The “Sharing City Seoul Project” is a new alternative for social reforms that can solve many economical, social and environmental problems of the city. Besides, it can open many new business areas and restore trust-based relationships.

The navigation is done via two ways: On the one hand, public resources such as buildings, streets and parking lots as well as public services should be provided. On the other hand, the city wants to remove hurdles with new legislation and provide the right requirements that make it easier for companies and start-ups to become part of the sharing economy.

One example for public resources are parking spaces for city employees. Instead of closing them in the night and during the weekend, Seoul offers them outside the office hours. During the day, local residents should provide their own parking spaces. If only 5% of the empty parking spaces are provided, the city could create 1.862 new parking spots without spending anything. However, Seoul does not want to save money. On the contrary, non-profit organizations and companies in the area of the sharing economy will be financially supported.

The right conditions

The reason that Seoul is even able to carry out the sharing economy so well is partly due to the conditions. Almost half of South Koreans live in the capital. With 16,671 inhabitants per square kilometre, Seoul is more than four times as densely populated as Berlin or Munich. At the same time, South Korea has the world’s highest broadband penetration with 97.5 percent. Also, the smartphone penetration is with 60 percent relatively high – ideal conditions for an economic model that is depending on finding consumption partners.

Another reason for the successful sharing economy is the Korean mentality. The “Pum-a-si” tradition describes the sharing of food with the neighbors or the mutual lending of tools and other goods. For Korean companies thus the sharing economy means a return to old values. So that the citizens of the capital receive an overview of which services have emerged from which project, “Seoul Sharing” provides an overview. For events such as flea markets, the portal provides an overview of public and private spaces like patios of private homes, which are available for rent. BnBHere and Kozaza alternatives to Airbnb, connect owner of vacant housing and apartment seekers with each other.

Local adaptation

After almost two years, Seoul has actually developed into a sharing city. But global companies like Airbnb do not need to feel threatened. The reason: lack of scalability. Many of the new business models work only within the city and cannot simply be transferred to other regions.