As a Fulbright grantee, I spent allotment of the aftermost year researching the administration abridgement in Seoul. One of my basic findings? Korea absolutely has two.
The aboriginal is small-scale, aggressive bounded and left-wing in flavor. This aboriginal “sharing Seoul” is abundantly accurate by the Seoul Burghal government, and consists of a scattering of amusing entrepreneurs abundantly animate through ShareHub, an bulge of the Korean affiliate of Artistic Commons.
The additional is the arctic adverse of the first, and encompasses Airbnb and Uber, the enormous, bunch corporations that abide those best associated with the appellation “sharing economy” worldwide.
However, in Korea, and additionally about the world, it is added axiomatic that to board this closing class of companies beneath the administration characterization is a mistake.
Four years afterwards TIME annual alleged “Sharing” as one of its “10 Ideas That Will Change the World,” and as companies like Uber become added politicized about the world, it’s time to check the “sharing economy.” Indeed, we may be able to accumulate some accepted insights from the absorbing bond advance in Korea.
As we use it today, the appellation “sharing economy” encompasses a ample ambit of activities, from renting to bartering to gifting. At its best basal definition, the appellation refers to back animal and concrete assets are aggregate amid individuals, about with the advice of an online belvedere or marketplace.
As a political ideal, the administration abridgement is a amusing archetypal in which appurtenances and casework are broadcast anon amid consumers through peer-to-peer interactions. Environmentalists accept alike looked into the administration abridgement as a way to abate carbon aisle while allowing bread-and-er growth.
Shareable, accession online community, describes a “sharing transformation” that includes “maker movement, collaborative consumption, the adherence economy, attainable antecedent software, alteration towns, attainable government, and amusing enterprise.”
When administration replaces new consumption, there has consistently been the abeyant to barrier costs and abate waste. In the archetypal example, instead of affairs a new toolbox back I charge to use a hammer, I borrow one from my neighbor. I’ll alternate this amicableness at some time in the future; conceivably she’ll charge my garden corrupt aing week.
With the appearance of the Internet and near-instant interconnection, it becomes abundant easier to bout these haves and needs as they action in absolute time, creating the abeyant for digitally powered administration services. “Anyone accept a hammer?” I column to my adjacency Facebook page. “Be appropriate over,” responds my neighbor.
The abstraction of administration took off in the backward 2000s, conceivably as a amusing and political acknowledgment adjoin the hyper-capitalism of the DOT COM era — a agenda rebranding of old left-wing and accelerating ideals, if you will. Companies like Zipcar were founded; Amazon started distributing babyish tasks to an Internet workforce through Mechanical Turk.
However, the appellation “sharing economy” has consistently been a little problematic: As Giana M. Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi agenda in the Harvard Business Review, accurate administration is a amusing alternation that involves no affairs or profits, like books at a attainable library.
For this reason, abounding of the accurate believers in the administration movement accept absolutely alone the term, abundantly in favor of the appellation “collaborative consumption.” For the blow of this article, this is the appellation I try will use to alarm this movement based on peer-to-peer sharing.
According to the alignment OuiShare, borrowing heavily from the assignment of administration advocate Rachel Botsman (who runs the eponymous web aperture “Collaborative Consumption”), “the collaborative abridgement is accurate as initiatives based on accumbent networks and accord of a community” and is congenital on “distributed ability and assurance aural communities as against to centralized institutions.” In collaborative consumption, “the curve amid ambassador and consumer” are blurred.
Truly, the admeasurement and absorption in these behaviors and casework has been remarkable. A contempo abstraction by PwC speculates that this new breadth may abound to $335 billion in all-around revenues by 2025.
Individuals like Ms. Botsman, the columnist of What’s Mine Is Yours, a administration manifesto, April Rinne, a Harvard-trained advocate and Arun Sundararajan, a NYU professor, accept fabricated absolute careers advising companies and governments — including Seoul’s — with attention to the collaborative economy.
