Uber Korea took to Twitter earlier today, announcing, “We’re back. Have you used our new Black service? “
Evidently, Uber is back in business in Korea, and this time they’re going all black.
Less than two years ago, Uber Korea and the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) began a confusing series of fiery battles; the former wanted to continue its ultra-hip cab operations throughout Seoul yet the latter was extremely adamant on banning all Uber cars from the city streets, citing safety concerns, “technical illegality,” and a lack of a centralized regulatory system.
As tensions escalated, the city government implemented fines for Uber users and reward programs for those who reported Uber activity while Uber Korea made the bold decision to eliminate fares on its UberX service in the hopes of reducing “the negative impact on its drivers and their partners and to protect them from an anti-ridesharing ordinance by the city.” To no avail, Uber Korea soon shut down all operations in March 2015 due to legal issues for an indefinite time. Uber Korea was supposed to be gone and forgotten. But not so fast.
Today on January 19, Uber Technologies Inc. announced that Uber Korea was back on the market and has launched a new premium taxi-hailing service named Uber Black. The standard fare is W8,000 and bookings can be made through a smartphone application. Uber Black ensures high quality and service as its registered drivers have been accident-free for at least five years and have received a service-oriented education.
The Uber Black taxis are K9 sedans, thanks to a friendly deal with Kia Motors Corp. Consequently, Uber Black drivers are eligible to buy the model at a reduced price.
The start of this new launch will inevitably create a competition ring against Korea’s leading taxi service Kakaotaxi Black, owned and operated by the nation’s most popular messenger app KakaoTalk. Whether or not Uber Black will triumph over Kakao taxi is yet to be determined but let’s just hope Uber Korea will still exist this time next year.