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Where is Dynamic Korea? (KOR)

Nov 24,2019
LEE SO-A
The author is an industry team reporter at the JoongAng Ilbo.

The “Dynamic Korea” slogan that first came up during the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan can no longer describe Korea today. The economy that ran at an annual growth rate of 3.2 percent in 2017 is expected to finish under 2 percent this year. Except for a few areas like artificial intelligence and big data, the hiring prospects also look poor across the board.

Dynamics cannot be revived without new growth. New business ventures should be explored, invested in and challenged so that the results spill over and reinvigorate business activities across industries. But regulations remain the primary stumbling block.

President Moon Jae-in promised to allow all kinds of businesses unless they are sanctioned by the law. But what still remains outlawed should be reconsidered. For instance, when they first appeared in the 1990s, emails and quick delivery services were in violation of the post act that banned deliveries of correspondence — except for by the state-controlled postal service.

The taxi industry and the prosecution even regard van-hailing service Tada as breaking the law that prohibits a rental car operator from hiring drivers. Companies inevitably must bend the law in Korea to try out businesses that can work and flourish.

An entrepreneur involved in an environment-related enterprise complained that nothing can be done in Korea as the entry barriers are too high for a start-up to meet. However, the United States imposed tax and regulations on home-sharing platform Airbnb only after its business became big enough. “Why can’t authorities just leave businesses to experiment? There are too many ideas that are wasted because they cannot be tried out,” he fumed.

Traditional industries will suffer with the rise of platform-based businesses. But all ages go through industrial transitions. The choices are eventually given to consumers and markets. Rising, falling and evolving are what make a market dynamic.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 20, Page 35