A customer takes advantage of Uber’s ride-hailing services. Uber has joined hands with SK Telecom, Korea’s foremost mobile carrier to make its presence felt in the Korean market. Photo courtesy of Uber Technologies

Two big corporations strive to make splash in Korea’s mobility business

SK Telecom, Korea’s largest mobile operator, has teamed up with Uber Technologies, the world’s top mobility platform company, to drive growth in the ride-hailing market here.

The two companies announced on Oct. 16 that SK Telecom will split off its mobility business unit to establish T Map Mobility later this year. Uber will invest $50 million.

In addition, Uber is scheduled to funnel $100 million to set up a joint venture with SK Telecom. The former will hold a 51-percent stake in the outfit while the latter will own the remaining 49 percent.

Uber first made inroads into the Korean market in 2013, but its major business model of offering ride-sharing services with private cars failed in the face of taxi drivers’ strong opposition.

After halting operation in its major segment, Uber has tried various businesses like premium taxi-hailing services. But it failed to make its presence felt here.

Korea was one of Uber’s first international markets, and we are committed to fully realizing its potential,” Uber’s Chief Financial Officer Nelson Chai said.

Through our strong partnership with SKT, we will expand access to ride-hailing services in the country and bring better service to riders and drivers. We look forward to serving the South Korean market in the years ahead.”

SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho also expressed his hype about the two-way alliance.

Together with Uber, the world’s top mobility platform company, we will turn customer’s time and money spent on mobility into time used for more valuable purposes and realize greater safety for all modes of transportation,” Park said.

To this end, we will work closely with companies with diverse capabilities to address current challenges in transportation, and ultimately usher in a new era of future mobility technologies such as flying cars.”