According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) today, the government of South Korea’s capital city could be trying to ban the service in favor of developing its own alternative, which would direct passengers to licensed operators and provider additional details about the drivers. Additionally, the local authorities have stated that Uber is illegal under South Korean law on the basis that unregistered private or rented vehicles can’t be used for fee-paying taxi services, the report said. The alternative app is set to launch sometime in December. We’ve asked Uber for a statement on the issue and will update accordingly.
Uber is no stranger to controversy and suggestions that its business model carefully dances at the edge of regulations. Indeed, its presence in several cities has sent authorities and established players into a bit of a spin. Last month in London, black-cab drivers organized a mass protest at the perceived preferential treatment of Uber by TfL (Transport for London), which ultimately deemed Uber to be operating within the rules. Still, the controversy doesn’t seem to be hurting the service overall.
Update: An Uber spokesperson responded to our request for comment:
Today, the statement issued by the Seoul city’ Taxi & Logistics Division to attack Uber (a Silicon Valley startup that has innovated transportation in over 150 cities and 41 countries around the world), shows how out of touch the department is with the ‘smart city’ movement. While other global leaders, including London, Washington D.C., Singapore and Shanghai have embraced forward thinking technologies and their role in improving consumer services, comments like these show Seoul is in danger of remaining trapped in the past and getting left behind by the global ‘sharing economy’ movement.
It added that its drivers all comply with safety and professional requirements in the city and that “the statement released today by the Seoul city’s Taxi & Logistics Division contained a number of incorrect statements about how Uber works”.
➤ Seoul Moves to Ban Uber, Plans Own App [The Wall Street Journal]