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[Seoul] Will the room-sharing improve?

In 2012, I went to Paris with the money I earned while working part time at the franchise coffee shop. The travel period was a month. What I wanted to see was neither the Eiffel Tower, nor the streets of Champs Elysees, nor the Arc de Triomphe. I wanted to see with my own eyes what people eat and what they do in the most famous art city in the world. I'm quite fond of traveling. I especially like a long, leisurely trip. I don't like package tours that have to rush around at tight times. I believe traveling begins after living there for two weeks. 

There are several things I need to prepare to start a month's trip. Tickets for flights, friendly farewells to family/friends and accommodation reservations. A month is never a short time, and one month's stay may be called a house. Someone may be rich enough to stay in a hotel for 30 days and a guest house with 12 people in one room may be appropriate, at least I am not. A house that would end a new day had to be affordable and personal enough.

Airbnb, the famous room-sharing service to meet the needs of people like me. As of 2016, Airbnb's accumulated number of users exceeded 100 million, and 4 million were in 2012. There are several factors that have helped Airbnb grow so quickly, but the development of IT technology cannot be discussed without exception. Rapidly activated SNS and an environment in which anyone can access information easily created consumer products that produce and consume information at the same time. To qualify for Airbnb's accommodation provider, it is necessary to authenticate to a SNS account with a state-certified identification card and a steady history of activity. The same goes for those who want to be users. This airbnb's policy enabled the company to build solid trust between providers and users, and Airbnb's rapid growth was achieved. I have been using Airb&B in New York, Tokyo, Reykjavik, and Berlin ever since. Airbnb was definitely an attractive service. It has captivated many people include me to be able to enjoy such comfort at a cheaper price than a hotel. The number of accommodation available to choose from increased exponentially.

But I don't want to talk about Airbnb's success story now. It is more like opposition. Although Airbnb is often mentioned as one of the representative shared economy services, is Airbnb a good example of a shared economy? Many people have already pointed out the side effects of rapid growth, which has never been the case in the history of Airbnb. First, Airbnb is not responsible for any problems arising from the provision of accommodation and reception. Although Airbnb disqualifies the user or disqualifies the provider in the event of an accident, it has been criticized as virtually giving individuals responsibility and minimal platform responsibility.

Secondly, when talking about the side effects of Airbnb, one of the issues that cannot be thought of is tourism. You may find it unfair to blame Airbnb for all the reasons for the tour. But where there is a lot of people, it's natural that short-term rental housing is activated, and those who find out that their own home can soon generate profits too. This phenomenon soon leads to a rise in real estate prices. The stories of Native Americans leaving behind a ruined life of high real estate prices and tourists to attract attention are no longer unfamiliar to us living in Seoul. While I was in Berlin using Airbnb, I met with protests against “Gentrification”. 

So are there other alternatives for citizens who want to benefit from the idle space, tourists who find comfort and experience local culture, and people who want to activate the congested areas?

It is not perfect, but there are alternatives. The Seoul Metropolitan Government is supporting "experience-accommodation" using empty rooms of Seoulites through a project called ‘Seoul Stay’. Seoul Stays operate in two main forms: 'foreign tourism and urban lodging that provide accommodation by utilizing real estate inhabited by residents in urban areas and 'experience facilities' for tourists. In order to start each lodging business, various conditions must be met, for example, to start a foreign tourism urban private business, the following conditions must be met.

1) Housing in which the applicant actually resides (excluding the apartment and nearby living facilities)
2) Applicants or residents may provide foreign language information service. 
3) A foreigner should be able to experience domestic culture in Korea. 
4) Have at least one fire extinguisher and install a single alarm detector for each room 

In addition, unauthorized buildings such as rooftops or business registration cards cannot be certified by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. These districts directly certify urban lodging by clear standards and manage it so that local residents can generate profits by using their own idle space without preventing inflow of tourists. 

With the problems of Gentrification and Tourist Placement becoming serious in many countries, governments in each country and cities are coming up with measures. A shared economy should not be considered only as a new business item for capitalism. December 31, 2017, the total number of lodgings registered on the Seoul Stay is 1,042 and 3,213 guest rooms. 

At this moment, some people may have to turn their backs on their beloved neighborhood. Hopefully, Seoul Stays will be a way to solve the problem of short-term rental businesses and lead to a real shared society.