“The Sharing City, Seoul” Project

“The Sharing City, Seoul” Project

Sharing City – a new city paradigm

On 20 September 2012, the Seoul Metropolitan Government disclosed its plan for promoting the “Sharing City, Seoul” project, which includes 20 sharing programs and policies for generating or diffusing “sharing city” infrastructure after declaring the “Seoul as a Sharing City” vision. The Metropolitan Government regards “sharing city” as a new alternative for social reform that can resolve many economic, social, and environmental issues of the city simultaneously by creating new business opportunities, recovering trust-based relationships, and minimizing wastage of resources. In particular, the city plans to deploy secondary sharing infrastructure from now on to enhance the usefulness of idle resources such as space, objects, and talents since its urban policies have concentrated on constructing primary sharing infrastructure to date, such as roads, parking lots, schools, and libraries. Parallel to the above, the Metropolitan Government plans to implement policies of opening public resources to the citizens by having the public sector take the initiative while focusing on the implementation of policies that respect and promote private sector capabilities.

Why “sharing city”?

First, sharing allows us to gain more benefits with fewer or less resources since it enhances the usefulness of resources. Therefore, the government can provide more services to the citizens with a smaller budget. For example, approximately 30% of the parking slots belonging to the “all-day resident priority parking system” remain empty during daytime hours. If only 5% is shared with visitors to the neighborhood, it would result in 1,862 new parking slots, saving the tax money.

Second, when the sharing economy becomes reinvigorated, it can create new jobs and added values. New types of jobs will be created since information and communication technologies will link various resources to those who need them, enabling new venture businesses to become viable with small capital. Furthermore, citizens may earn additional income by lending their idle resources to others at adequate prices. For example, they could earn additional monthly income of 500,000 won by leasing their empty rooms to foreign tourists for 50,000 won per night, ten times a month.

Third, sharing can contribute to the recovery of the disappearing sense of community, increasing interpersonal exchanges and restoring broken relations since sharing promotes a trust-based, reciprocal economy. Thus, the sharing city project will be implemented along with the “Community Building Project” implemented by the Seoul Metropolitan Government as one of its priority policies.

Fourth, sharing contributes to the settlement of environmental issues caused by overconsumption. Sharing saves resources without limiting their use, since their usefulness is enhanced because multiple people use one resource. Moreover, wastage of resources can be minimized since resources are linked to those who need them.

Sharing Economy in Seoul

Seoul has conditions that are advantageous to the development of a sharing economy with its highly dense population and highly developed IT and Internet services particularly the world’s 2nd highest supply rate of broadband Internet and smart phones. Sharing economy models that emerged and grew active in San Francisco have been appearing in Seoul one after the other.

A new-concept, home-stay service is offered by “BnBHero” and “Kozaza,” which link tourists with home owners with empty rooms. On the other hand, a new service has been started under the “Citizens’ Library Shelves,” an online library that enables the sharing of bibliographic information and books over the Internet and wherein books owned by citizens are stored in a large warehouse. Likewise, in “Zipbob”, people with interest in the same topics dine together to share their views, whereas “Co-up” enables sharing office space. “Green car”, “Socar” and other car-sharing services are growing very fast. In addition, “the Open Closet”, an organization of people who lend their used suits to young job-seekers and give encouraging messages, has been established.

Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Roles in Promoting Seoul as a Sharing City

The basic policy directions of “Seoul as a Sharing City” are set to promote or support civilian or private sector sharing programs by providing infrastructure for a sharing city, with the private sector playing the essential roles of exploring and implementing shared domains.


First of all, “the Seoul Metropolitan Government Act on the Promotion of Sharing” was enacted and promulgated to provide the legal grounds for supporting sharing NPOs or sharing corporations while deploying infrastructure for promoting sharing. The Act includes key provisions such as those for declaring principles for sharing public resources, designating “sharing NPOs or sharing corporations,” providing administrative or financial support, and organizing a “sharing promotion committee.”

Moreover, citizens particularly the beginners suffer from inconveniences in locating sharing-related information since the online platforms for sharing are scattered at different businesses or groups instead of gathered and maintained at one site. By June this year, a “Seoul Sharing Portal site” wherein sharing-related information and platforms-related information will be gathered at one site – will be established. When the “Seoul Sharing Portal site” is set up, citizens will be able to participate in sharing programs more easily since they will be able to locate the sharing-related information and platforms with the “sharing city” keyword only.

