Uber Tries Again in South Korea, Relaunches Private Car Service

November 11, 2015, 12:37 PM UTC
Photograph by Andrew Harrer — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ride-hailing company Uber is taking another crack at operating in South Korea after regulators forced the company to shut down most of its operations earlier this year.

According to media reports on Wednesday, Uber is resuming its flagship service, UberBlack, which will become available to all citizens by the end of the year. The service employs commercially licensed private drivers to ferry passengers around. Uber has partnered with Kia Motors to provide discounts on luxury sedans to drivers without their own cars. Uber had hired drivers to operate rental cars in UberBlack’s previous incarnation before it was shut down.

UberTaxi, which signs up taxi drivers and connects them to passengers, has been operating in the country, although it has kept a low profile, as the Wall Street Journal notes.

UberX, the company’s service that employs regular people using their own cars to drive passengers, is still illegal under South Korea’s regulations.

Although Uber seems to finally be making progress in Korea, it still remains to be seen if it’ll be able to make up for lost time. Shortly after UberX was forced to halt operations in March, Kakao, the parent company of Korea’s most popular messaging app, introduced KakaoTaxi to compete in the ride-hailing space. It says it received more than 1.2 million ride requests in the first four months, according to the Journal. It has since launched a premium version of the service.

South Korea isn’t the only country where Uber has found regulatory opposition. India banned the service following a string of sexual assault cases, and its European version of UberX was suspended in France following violent protests. The company is facing similar challenges in several other places around the world.

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