Image: Shutterstock/Guitar photographer
Seoul is absolutely an aboriginal adopter back it comes to the sharing/collaborative economy. Although abundant of the columnist insinuates the administration abridgement initiatives accept been borne out of startups, Korean collaborative burning efforts absolutely predate the accepted startup boom.
Seeded in 2012 by above animal rights advocate and Seoul Burghal Mayor Park Won-soon, the “Sharing Seoul initiative” approved to doctor the assorted ills of avant-garde association by announcement this kinder, gentler anatomy of capitalism.
South Korea’s transformation from a tiny, destitute, war-ravaged country to a bright bread-and-er and cultural crammer is annihilation abbreviate of extraordinary. In the 65 years afterward the Korean War, South Korea has bootstrapped itself to become a affluent all-around technology baton with an enviable bendable ability grip, agitated by the bouncing moves of K-Pop idols to the far corners of Asia and beyond. In the U.S., Korean aliment has alike become big amid acute Brooklyn hipsters.
South Korea is the alone country to alteration from USAID (U.S. Agency for All-embracing Development) almsman to donor, replacing unpaved anchorage and amphitheater latrines with high-tech basement that about seems broken from a absurd architectural rendering.
Of course, this adamant drive to self-ameliorate has appear at a cost. South Korea is currently experiencing ascent inequality, and a abatement in the amusing abundance arrangement that has disproportionately impacted the elderly. Birth ante are additionally declining, as educational and animate costs skyrocket.
Thousands of austere out adolescence advance through the meat grinder that is the South Korean educational system, and 80 hour, six-day assignment weeks are the barometer for South Korean workers. Korea additionally has some of the accomplished ante of booze burning and suicide in the OECD (Organisation for Bread-and-er ).
The antagonism for amplitude is real, too. Nearly 50 percent of the absolute citizenry is centered in the Seoul burghal area, and at 16,700 bodies per aboveboard kilometer, or eight times the anatomy of New York, Seoul has one of the accomplished burghal citizenry densities in the world. But this absurd anatomy doesn’t aloof stop at humans; it applies to their actuality as well.
Korea is home to “some of the best crazily apparent consumption,” says Albert Hahn, co-founder of the craigslist-like startup HelloMarket. “In Seoul, you see bodies animate for $3 an hour, appropriate aing to accession sitting in a Maserati. And it’s not like Seoul is a burghal you can absolutely drive in,” he added.
Pierre Joo, a Parisian who runs the Korean appointment of the French consulting close Attali & Associés, agrees, abacus that he has started to see a “realization by Korean consumers that their bread-and-er model, aggressive capitalism, is not sustainable.”
New arrivals to the burghal bound acclimatize to the aeriform ante of business turnover. In assertive neighborhoods, absolute barrio are razed and new ones erected acutely overnight.
Even leisure is a aggressive sport. Photos of must-have items advance virally over Instagram, sending the masses on affairs sprees, afore falling off the trend wagon aloof as instantly. Disturbingly alert floor-to-ceiling advertisements in the busline stations of chichi Gangnam neighborhoods admonish riders that if you accept the money, you could alike buy a new face, if you basic to.
It’s not adamantine to see the address of the administration abridgement in Korea, as a movement that challenges the angle “that ceaseless bread-and-er advance leads to boundless prosperity; and that added actuality leads to added happiness.”
This is decidedly accurate for Korea’s blue millennials: Admitting actuality built-in at a time back they can acquire the abounding allowances of South Korea’s bread-and-er development, these contemptuous adolescence accept some of the bleakest angle against the approaching in the world.
They’ve alike appear up with a jul-im-mal (줄임말) or argot abbreviation, for themselves: oh-poh sae-dae (오포 세대), a bearing that has “given up on dating, marriage, accepting children, claimed relationships, and home buying due to the difficulties of life.”
From a absolute and cultural perspective, the accession of collaborative burning in Korea additionally makes sense. Abounding of the ethics it represents are evocative of the collectivist traditions of Korea’s not-to-distant past.
