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S.Korea now has 15 unicorn companies

Fifteen local startups have officially reached unicorn status, according to the Ministry of SME and Startups on Tuesday.

The ministry said that three startups -- Zigbang, Dunamu, and Market Kurly -- have joined a select group of firms with a valuation exceeding $1 billion.

Not all companies with high valuations are given the unicorn status. Unicorn companies should neither be listed on the stock exchange nor merged with another company. Coupang, for instance, was excluded from the group of local unicorns since it went public on the New York stock market earlier this year.

Korea had six unicorns at the end of 2018. The number increased to 10 in 2019, and to 13 at the end of 2020.

Zigbang is a leading property tech firm here, while Dunamu runs cryptocurrency exchange Upbit. Market Kurly is known for its online grocery delivery service.

A total of 23 startups have been recognized as unicorn companies, but the number has dropped as some of them have gone public or have been acquired by other firms.

“The increase in the number of domestic unicorns this year is evidence of the ongoing venture boom that started last year. It also shows that the economic structure and paradigm centering around conglomerates are changing into the one for ventures and startups,” the ministry said in a press release.

By Kang Sue-min (
Korea Herald Youtube