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Jeju Island’s Startups Rise to Address Economic Challenges and Solve Social Problems.

Photo by Seungjun Yeo / Unsplash

Jeju Island, known as the “Hawaii of South Korea,” is gearing up for a new era led by startups.

The island, located 454 km from Seoul, has historically relied on tourism and the service sector, which accounted for 73.7% of the economy in 2019.

However, the island has faced economic challenges in recent years, including a decline in tourism due to a boycott by the Chinese government and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address these challenges, startups on the island are working to address regional imbalances and solve social problems.

Source: Jeju Box

One example is Jeju Box, a startup that addresses the logistical challenges of island residents by providing transportation services between the mainland and the island.

By working with external logistics companies, Jeju Box can offer next-day deliveries to residents and is now focusing on expanding its B2B logistics services.

Reme2me Cushion. Source: Reme2me

Another startup, Reme2me, is working to address the problem of waste reduction on the island. The company produces and sells pet products, such as pillows, made from recycled materials from hotels and condominiums on the island. Reme2me won a demo day competition organized by the Center of Creative Economy and Innovation Jeju in 2019.

Jeju, a popular tourist destination in South Korea, has a history of fraud in its rental car industry.

Some local companies engage in practices such as asking for additional payment or showing fake cars.

To combat this, many tourists have turned to nationwide rental car companies such as Lotte, Aju Avis, or Socar.

JejuPass, a platform connecting tourists with local rental car companies, aims to change this by aligning with 60 local companies and focusing on the value chain of travel agencies. The company has also expanded to include a restaurant guide for tourists.

Locals and students from Jeju National University drive the Jeju startup ecosystem. In addition, the Park Geun-Hye government established the Center of Creative Economy and Innovation Jeju to support startups, and there are currently 52 members of the Jeju Startups Association.

The public or academic sectors primarily make investment and acceleration, but a private accelerator, BridgeSquare, has recently opened to incubate startups and attract seed investments from venture capitalists.

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