As afresh as the aboriginal 1980s, genitalia of the Gangnam commune were covered in rice paddies, and Korea’s agrarian traditions board the proto-sharing economies of gye (계), association lending circles, poomasi (품아시), non-monetary activity exchanges and du-rae, (두레) accumulation activity collectives.
Beginning in aboriginal 2013, Seoul anesthetized a cardinal of ordinances and bounded laws to facilitate the advance of administration practices, spending 286 actor KRW (about $260,000 USD) to abutment association architecture about “the administration economy” and advance in 42 administration business or organizations. At the amount of Seoul’s collaborative abridgement is an alignment alleged CC Korea.
The bounded affiliate of the all-embracing Artistic Commons organization, beneath the authorization of Mayor Park, CC Korea operates ShareHub, which serves as a ability coffer and clearinghouse for all things collaborative in Seoul. (Naturally, Jennifer Kang, who currently animate up CC Korea, is additionally a host on Airbnb.)
ShareHub has captivated workshops for adolescence and association leaders in Bulgwang, an back-number commune in northwestern Seoul, and has helped two added Korean cities, Busan and Daejon, start their own administration initiatives.
Seoul’s administration in this amplitude was accepted internationally as “a archetypal for the world,“ and resulted in a bounded bang in small-scale amusing enterprises and startups. However, two and a bisected years into the Administration Seoul program, absolute few calm casework accept managed to go mainstream.
Most of these casework can’t absolutely calibration by design: Amid Seoul’s appointed administration companies are Dreaming Acorn, a belvedere for administration babyish and maternology clothing, and Run Piano, a activity that installs acclimated pianos in attainable spaces.
None of these companies assume to about-face ample profits; one barring ability be SOCAR, a car-sharing account with a business archetypal affiliated to that of Zipcar in the United States. SOCAR afresh accustomed $18 actor dollars in allotment from Bain Capital.
In fact, a minimal- or zero-profit archetypal ability alike be a abject archetype for a accurate collaborative burning firm. Afterwards all, it does assume to bigger accumbent with the axiological spirit of sharing.
As accouchement we are taught, “sharing is caring,” a angle that seems somehow adulterated with the accession of money. I feel like a pre-school abecedary (unless she is Ayn Rand) would be abashed by an “Uber for playgrounds” scenario, in which I appeal hire from my playmates for the appropriate to ride in my Little Tyke Cozy Coupe, alike if I’m not application it myself.
Image: Yevgen Belich / Shutterstock.com
On Airbnb’s basic landing folio for travelers absorbed in visiting Seoul, white argument is superimposed over an aeriform attempt of the N-Seoul tower. “Palatial charcoal and animated pop ability bang in Seoul, a dizzyingly evolving burghal that dares you to accumulate up,” it reads.
Locals adulation “Korean barbecue and soju” and “relaxing at Jjimjilbangs,” while they accuse about “traffic,” “rising acreage prices,” and “everything alteration too quickly.”
Elsewhere on its site, Airbnb entices the ambitious traveler: “Belong here, accord anywhere.” In Korea, as in the added than 190 added countries the aggregation operates, Airbnb has styled itself as the ultimate cottage industry, a business agitated out in someone’s home.
Airbnb is the flagship of the alleged administration economy, and is the alone big close of its class to absolutely assignment in Korea. The online exchange for adaptation combines Orbitz with online dating, akin travelers with hosts and concise rentals, in accession to abstinent acquittal and advice amid the two parties.
Founded in 2008 by two Americans who started subletting their animate allowance in adjustment to accomplish hire on their San Francisco loft, it was originally marketed beneath the bulky URL “airbedandbreakfast.com.”
The aggregation has accomplished brief advance in the accomplished few years. With 550,000 listings worldwide, and added than 600 employees, Airbnb is currently admired at $25.5 billion USD. According to estimates, aftermost year Airbnb facilitated bookings for 37 actor nights.
The balmy and down-covered feel of Airbnb’s business is aloof one archetype of the arresting job they accept done affairs acceptance to Koreans athirst for abundance and connection, a association on the bend of addict afterwards decades of able development.
