How K-pop drives the future in Metaverse

A concert hall is a place vulnerable to infectious diseases such as coronavirus. During the time of the pandemic, a seat always alternated with a blocked seat, and cheering and singing along were not allowed. Concert halls in South Korea that managed to reopen after a while, made an announcement before each performance: “Please applaud instead of cheer.”

Metaverse has become an alternative where the audience gathers and enjoys performances together. Especially K-pop has been actively expanding its stage into Metaverse by collaborating with the technology sector. Existing fans were drawn to this virtual world on a large scale, which turned to be a signal of the contribution of K-pop to the popularization of Metaverse.

BLACKPINK, for instance, held a fan signing event on Zepeto - a Korean Metaverse Platform boasting 250 million global users - and more than 46 million fans across the globe participated. Moreover, a music video for Ice Cream by BLACKPINK, featuring Zepeto avatars, reached 120 million views on Youtube. It verified not only the power of K-pop drawing the public’s attention to Metaverse, but also the potentiality of it as a means to produce secondary intellectual property for the artists.

In addition to the entertainment sector, Korea's three major telecommunication companies, leading the era of 5G in South Korea, are also actively engaged as the stable and fast internet connection is vital for Metaverse. SKT, for instance, is proceeding with the "K-Pop Metaverse Project" using mixed reality(MR) technology and plans to produce Metaverse-based music videos and concerts. Korean game developers such as NCsoft also introduced advanced visual and aural technologies including AI voice synthesis, motion capture, and face capture into the creation of K-pop content.

Some factors are boosting K-pop’s transition to Metaverse. Since the emergence of the boy band EXO, a lot of K-pop groups have been created based on the “worldview", which was a concept mainly used in movies and games like "Marvel Universe" and "Star Wars Worldview." A band creates its own imaginary world, develops original stories and expands its world through communication with consumers who actively accept it. It has become an element that accelerates K-pop to fit in Metaverse successfully.

Furthermore, users can expect profit-making by becoming a creator. The distinct fandom culture of K-pop is that fans voluntarily produce and sell mugs, photo cards, clothes, etc with artist-related images on them. This custom can be continued in Metaverse as their digital product will be protected as NFT(Non-fungible token). In Zepeto, for instance, more than 80% of items have been created by users. The cumulative number of creators exceeds 60,000, and creators who earn more than 3 million won a month are also emerging.

In June last year, AESPA, a K-pop girl group, released the "brain-blasting futuristic” video clip for their new single Next Level, which showed a glimpse of an entertainment world of avatars, robots and metaverse activities. The video, a result of the contribution of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), went viral and was clicked more than 100 million times within 32 days. Musikexpress, a German magazine that published an article analyzing the noteworthy collaboration of K-pop and technology stated that “the Next Level can definitely be understood as an announcement.”


Guest author

Chanmi Park from South Korea

Contributions by external authors do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editors.

January 2022