After getting forced out of South Korea, Uber prepares to fight back

This was originally published in Tech in Asia on Dec. 3, 2015.In cities around the world, the story is familiar – the aggressive Silicon Valley startup Uber wages a war against the taxi drivers, bursts into the market and steamrolls anyone or anything that gets in its way.While it sometimes gains enough traction to win over the market, the strategy fell hard and flat in South Korea. The government, taxi unions, and a number of citizens railed against the foreign company for disregarding the country’s laws, while the startup wailed over how “behind the times” Korea risked becoming. The US-based…

The digital nomad: lonely, white, male

This was originally published on Tech in Asia on Sept. 3, 2015. Jon Yongfook, a British-Singaporean software engineer, had enough of his day-to-day routine and decided he was done being the cog in a corporate wheel. “I didn’t want to keep building stuff for other people. I wanted to build stuff for myself. And all I was doing was just waking up in my ridiculously expensive apartment, making breakfast, going to Starbucks, going home, making dinner, and going to bed. And I was just thinking, why? Why would I stay here?” he tells Seoul-based journalist Do You-jin, in her upcoming documentary…

Can Korea compete in crowdfunding?

This was originally published in The Korea Herald on Aug. 11, 2015. Korea’s start-up community breathed a collective sigh of relief last month when the government approved the long-awaited crowdfunding act, two years after it was first proposed in June 2013. Aimed at opening funding channels for start-ups, the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act paves the way for equity-based crowdfunding ― a type of fund-raising method that lets individuals invest up to 2 million won ($1,700) in a single start-up, and 5 million won collectively over the year, through an online brokerage site. With the implementation of equity-based crowdfunding,…

Support for foreign start-ups in Korea reveals redundancies

This is the fourth article in a series on foreigners working in Korea’s technology start-up ecosystem. Two years ago, the barrier for foreign entrepreneurs to open a business in Korea was 100 million won high ― about $100,000. As major cities began emerging as tech hubs, the Seoul government recognized its need to catch up with the global trend as global talent sought friendlier homes. Since then, it has been opening doors for foreigners’ start-ups as part of its creative economy drive to foster the “Korean Silicon Valley” as the next Asian tech hub. The government vowed to do away with the…

[Editing] Korea’s black racism epidemic

OriginalFinal Beauty Epps, of undetermined age and from Chicago, tells this story of being a black woman on the subway in Seoul. “Someone came up to me and said, ‘Africa’,” Epps says.  “I said in Korean, ‘No, migukin.’  She said, ‘No, Africa.’”  Which wasn’t a big deal – Epps doesn’t mind necessarily being confused with an African, and it doesn’t happen very often.  But then the woman said, “‘We domesticated you.’”  Epps couldn’t believe it.  “My jaw just hit the ground.”  She walked away and went to the next subway car. Most foreigners would agree that, even if their experiences…