“Many Koreans paying rents with extra income from Airbnb” Airbnb introduces its contribution to Korea to the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in

On Wednesday, June 28th, Courtney O’Donnell, Airbnb’s Strategic Engagements and Planning Lead, discussed Airbnb’s positive impact on South Korea with President Moon Jae-in. Speaking at the U.S.-Korea Business Summit, held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C, she said: “[Airbnb is a platform that] creates opportunity for those alienated from traditional economic structures.”

At the Roundtable meeting before the U.S.-Korea Business Summit, Korean and American business leaders operating in Korea discussed various business, regulatory, and economic issues with President Moon.

Korean business representatives include Park Yong-maan (Chairman of Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Chairman of Doosan Infracore), Choi Tae-won (Chairman of SK Corporation), Kwon Oh-Hyun (Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics), and 7 others.

American business leaders were Myron Brilliant (Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), Tami Overby (Senior Vice President for Asia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce), Paul Jacobs (Chairman of the U.S.-Korea Business Council and Chairman of Qualcomm Inc.), Jamie Dimon (Chairman, President, and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co), and 5 others along with Courtney O’Donnell (Strategic Engagements and Planning Lead of Airbnb).


The following is Courtney’s Speech to President Moon:

On behalf of Airbnb, I would like to thank President Moon Jae-in (Jayne) and our hosts for inviting us to join this significant event. It’s an honor.

Nearly a decade ago, Airbnb was founded as a home sharing site to help two of our founders pay their rent. What started out as a solution to a financial issue has become an online platform where people living in 65,000 cities and over 190 countries connect and enjoy travel experiences and cultural connections.

Korea has a rich heritage and homestay culture such as Min Bak – that is at the heart of everything we believe in at Airbnb – this hospitality that makes every visitor feel at home. Korea’s tourism industry is expanding, and Korea is one of Airbnb’s most popular and fastest growing markets. In 2016, over 1 million travelers visited Korea using Airbnb, doubling the number from the previous year.

With the increase in travelers, we’ve seen over 10,000 Korean hosts join the Airbnb platform – bringing new economic opportunity to those who would not have accessed it before. In 2016, the Airbnb community in Korea generated over 500 Billion Won in economic activity across the country, while enabling guests to experience the warmth of Korean culture. We’ve heard many stories from our Korean hosts that they are able to pay their rent by sharing a room on Airbnb. Rural communities are welcoming homestay guests. And young people are even launching businesses to help an older generation of hosts better use technology to communicate and take reservations.

We’re proud to be partners with Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture in promoting rural tourism, home sharing, and local economies. We have also signed multiple partnerships with cities in Korea, including one with the Governor of Chungnam province to boost rural tourism and an agreement with Gangwon province to help Gangwon province to have more fascinating local lodgings as Gangwon province will host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President Moon, it is an honor to be a platform that connects Koreans with the people of the world and creates opportunity for those alienated from traditional economic structures. We ask that you enable even more Korean citizens and communities the chance to participate in this source of income generation and cultural connectivity in this era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

We look forward to visiting Korea once again in September and to engaging in deeper conversations around the opportunities to work together in ways that contribute to the social and economic success of your country.

Thank you again.


Airbnb in Korea (as of December, 2016)
Number of Guest Arrivals: 1,010,000
Number of Hosts: 9,800

[South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, at the U.S-Korea Business Summit in Washington, D.C. ]


[Airbnb’s Strategic Engagements and Planning Lead Courtney O’Donnell (left) & South Korean President Moon Jae-in (right) holding hands after Airbnb’s speech on its impact on Korea]


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