The Metaverse Museum.
“I’m quite sure this is the way forward… I think the embassy metaverse will become the essential standard just as websites became the essential standard about 20 years ago.”
The metaverse is a digital world that computers and smartphones can access on the internet, where users can interact with other users in a virtual environment. While initially seen as an entertainment tool, the metaverse is now becoming a tool of public diplomacy. According to the excerpted article from the oldest English-language daily in South Korea, The Korea Times, the Embassy of Israel became the first diplomatic mission in South Korea to gain a presence in the metaverse and one of the first embassies in the metaverse globally.[i] This likely represents the way forward for digital diplomacy, but it also carries the risk of becoming the next domain for cyber warfare to include security and privacy breaches, hacks, identity theft, ransomware, and deepfake videos.
The Korea Times article also reports that the Israel-Korea Metaverse is available for download via the Google Play and Apple App Stores. It was launched to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Israel and South Korea and provides a virtual reality immersive experience that offers information about Israel and promotes exchanges between the two countries. As the passage reports, the Israeli Ambassador to South Korea said during the opening in Seoul that this is the “way forward” and that the “embassy metaverse” will become mainstream just as websites became mainstream 20 years ago. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website notes that the project comes amid flourishing relations between the two countries. This includes a recently ratified free trade agreement, expanded defense cooperation, arms trade, and rising cooperation in the health sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Israeli embassy opens in metaverse,” The Korea Times (the oldest English-language daily newspaper in South Korea), 27 September 2022. https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2022/09/120_336705.html
The Embassy of Israel in Korea opened in the metaverse, becoming the first diplomatic mission in the country to gain a presence in the virtual world.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Korea and Israel, the Israeli Embassy opened a pavilion in the metaverse to offer information about Israel and promote exchanges between the two countries.
“The Israel-Korea Metaverse is a truly unique platform for sharing a virtual reality immersive experience, the history of Israel-Korea relations and also for carrying out all kinds of interesting interactions between Israelis and Koreans. Even though they are 8,000 kilometers apart, yet in the metaverse, they are right next to each other,” Israeli ambassador to Korea Akiva Tor said during a launching event at a hotel in Seoul, Sept. 20… The embassy developed this with a Korean company called Vrillar.
“I’m quite sure that this is the way forward. It won’t be the only tool of public diplomacy and, of course, we will always want to bring real people to Korea and to hold in-person conferences and in-person cultural performances. But I think the embassy metaverse will become the essential standard just as websites became the essential standard about 20 years ago and SNS channels are now,” the ambassador said.
“I’m thinking of a metaverse with Hebrew and Korean language clubs, an Israel Film Festival, virtual meetings of the student clubs of Israel and Korea, a hangout for lovers of K-pop and the Hebrew Bible, a place for talk and debate about archaeology and the future of autonomous vehicles.”… The Israel-Korea Metaverse can be downloaded at Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
“Israel MFA initiates first diplomatic mission on Metaverse platform,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 26 October 2022. https://www.gov.il/en/departments/news/first-diplomatic-mission-on-the-metaverse-platform
The current project initiated by the Israeli mission in South Korea comes on the background of flourishing relations between the countries. It is expected that Korean Air will renew direct flights between Israel and Korea at the end of the year; The new recently ratified trade agreement between the two countries—the first of its kind for Israel in Asia and the first for South Korea in the Middle East—will benefit the Israeli consumer.
[i] Other political presence in the metaverse include the metaverse office of the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UAE’s Ministry of Economy. In October 2022, INTERPOL became the world’s first law enforcement metaverse platform, allowing visitors to virtually tour its General Secretariat headquarters in France. Barbados has also recently announced plans to launch an embassy in the metaverse.
Image: The Metaverse Museum.
Attribution: CC BY-SA 4.0