Last April, C. met Swedish Journalist David Isaksson of Global Reporting Sweden who came to Seoul to make a report on Sharing Economy of Seoul city. He noted that Seoul has shown impressive movement to promote the value of sharing throughout the city. With C., he met various people who believe sharing economy can be a solution for our society including sharing economy entrepreneurs, supporters, public officers and got vivid voices around sharing economy in Seoul. We are very pleased to hear the result of his visit, the book ‘Sharing is Caring “We need super-sectorial innovation’.

by David Isaksson

Wanted – more young entrepreneurs is a joint initiative by several financial institutions, banks and large enterprises in Seoul with the aim of stimulating the development of new companies and business models. Among other things, D.Camp operates a hub and an incubator facility for newborn companies and provides direct investment, mentoring, education, matchmaking and
entrepreneurship camps. But most of all, D.Camp is fighting against traditions and prejudices.

‘What we lack is entrepreneurs. Most graduates don’t want to start their own business, they want to be public servants or work in big companies. And if they start anything, they like to become owners of small cafés or restaurants. Korea is a country with strong social control, you are expected to do certain things, and if you fail you are seen as a looser, someone who brings shame on the family. So the result is that people don’t take risks, they prefer taking safe decisions rather than risking failure,’ says Seokwon Yang, senior manager at D.Camp.

Creating new opportunities

In his role, Seokwon Yang tries to make companies understand that sharing is not harmful to the private sector, but a reaction to a new kind of demand that actually creates new opportunities. Sharing means that the barrier of consumption is lowered, while at the same time giving companies incentives to produce more durable goods that they can sell at a higher price (but consumers still benefit because the stuff will last longer). When things are shared among a group of people, it means fewer products overall. Thus, sharing means connecting old values with new technology.

Sharing also means opening up access to public data. Koreans know how to use their machines and how to access data and information, but what is lacking, argues Seokwon Yang, is the dialogue between citizens and the government, as well as making authorities accountable. Sharing could also help Koreans break with the society’s hierarchical system. One example is a start-up company that provides a rating of the quality of service at different hospitals in the city, in order for citizens to
demand high-quality service and choose where it is best delivered.

Sharing also reflects another shift within the economy, from products to services and ultimately to experiences. To a certain extent, the home-sharing giant AirBnb is offering a product that is more affordable than a hotel (private accommodation), but at the same time it is offering to experiences. To a certain extent, the home-sharing giant AirBnb is offering a product that is more affordable than a hotel (private accommodation), but at the same time it is offering an experience: that of living in someone’s home and being part of the local environment and context (also helping increase the income of people from low- and middle- income groups and thus enabling them to continue to live in their homes). This also partly explains why home-sharing has become so popular: many people who can afford to stay in hotels nevertheless choose house-sharing because it gives them a new and deeper local experience.

‘In the same way,’ says Seokwon Yang, ‘a company like Hyundai will in 10 years from now not be selling cars, but mobility, whatever is needed to move you from one place to another.’

SHARING IS CARING – launch a new book. You can now get a sneak preview on the chapter about how Seoul in South Korea became the sharing capital of the world, download it here: by David Isaksson