The Seoul Metropolitan Government’s administrative innovations were introduced in the East Asia special edition of the spring 2017 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review. The special edition introduces social innovations in four Asian countries including Korea to English-speaking readers with the goal to help them understand the significance and outlook of such cases in East Asian Societies and provide them with a better understanding of the social issues and structural environment in countries that need innovation.
Out of the local government-initiated innovations implemented by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Stanford Social Innovation Review chose to talk about the owl bus (midnight bus) service. The owl bus service, which had transported over 6,000 passengers a day during its first year (2013) of operation, allowed passengers to save on average 6,000 won (5 dollars) compared to taking a late night taxi. The policy was most highly evaluated by Seoulites in 2013 for cutting back on the number of refusals of passengers by night taxi drivers and promoting the safety of women during their night out.
The special edition mentions the SMG’s ‘Sharing Economy,’ introducing it as a system that has facilitated social innovation and contributed to constructing a healthy ecosystem that led to social innovation by requisitely connecting consumers to resources.
The magazine cited intermediary support organizations as the factor that sets SMG apart from other governmental organizations. It introduced ▴Social Economy Center which supports social enterprises and associations ▴Youth Hub which provides productive ‘Play Ground (Noriteo)’ to young start-up CEOs▴ Seoul Community Support Center which reactivates local communities as a support organization ▴Sharing Hub which supports the sharing economy and venture businesses, ▴and Social Innovation Park which is used as a platform to gather pioneers, citizens and related personnel. SSIR also explained that while the SMG allocates the budget to intermediary support organizations, the organizations operate independently and plan their own policies through discussion.
Since preemptively introducing the ‘Sharing Economy’ policy in 2012 as a countermeasure to various urban issues including parking problems and environmental pollution, the SMG has supported a total of 82 startups and organizations.
Such innovations by the SMG received the international spotlight including coverage in major media and press such as Forbes, LA Times and The Guardian. In March 2016, Seoul was ranked among the ‘Top 7 Most Sustainable Cities in the World’ by The Guardian, and in November 2016, the Mayor of Seoul was awarded the ‘Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development’ given to an individual who contributed to the development of a sustainable future.