metaverse platform, created based on the memories of three South Koreans with families in the North, will be available starting on September 27. In the virtual world, anyone can walk across the Taedong River, which flows through Pyongyang. 
"We hope the younger generations will learn more about issues on the Korean Peninsula such as reunification and separated families through metaverse," the ministry said in a statement. Roblox is an online game platform where anyone can create games and enable other users to enjoy their content. As of October 2022, the platform had more than 50 million daily users and 12 million creators. 
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