In Korea, Airbnb has flourished beneath Seoul’s sharing-city action initiatives. It has additionally been a hit amid urbane, catholic Seoulites. In fact, Airbnb’s abrupt success in South Korea led Seoul to be profiled forth with London and San Francisco in the countdown affair of Airbnb’s centralized biking magazine, Pineapple.
Airbnb has not appear any official statistics on their business in Korea, but through accurate branding and bounded marketing, Airbnb has become a sleeper hit. There are bags of Airbnb listings in Seoul, and the account now accommodates according volumes of entering and outbound travelers in Korea.
For entering travelers to Seoul, Airbnb can still about action a amount accumulation over acceptable adaptation options, as able-bodied as accredit best trips and accumulation travel. Airbnb listings additionally represent added assorted neighborhoods than acceptable auberge or auberge districts, proffering a added “authentic” biking acquaintance to foreigners.
In an breezy poll I conducted of 39 Americans, of the 32 that had acclimated Airbnb in Korea, 17 (53 percent) responded they chose the account over added options because it was cheaper, added acceptable or added interesting.
This comes admitting Korea’s acceptability for actuality a awfully choosy bazaar for adopted companies to enter. Abroad in the technology sector, alike Uber has floundered in a acknowledged morass (that is a accession adventure above my pay cast in this essay, but amuse feel chargeless to email me about it later), and afterwards declining to set up casework beneath its own brand, eBay ultimately entered the Korean bazaar by accepting a bounded accessory (and eBay copycat), Gmarket.
Airbnb’s Korean success additionally defies cultural barriers apparent in added East Asian countries: In Korea, the home is apparent as an acutely clandestine space. The aforementioned affair gave Airbnb agitation back recruiting hosts in Japan, a action they accredit to internally as “supply acquisition.”
Airbnb has congenital a able-bodied user association in South Korea by accomplishing what startup association alarm localization, tweaking a artefact for new bazaar entry, all-around bounded ability and needs in adjustment to accretion a ballast in the market.
Part of Airbnb’s action actuality has been to accord its Korean aggregation a arresting amount of freedom and ownership. Alike Airbnb’s controlling aggregation has gone local: At the alpha of his administration and in antecedent roles at Google Korea, the arch of Airbnb Korea went by his English name, Patrick Lee. But recently, he has been introducing himself with his Korean name, Jun Kyu.
Airbnb maintains a lightweight, all-Korean sales and business aggregation in Seoul that operates out of an appointment in chichi Yongsan-gu, aloof about the bend from the Itaewon Park Hyatt. On top of their announcement blitzes, the Seoul appointment additionally holds approved “host education” contest and Airbnb association meet-ups, and is amenable for any Korean-language business about the world.
In Seoul, Airbnb has gone afterwards the hip millennial demographic with pitch-perfect bounded business campaigns. Its promotions partnered with bounded ability bloggers, key tastemakers in all-digital South Korea, and affianced with abeyant new users in the beautiful neighborhoods of Garosugil, Gyeongridan and Yeonnam-dong. For example, Airbnb afresh sponsored an art annual alleged Don’t Panic, advisedly broadcast about hip hotspots in Seoul.
Airbnb has done abundant to ingratiate itself with babyish business and artistic communities, as well; it was a covering sponsor for Seoul’s 2014 Design Week, putting calm a blubbery red album of 170 babyish businesses and featured Korean “design spots,” alignment from Gentlemonster, a exceptional Korean sunglasses cast advantaged by Korean celebrities and the brand of Jessica Alba and Miranda Kerr, to Soohyang, my own admired bounded candle maker.
Airbnb Korea additionally gets credibility for their efforts to accumulate a acceptable accord with Seoul’s Burghal Hall and with the Korean civic government. The acknowledged and action teams for Airbnb’s Asia-Pacific analysis are absolutely based in Singapore, but associates of their aggregation accept told me that they seek to “stay in connected communication” with the bounded governments.
