The Korea Herald


Temu sets up Seoul office to tap deeper into Korean market

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : April 2, 2024 - 15:27

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Temu's logo (Temu's website) Temu's logo (Temu's website)

Chinese e-commerce platform Temu has recently established an entity for its operation in Korea, amidst Chinese platforms' broader entry into the Korean market.

According to information obtained from open legal proceeding records, Pinduoduo, the parent company of Temu, formally registered a corporation named "Whale Co., Korea Limited" on Feb. 23. The purpose of corporation establishment is to engage in e-commerce and related activities. Notably, WhaleCo Inc. operates as a subsidiary of Pinduoduo, based in the United States.

Temu's Korean corporation is registered with a total capital of 100 million won ($74,000), under the name Qin Sun, who is listed as the executive. Qin Sun currently holds the position of CEO at Elemental Innovation Pte. Ltd., a Singaporean company affiliated with Temu.

Although the headquarters' office address is listed as being in Jongno, Seoul, it is understood within the industry that Temu's official office presence in Korea has yet to be established.

The firm's Korean public relations agency claimed to be unaware of the existence of either Whale Co., Korea Limited, or an individual named Qin Sun.

"We have not heard from our client (Temu) on any plans regarding the establishment of a Korean corporation, and we are awaiting any official messages or requests on the matter," said the agency official Tuesday morning.

Pinduoduo, established in 2015, launched the e-commerce app Temu in 2020, quickly securing the top spot in the US app store.

Since entering the Korean market in July last year, Temu has steadily expanded its user base here.

As of February, Temu boasted 5.81 million users, ranking fourth among e-commerce shopping apps in Korea, according to retail data collecting firm WiseApp.

On March 26, Temu and several other foreign e-commerce companies were notified by the Korean Fair Trade Commission to appoint a designated domestic agent. The potential agent would be tasked with directly addressing inquiries and resolving issues that arise with Korean consumers within their respective firms.

While AliExpress currently has a Korean office in Seoul, Temu does not, resulting in government investigations being conducted solely through written inquiries rather than direct meetings with representatives.

Regarding Temu’s approach to the Korean market, an official from a competing e-commerce firm suggested that Temu may be attempting to quietly gain traction in Korea.

"With fierce competition between Coupang and AliExpress in Korea, Temu seems to be intervening in the market with a more subdued approach, opting for subtle marketing tactics over an overt market entry strategy," the official said. "This may explain why Temu's Korean corporation has remained relatively discreet since its registration over a month ago."