SEOUL: South Korea’s entertainment and business fields have seen the emergence of beautiful, multi-talented young women who can do almost anything, from acting to designing fashion.
Although they are in their early twenties, they display impeccable skills and give performances that exceed human expectations.
They have no stress, no sleep and no scandals. Although they are labeled as perfect human beings, they have their own limitations. They are not real people, but virtual humans produced by cutting-edge computer graphics that only exist in the virtual world.
Meet Rozy, a 22-year-old woman who is 171 centimeters tall. She has become one of the most popular virtual humans so far here. With over 125,000 followers on Instagram, she received a verified badge from the social media platform.
The badge signifies that Instagram has confirmed that an account is a genuine account directly managed by the public figure, celebrity or brand. She also shook up the marketing landscape here when she caused a stir in a video ad for local life insurance company ShinhanLife last year.
The ever-aging Rozy’s market value has skyrocketed since then, modeling for companies in a wide range of industries including automotive, cosmetics and fashion.
She is estimated to have earned more than 1.5 billion won (RM5mil) last year. She also made her singing debut, releasing her debut single Who Am I last month.
In the virtual world, Rozy has peers of her kind, though she has no personal interaction with them.
Last week, Netmarble’s virtual human Rina signed a deal with local entertainment agency Sublime, which manages actor Song Kang-ho and singer Rain. According to Netmarble, Rina will later appear in the company’s games and various pieces of content related to the Metaverse.
Han Yoo-ah, a virtual character originally developed by Smilegate for its virtual reality game Focus on You, recently signed a contract with YG KPlus, YG Entertainment’s modeling agency. Han is expected to debut as a singer with CJ ENM in the first half of this year.
The LG group has created two virtual characters: Reah Keem and Tilda. Keem first met the public at the Consumer Electronics Show via a music video in January last year.
She is expected to release her debut album later this year. Tilda, a virtual artificial intelligence (AI) fashion designer, presented her 200 outfits at New York Fashion Week last month after studying some 3,000 images and patterns to design them.
While some virtual humans started pursuing careers in music after making their names known on social media platforms, other computer-created humans started as singers right from birth.
In March 2021, local AI developer Pulse9 created the 11-member virtual K-pop girl group Eternity using deep, real-world AI technology. The group’s first music video on their official YouTube channel has garnered over 1.1 million views since it was uploaded in March last year.
According to Pulse9, Eternity member Jaein will be a supporting actress in a four-part web comedy series that will be released in April.
Lucy of Lotte Home Shopping made her debut as the host of the company’s TV show in December. She only made a brief appearance presenting what will be the next product on sale. The company said it will be making advances in technology so Lucy can play the role of full-time host this year.
The tricky part for virtual humans in Korea is that they’re all young women.
Lee Eun-soo, an assistant professor at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, said it was because of the business goals of companies seeking to get the most out of humans. invented.
“It’s a reflection of the real world,” Lee said, referring to the phenomenon of women dominating influencer marketing on social media platforms.
According to Lee Kyung-jae, a professor in the Department of Artificial Intelligence at Chung-Ang University, the dominance of virtual women for commercial purposes is related to customers’ familiarity with female human models, with which customers believe that it is easy to create intimacy.
“I think it’s because setting up virtual humans as young women allows (companies) to use them to promote products whose primary consumers are women,” he said. “They are also easier to create intimacy and sympathy.”
Beyond the question of gender, the rise of virtual humans in general is part of the desire to better understand each other.
“We humans have always had an innate desire to explore and apprehend our own being. That is, what it means to be human. By creating beings that reflect human characteristics – clones in genetics , humanoid robots in robotics – we in turn can develop an understanding of ourselves,” Lee said.
“Virtual humans reflect a similar desire. They are basically the software version of clones and robots. With the pandemic pushing people even more to stay connected online, the trend (of virtual humans) has only accelerated. —The Korea Herald/ANN