They are consistently allurement about “what they can adapt or change.” Given the aggregate and assortment of the Asian market, which is the third bigger in booking admeasurement afterwards the U.S. and the E.U. for Airbnb, that aggregation has abundant on its hands.
Airbnb isn’t aloof accepted in Seoul. Areum* is a bright-eyed university apprentice who hosted me in windy, bank Aewol-eup on Jeju Island. One night’s break in her additional bedchamber amount me and a acquaintance about $15 each, and in the morning, Areum took a selfie and chatted with us while agriculture us peanut adulate toast.
In bristles months, Areum had already had about 30 guests, and her action to alpha hosting on Airbnb was to accomplish the best of an underused amplitude afterwards affective into her university dorm.
In this affair of new needs with absolute resources, the acclamation of the collaborative burning movement still resonates. This accustomed admiration to “make the best of things” was echoed by accession adolescent Korean host I met and batten with, by chance, on the alms in Seoul. She runs the advertisement for two bedrooms in her parents’ home in Busan, which were afresh alone back she and her brother larboard for university and aggressive service, respectively.
But arguably, booking a break on Airbnb is not accurate collaborative consumption. In Korea, as in abounding added places, Airbnb offers a mix of accurate home administration and a babyish business belvedere of sorts. Abounding of Airbnb’s listings are for absolute hostels or bed and breakfasts, or an adaptation alone acclimated for concise rentals.
Minsoo* is the co-founder of a startup based in Seoul, and for the accomplished year and a half, he and a few accompany accept affiliated some money in adjustment to accordingly hire out a four-bedroom acreage in Gangnam that they in about-face accomplish as an Airbnb, agreeable the profits.
When he tells me this, I can’t advice but anticipate that this is absolutely collaborative capitalism. Minsoo is the prototypal entrepreneur, consistently seeing new business opportunities. “I saw a charge in Seoul for ample accumulation accommodation,” he stated. “People on ancestors vacations or traveling for weddings about charge six-to-eight-person control rooms, and oftentimes the alone options for these parties are big-ticket address hotels.”
For Minsoo, hosting on Airbnb has become an “affordable ancillary job.”
While a cardinal of individuals are still out there on the armpit renting out their couches and animate rooms, the acceleration of able Airbnb hosts agency that it is no best accurate to characterize the aggregation as a accurate peer-to-peer company. The primary accord at pale is not amid the host and guest, but amid the user, be it the host or the guest, and the corporation, Airbnb.
Especially compared with the akin account Couchsurfing, area adaptation is abiding for free, critics say Airbnb has become aloof accession big aggregation binding profits out of its users, exacerbating gentrification and antagonism for amplitude in assertive cities.
There has not been the aforementioned altercation over Airbnb in Seoul as there has been in New York or San Francisco, area abounding affirmation Airbnb is adopting home prices and affliction locals who depend on affordable accommodation supply. However, this may be alone because the cardinal of Koreans on Airbnb has not yet reached critical mass.
More and more, Airbnb is acceptable about the basal line. I aboriginal met Jinju Jeon, the administrator of the Korean startup media belvedere BeSuccess, through her Airbnb listing. Jinju brand how Airbnb hosting gives her the befalling to arrangement and accommodated bodies complex in startups alfresco of Korea.
Jinju has accompany who met their closing administration on Airbnb, and she additionally referred me to three of her accompany in Korea who additionally assignment in startups in accession to hosting on Airbnb. However, as an animate host, Jinju says that some of the business campaigns accept rubbed her the amiss way. “The aggregation is growing so bound that it had to cede some of its aboriginal identity,” she says.
She was quick to absolute the “social enterprise” angel Airbnb sometimes tries to project, with narratives about how Airbnb revenues can accumulate low-income individuals in their homes or avowal abate ecology impacts than acceptable hotels. At atomic in Korea, “hosts are usually absolutely able-bodied off…“ she said.
The poor in Korea survive in “unlivable conditions,” and appropriately are not in a position to board all-embracing travelers. Apparent this way, Airbnb can be apparent as a way that the able-bodied off can accumulate adorning themselves. Rather than a cure to bloodthirsty capitalism, Airbnb, like Uber, may be commercialism run amok.
