A humbler Uber relaunches limo service in South Korea

A humbler Uber relaunches limo service in South Korea
PHOTO: Reuters

SEOUL - Uber Technologies, the American smartphone-based transport dispatcher, announced the relaunch of its limousine service in South Korea on Wednesday even though its chief executive still faces criminal charges in the country.

The previously brash company which had willingly embraced its labeling as a "disruptor" struck a notably softer tone, highlighting its co-operation with the government of Seoul, which had responded with its own regulatory counter-offensive to Uber's initial entry.

CEO Travis Kalanick and other Uber staff and drivers were charged earlier this year with illegally operating or facilitating an unlicensed transport service over the company's UberX service, which uses plainclothes drivers operating their own private cars.

South Korean taxi drivers, like their counterparts elsewhere, protested heavily against UberX. After prosecutors filed charges, the company halted the service in South Korea on Mar. 6. A source said Wednesday that charges against Uber staff other than Kalanick have been resolved, but a court summons has been issued to him.

Since the suspension of UberX, the company has continued to operate its UberBlack licensed limousine service and UberTaxi cab dispatch service. But the company's market position has been overshadowed by new services offered by Kakao, the country's dominant instant messaging service.

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