The South Korean government is planning to allow telemedicine and blockchain-based regional currencies. The seven regulation-free zones it designated on July 24 are expected to function as test beds for new industry development.
The seven zones are located in Gangwon Province (digital healthcare), Daegu City (smart wellness), Busan City (blockchain), Sejong City (autonomous driving), South Jeolla Province (e-mobility), North Chungcheong Province (smart safety control), and North Gyeongsang Province (advanced battery recycling). A total of 58 regulations will be abolished in the zones and the zones’ total sales and employment during the period are estimated at 700 billion won and 3,500 persons, respectively. 400 companies in total are expected to be housed in the zones.
In Gangwon Province, the government is going to allow private medical institutions to apply and demonstrate telemedicine although it will be limited to returning chronic patients dwelling in remote areas. In Busan City, blockchain technology can be tested in various fields, ranging from regional digital currency to marine product history management, although no cryptocurrency is allowed. Sejong City is expected to become South Korea’s first hub city in terms of autonomous vehicle commercialization. Self-driving buses can be run there as a supplement to mass transit.
The government is expecting that the designation will continue for four to five years although it is indefinite as of now. “The zones can attract companies even after the designation and companies can newly participate in projects in the zones and, as such, large-scale exchanges between companies and industries will be possible,” the government explained.
The government can cancel those projects in the zones in the event of problems. Specifically, the deregulation applied to the zones can be limited when concerns arise over people’s lives and safety and environments and the designation can be revoked in the event of any problem.
The Ministry of SMEs and Startups is in charge of the management of the zones. The ministry is going to provide R&D funds for companies, colleges and research institutes in the zones and help the companies improve their prototypes, obtain patents and enter overseas markets. In addition, the ministry is going to set up an integrated control system for regulation-free zone management.