In addition, the Metropolitan Government plans to correct obstructive statutes or systems by maintaining a cooperative relationship with the central government while supporting sharing NPOs or sharing corporations that have experienced difficulties in locating responsible departments by unifying into the “Social Innovation Division” of the Seoul Metropolitan Government windows for sharing-related civilian proposals and requests for the improvement of institutions.


The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to implement the “System for Designating Sharing NPOs or Corporations” under which NPOs or Corporations that satisfy certain city-provided requirements are designated as “sharing NPOs or Corporations” to let the citizens participate in sharing activities with confidence while increasing their trust in civilian sharing NPOs or Corporations. The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to support the publicity campaigns of the designated sharing NPOs or Corporations to let them be better known among the citizens and to promote collaborative programs with the departments concerned of the Seoul Metropolitan Government while assigning to them a brand identity of Sharing City. In addition, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to subsidize expenses of projects closely related with the citizens’ life by selecting recipients from among those promoted by such designated sharing NPOs or Corporations (250 million won, US$240,000, or EUR 180,000 to approx. 10 businesses in 2013).

Furthermore, to accelerate business startups related to sharing economy, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to support those who are preparing for such by providing them with office space, consulting services, and subsidy of operational expenses in connection with the Seoul Metropolitan Government startup support program (around 20 startup businesses to be supported).

The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to organize a “Seoul Sharing Promotion Committee” as the partnership governance between public and private sector. The committee will consist of representatives from the academe, legal service circle, press, businesses, NPOs, research institutes, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government officials in charge of the economy, welfare, transportation, and innovation. The committee will perform review functions concerning the designation of and support for sharing NPOs and Corporation in addition to the development and assessment of sharing promotion policies and consulting on the improvement of statutes and institutions. The Metropolitan Government will also operate international conferences and promotional booths for sharing NPOs and Corporation by holding a Sharing City Conference in August.

In addition, the Metropolitan Government will implement policies for having the citizens familiarize themselves with sharing to lower the mental barriers to sharing by operating comprehensive sharing city PR programs through the promotional media of the city.

Priority Sharing City Programs
The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to select for priority promotion sharing-related programs that are close to the citizens’ life.


Corporate commuter buses running from the city’s suburbs or other satellite cities to the city center have roughly 15% or 2,300 empty seats. The Metropolitan Government plans to introduce a system wherein such empty seats could be shared with pregnant women or others who need care in transportation services.

To promote car-sharing, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to introduce the Seoul Car Sharing Service with 492 sharing-cars this coming February. Toward that end, the Metropolitan Government will develop a brand and provide 229 parking lots in 90 public parking lots.

Seoul has already implemented a system of preferentially assigning parking lots to residents when they pay a given amount. Roughly 30% of these parking slots are vacant during daytime hours. The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to provide these vacant parking lots to those who make advance reservation via smart phone application.


The Seoul Metropolitan Government has promoted the “Shared Bookshelves” program wherein residents in the neighborhood share books kept on bookshelves allotted to residents of apartment houses with over 300 households by installing a small library at such apartment houses. The Metropolitan Government also plans to operate a tool library wherein apartment house residents may share travel bags, hand tools, and other articles that are used only once in a while. The Metropolitan Government believes that such sharing programs will have the effect of reviving communities among the residents.
Many students who are away from their homes in remote regions to attend one of the many universities in Seoul have experienced many difficulties because of the high house rent rates. On the other hand, many senior citizens suffer from loneliness as more elderly people live alone with the arrival of the aging society. The Metropolitan Government plans to connect those senior citizens who have extra empty rooms with students who need them. In this arrangement, the rooms may be rented at a low rate to the students, who in turn may provide the lonely senior citizens with services such as cleaning or shopping.


More tourists visit Seoul, but they have experienced inconveniences due to the shortage of hotel rooms. To address this problem, and to help residents earn extra income, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to promote home-stay services for foreign tourists.

