K-Music to the World: How to Enjoy Korea Through Virtual ‘K-Vibe Festa’

For the past two years, lockdowns and travel bans have resulted in it being almost impossible to visit other countries. As the world resets and the global COVID-19 pandemic recedes, tourism is tentatively returning to some regions, but if you’re not yet ready to hop on a plane to South Korea, that’s all right, because with the K-VIBE FESTA, South Korea can come to you, virtually.

A multi-element experience that is built on the increasingly popular idea of a metaverse, the Korea Tourism Organization’s K-VIBE FESTA campaign is themed around the idea of “Come Play With Korea” and features a variety of different experiences for people to engage with in digital realms.

The overall theme of the K-VIBE FESTA is for international fans to explore and enjoy all that South Korean pop culture and traditional culture have to offer, through all the “hip,” “cool” and “inspirational” facets of local culture and entertainment.

Virtual reality and extended reality (XR) experiences enable “tourists” to do a variety of different things, through a different set of platforms.

The K-travelog, for instance, launched on Nov. 16, and enables people to travel around the country, with a special focus on the popular heritage destination Gyeongju, via a 3-D avatar using the Zepeto platform, dubbed the K-VIBE FESTA x ZEPETO collab.

The most popular attraction for music lovers is undoubtedly the XR K-Vibe Concert, which will be held on Dec. 8, and viewable via YouTube. A 90-minute concert, it’ll feature a variety of K-pop and other South Korean artists performing their hits for audiences around the world.

BoA, Key of SHINee, Aespa, Brave Girls, Mommy Son and Wonstein are all set to perform, while special guests include Lachica, a dance team that rose to popularity during this year’s hit series Street Woman Fighter, and Anupam Tripathi, who rose to fame through his role as Ali in Squid Game.

Music has taken a special focus of the KTO’s attempt to show the world Korea digitally when tourists can’t visit, and the K-Vibe Concert follows the “Feel the Rhythm of Korea” travel series shared by the Imagine Your Korea account on YouTube over the past two years.

Featuring the likes of alt pansori-pop group Leenalchi showcasing Seoul, and hip-hop artists roaming through Daegu, folk music and traditional heritages are shown off while blending with the most modern of pop culture sensibilities. The Feel the Rhythm of Korea films lean into a trend popularized by many K-pop acts, including BTS, VIXX and Stray Kids, as they incorporate Korean cultural heritage into their music and performances.

All of these different events are connected through the KTO’s attempt at building a metaverse, or integrated digital spaces, all related through the K-VIBE FESTA’s themes.

“The metaverse is a new ecosystem that can break down national borders and make everyone’s dreams and experiences come true,” says Choongsub Oh, the director of the brand marketing team at the KTO. “Through this metaverse campaign, we will be able to provide people around the world with opportunities to be immersed in new Korea travel experiences and dreams of visiting Korea. It also gives an opportunity for the nation to show leadership in the metaverse market.”

–By Tamar Herman

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