ofo pulls operation from South Korea

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ofo is reportedly pulling its operation in South Korea after less than a year in the country. The Korea Herald first broke the news that ofo has begun retreating from the market and has already suspended most of the employees, which is regarded as part of a general layoff process.

“Though it has yet to completely terminate its business here, ofo Korea is in the process of letting go of most of its workers, putting them on a ‘task suspension,’” an unnamed source told local media. As of Tuesday, the ofo app was still functioning and available for download in Korea’s Google Play store, the bikes were also available for rental.

The Chinese bike-rental company forayed into Korea this January, launching a small-scale pilot in Busan, the country’s second-largest city, and deploying around 2,000 bikes across the city. However, the company has not expanded its operation into Seoul, the capital city, which it would have faced fiercer competition with the established public bike rental system in place.

ofo’s exit from the Korean market appears to be part of the scale-back in the international market as the company rethinks its global expansion strategies. ofo has been retreating from multiple countries and cities that have proven to be more difficult to operate in and less profitable. Instead, it has been shifting its focus on priority markets.

Earlier this year, ofo scaled back its deployment in the US and United Kingdom, and axing its operations in Germany, Austrailia, Israel among other countries. Last month, the company pulled out from a number of cities in Spain, shifting its focus to other “key markets.” The company said then that different arrangements will be made for each market based on its own evaluation of the market.