New buildings of a given size or larger are required to have an open ground space, but such space is not duly utilized. The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to support the sharing of such space as venues for artistic performances or flea or swap markets. Such space will also be utilized as small-scale urban rest area with chairs provided. In addition, the Metropolitan Government plans to provide a map service showing the locations or other details of such open spaces.

Furthermore, the Metropolitan Government plans to provide its photos of Seoul to the citizens under the Creative Commons License (CCL – permitting creations to be used by others freely under certain conditions). The Seoul Metropolitan Government intends to make a “Seoul On-line Photo Bank” so that citizens may share Seoul-related photos or contents with each other online.


The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to support the sharing of used children’s clothes since they soon become too small for rapidly growing children. This way, used clothes dumped as waste will decrease significantly. On the other hand, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has already implemented policies of saving resources by having printers or other office equipment shared more intensively by reducing them in its offices. Moreover, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to provide environment-friendly electric cars for sharing among its employees.

Attachment: Seoul Metropolitan Government Act for Promoting Sharing – 1 copy
Seoul Metropolitan Government Act No. 5396 (31 December 2012)

Seoul Metropolitan Government Act for Promoting Sharing

Article 1 (Purposes)
This Act seeks to stipulate the necessary matters to ensure the maximum utilization of resources, restore communities, and revive the regional economy by promoting sharing.

Article 2 (Definition)
The terms used in this Act shall be defined as follows:
1. “Sharing” shall mean the shared use of space, objects, or information to enhance their social, economic, or environmental values and to enhance the citizens’ benefits or conveniences.
2. “Sharing NPOs” shall mean non-profit organizations that have been designated pursuant to Article 8 to contribute to the resolution of social issues through sharing, including those related to the economy, welfare, culture, environment, and transportation.
3. “Sharing Corporations” shall mean corporations that have been designated pursuant to Article 8 to contribute to the resolution of social issues through sharing, including those related to the economy, welfare, culture, environment, and transportation.

Article 3 (Duties of the Mayor)
① The mayor shall strive to engage the public resources of Seoul Metropolitan City (“the city”) and its invested or funded agencies.
② The mayor shall provide the necessary support to promote the sharing of private resources belonging to the citizens and businesses.

Article 4 (Participation by Citizens, Etc.)
Citizens and businesses shall actively participate in the promotion of sharing by taking the initiative in the exploration or practice of sharing domains.

Article 5 (Policies for Promoting Sharing)
The mayor shall actively implement the relevant policies for promoting sharing, including the following:
1. Support for the exploration or practice of sharing domains
2. Development of and support for sharing NPOs and Corporations.
3. Spreading perception of promote sharing
4. Improvement of statutes or institutions for promoting sharing
5. Cooperation among sharing-related NPOs, Corporations, or institutions at home and abroad
6. Other matters deemed necessary to promote sharing

Article 6 (Relationship with Other Statutes or Acts)
This Act shall be followed unless specifically provided for otherwise in connection with the promotion of sharing under other statutes or ordinances.

Article 7 (Cooperation with Autonomous Districts)
The mayor shall support the policies implemented by autonomous district offices to promote sharing and implement policies for promoting sharing in active cooperation with them.

Article 8 (Designation of Sharing NPOs and Corporations)
1 The mayor may designate as sharing NPOs or sharing Corporations any NPO, corporation wishing to resolve social issues through sharing among non-profit, non-government organizations under the Act on Support for Non-Profit, Non-Government Organizations, non-profit corporations under the Civil Act, and small and medium businesses under the Framework Act on Small and Medium Businesses or social businesses or provisional social businesses under the Seoul Metropolitan Government Act on the Development of Social Businesses.
② Sharing groups or businesses designated as in Clause① above shall actively strive to spread the sharing culture and enhance the benefits or conveniences of the citizens.
③ The Seoul Metropolitan Government rules shall determine specific details, including the scope of social issues, requirements for designating sharing groups or businesses, designation procedures, or cancellation of designation.

