|The Israel-Korea Metaverse, a virtual version of the Embassy of Israel in Korea, has an olive tree on its first floor. Courtesy of Embassy of Israel in Korea|
By Kwon Mee-yoo
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.
According to the embassy, there is no other embassy metaverse with this level of functionality existing anywhere in the world at this time. 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.
"The more I think about the potentialities of this breakthrough platform and how it can grow, the more exciting it seems... We'll create new avenues of interaction for people at far distances, like Israelis and Koreans at the opposite ends of Asia."
|Ambassador of Israel to Korea Akiva Tor speaks during the Israel-Korea Metaverse launching event at RYSE, Autograph Collection in Seoul, Sept. 20 Courtesy of Embassy of Israel in Korea|
The pavilion's exterior is inspired by the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Upon entering the pavilion, the German-born Jewish theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, welcomes visitors and gives a brief introduction of the pavilion. Einstein is voiced by Michael Reiffenstuel, the German ambassador to Korea.
On the first floor is a gallery introducing the 60-year history of Korea-Israel relations with an olive tree in the center, bringing Israel's national tree to the virtual world.
The virtual space is open for various events and activities, including the MC2 lounge on the second floor, and the ambassador hopes more people will visit and use the pavilion.
"Our challenge as an embassy will be to make this innovative functionality popular in Korea and in Israel, for the people young at heart and open to a new experience of engagement," Tor 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 embassy plans to continuously update the Israel-Korea Metaverse.
The Israel-Korea Metaverse can be downloaded at Google Play Store and Apple App Store.