Uber suspended its peer-to-peer ride-hailing service in South Korea on Thursday after talks with the local government, the company said on its blog.
The company’s UberBlack service – a premium option that provides licensed chauffeurs of black sedans and SUVs — will continue operating. But the low cost UberX service, which employs drivers using their personal vehicles, will be suspended until further notice.
“After consulting with Seoul City Transport Division and taking their advice, we determined it was in the best interests of Korean riders, drivers and the community as a whole to further define our business offerings within the current confines of the regulatory framework, without ambiguity,” the company said on its blog.
It’s unclear why Uber made that determination.
This is a markedly different tune compared with a “White Paper” that Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick published in 2013, in which he said in the face of regulatory ambiguity, “Uber will roll out ridesharing on its existing platform in any market where the regulators have given tacit approval."
The company encountered problems in South Korea last December after local authorities accused it of violating a transportation law, which says paid transportation with unregistered vehicles is “clearly illegal activity,” the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said.
The South Korea suspension marks a change in the company’s approach to regulators promised by Kalanick. In the wake of criticism over its aggressive expansion and comments from one executive about spying on journalists, Kalanick said Uber would learn from mistakes and be “a smarter and more humble company."