Article 9 (Subsidy and Other Support)
① The mayor may provide the sharing groups or businesses with subsidies based on the availability of funds or administrative support including those for improving institutions based on a review by the sharing promotion committee under Article 11.
② Subsidies shall not be provided for identical purposes to existing projects that have been given subsidies by the Seoul Metropolitan Government or autonomous district offices in the same fiscal period to avoid redundancy.
③ Sharing groups or businesses that are given subsidies pursuant to Clause ① above shall enter into an agreement with the Metropolitan Government on the provision of subsidies according to the city-provided procedure. They shall set up separate accounts for subsidies to control receipts and expenditures.
④ Sharing groups or businesses shall faithfully perform projects given subsidies according to the agreement under Clause ③ and shall refrain from using the subsidies for other purposes.
⑤ The mayor may revoke the designation of sharing groups or businesses in case of abuse or illegal or unfair use of subsidies.
⑥ Specific matters concerning reporting, reconciliation, inspection or supervision of subsidies, and sanctions against their abuse shall be governed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government ordinances on the administration of subsidy or provision of subsidies to social organizations.

Article 10 (Fund Support for Fostering Small and Medium Businesses)
① The mayor may support sharing businesses with the Fund for Fostering Small and Medium Businesses or credit guarantee.
② The mayor may allow sharing groups or businesses to use public facilities or offer discounted use rates as required for public benefit.
③ Specific matters concerning such support or discounts under Clauses ① and ② shall be governed by the relevant provisions of the city’s individual ordinances or rules.

Article 11 (Organization of the Sharing Promotion Committee)
① The Seoul Metropolitan Government Sharing Promotion Committee (“the committee”) shall be organized subordinate to the mayor for review of or consulting on sharing-related policies and matters concerning support to sharing groups or businesses.
② The committee shall consist of not more than 15 members, including 1 chairperson and 1 vice chairperson.
③ The chairperson shall be elected from among the appointed outside members, with a general director-level city official in charge of innovation serving as vice chairperson.
④ Ex-officio members shall be appointed from among general director-level city officials in charge of economy, welfare, transportation, and innovation, with outside members to be appointed or commissioned by the mayor among the following:
1. Two city assemblymen recommended by the Seoul Metropolitan Council chairperson
2. Those representing the academe and possessing experience in research related to sharing
3. Those who have experiences in services related to sharing at NGOs, non-profit corporations, small or medium businesses, or social businesses
4. Lawyers or certified accountants who have experiences in social activities related to sharing
5. 4th or higher-grade government employees who handle or who have handled sharing-related duties
6. Those deemed to have qualifications comparable to any of those specified in Items 2 ~ 5 above
⑤ The term of service of the ex-officio members shall be their term of service in their government post. The service term of the commissioned members shall be three years and may be renewed once. Note, however, that members appointed to fill vacancies shall serve the remaining term of their predecessors.
⑥ The director of Social Innovation Division of the Seoul Metropolitan Government shall serve as secretary of the committee to handle its administrative matters.

Article 12 (Functions of the Committee)
The committee shall review or provide consulting on the following matters:
1. Review related to the designation or cancellation of sharing NPOs or Corporations
2. Review related to support to sharing NPOs or Corporations
3. Consulting related to the development or assessment of policies for promoting sharing
4. Consulting related to the improvement of statutes or institutions for promoting sharing
5. Consulting related to other matters deemed necessary by the mayor for promoting sharing

Article 13 (Meetings)
① The chairperson shall convene meetings of the committee and preside over the meetings.
② Committee meetings shall be convened under the following cases:
1. When requested by the mayor
2. When requested by one third or more of the outstanding members
3. When deemed necessary by the chairperson
③ Committee meetings shall be held with attendance by majority of the outstanding members, and resolutions shall be adopted by the affirmative vote of majority of the attending members.
④ Members who have conflicting interests or those who discover conflicting interests with any of the agenda items for review or consulting shall not participate in the review or consulting.
⑤ The committee may listen to the opinions of government officials or experts or request them to submit the necessary information concerning its meeting agenda items.

Article 14 (Allowance or Travel Expenses)
The committee may pay allowance or shoulder the travel expenses of its members based on the availability of budget funds as provided for under the Seoul Metropolitan Government Act on the payment of committee member allowances or travel expenses.

Article 15 (Enforcement Rules)
Specific matters required for the enforcement of this Act shall be stipulated in the relevant rules.

Addendum
This Act shall take effect on the day of its promulgation.

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