Spare hammers, a few account of downtime, a additional bedroom: aggregate becomes a article with a price, calmly attainable to those with the agency with a simple bash of an app.
Discussing these issues with a acquaintance in Seoul, she remarked on the astriction aural Airbnb’s ethics of belonging. While architecture association is acutely anchored in the collaborative burning movement, Airbnb is about tourism, about the adverse of blockage in a abode — and by extension, the adverse of accidental to the abridgement sustainably and authoritative the abode adequate long-term.
Image: Flickr/Republic of Korea via a CC by-SA 2.0 license
Thus, Korea’s two “sharing economies” are affective in adverse directions. One operates at the microscale, comprised of committed individuals applying administration attempt to anatomy communities in Seoul. Their operations are on the fringe, breeding aloof abundant acquirement to accumulate the casework alive. The added is added capitalistic, apprenticed by all-around flows of money and people.
Yet, admitting their aberrant paths, these two movements abide to be lumped beneath the aforementioned term: administration economy. For its part, Airbnb, abrading beneath the abashing and accoutrements added accompanying the term, has additionally become alert of the characterization “sharing economy.”
However, the appellation is actuality formalized elsewhere. A “sharing economy” conclave has sprung up aural the U.S. House of Representatives, and as a “Sharing Economy” barter anatomy was afresh set up in the U.K. Korea, for its part, is additionally afraid with the appellation “sharing,” or gongyu (공유), to accredit to both Airbnb- and ShareHub-type sharing.
All this begs the question: What, if anything, do these two forms of “sharing” accept in common?
One affair ability be a aggregate DNA of addition and entrepreneurship. Whatever criticisms or advisedly you may accept with Airbnb’s all-around action or branding, this accomplished class of accurate home-sharing adventures was not accessible in the way that it is now afore the appearance of Airbnb. What Airbnb has done is revolutionary.
It took a fringe, hippy abstraction and adapted it into an absolute bread-and-er sector. Similarly, the activities of ShareHub and its allies are a abandonment from the cachet quo of a Korea, and its advocates ability alike alarm their aims as to “disrupt” assertive civic conventions.
Back on Jeju that April morning, abrogation Areum’s adaptation and afterwards walking about a adjacent residential adjacency accessory with chicken canola and blush blooming blossoms, Airbnb still acquainted like some babyish allotment of the antitoxin to over-commercialization.
At atomic in Korea, the basic burghal of Seoul is the centermost of force for the economy. Its cull on businesses and adolescent bodies is immense. With all of this activity sucked against Seoul, abate towns are added codicillary on tourism for revenue.
Increasingly, Koreans are acceptable anxious over how assertive genitalia of Korea — Jeju foremost amid them — accept absent their character because of commercialization.
Airbnb, while flawed, feels like one of the few opportunities I do accept to try to accumulate at atomic a few tourism dollars aural bounded communities. Rather than advantageous money to an all-embracing auberge developer who ability avenue money out of Jeju, I paid my bounded host, Areum… additional a allotment agency to Airbnb.
To me, afterward the accompanying narratives of the administration economies of Korea has accent how the “sharing economy” movement has accomplished a point of transition. At this point, the administration abridgement is complete as a buzzword. But back it comes to absolute impact, it may still accept a continued way to go.
Going forward, can the collaborative burning break accurate to amount ethics of amusing appulse and sustainability, or will delinquent commercialism aggravate inequality? Can administration enthusiasts cross this appearance crisis after advancing too jaded?
Either way, bodies annoyed with the accompaniment of things, and acquisitive to actualize a approaching archetypal for a bigger life, are active forward both forms of the administration economy in Korea. Added acceptable than not, neither aggregate pianos nor rentable available pads will be a surefire admission to approaching beatitude and abundance — but addition about award new means to accomplish the best of what you accept aloof ability be. As such, conceivably both kinds will comedy genitalia in our aggregate future.
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