SEOUL, Feb. 15 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of unicorns in South Korea reached an all-time high in 2021 amid state support for promising startups, data showed Tuesday.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy had 18 unicorns as of end-December last year, up from 13 a year earlier, according to the data from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups.
It was also sharply up from three in 2017.
A unicorn is an unlisted startup with a valuation of US$1 billion or more. The number of unicorns serves as a yardstick of a country’s ecosystem for startups.
Online grocery delivery platform Market Kurly and six other firms were newly added to the list last year, while e-commerce giant Coupang Inc. and Krafton Inc., a South Korean gaming giant behind the global smash hit “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG), were excluded.
Coupang was listed on the U.S. Nasdaq market last year, with Krafton making its debut on South Korea’s main stock market.
According to industry sources, South Korea ranks 10th in the world in terms of unicorn numbers. The United States has the largest number with 489, followed by China with 171 and India with 53.