Estonia and South Korea are forming a digital dream team

Estonia and South Korea are moving closer together digitally, despite being half a world away physically.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid today officially opened the first e-Residency Collection Centre in Seoul, while agreeing new trade and technology links with South Korea.

The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board’s first e-Residency Collection Centre will enable Korean entrepreneurs to more easily enter the EU market without leaving the country.

If successful, the project can be expanded in future to more locations around the world where there is currently demand for e-Residency, but difficulty reaching an existing pick up location.

President Kaljulaid met with the Governor of Gyeonggi province, Nam Kyung-Pil, and his officials. to agree the co-operation.

In support of this new opportunity, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid also agreed a Memorandum of Understanding at the event today to promote inter-regional cooperation in technology and business between the Republic of Estonia and Gyeonggi Province, which is home to Pangyo Techno Valley.

The agreement includes co-operation to connect entrepreneurs, develop blockchain technology, and provide employment opportunities for each other’s specialists in IT and other industries with the support of Work in Estonia.

President Kaljulaid also met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a meeting yesterday in which they agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation between Estonia and South Korea in various areas, including cyber defense and fostering startup businesses.

Speaking at the official opening of the e-Residency Collection Centre in Seoul, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid explained:

“Our countries have developed a strong friendship based on mutual values, our enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and our love of technology. We are already world leaders together in innovation and partners in the D5 group of advanced digital nations, but the world is changing fast and we can still benefit so much more from each other. That’s why we are now deepening our friendship and becoming business partners too.
“While supporting entrepreneurs, the state must also embrace innovation and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. The Estonian Police and Border Guard has shown a great example of this by opening their first e-Residency Collection Centre, which will help scale up our country globally by better serving entrepreneurs in Korea and around the world in the digital era.”
President Kaljulaid also visited the Europe Business Center in Gyeonggi and met with entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs in Gyeonggi will now be encouraged to enter the European market through e-Residency, while Estonian and e-resident entrepreneurs will be encouraged to enter the Asian market with the help of Gyeonggi. In addition, the private sector in Estonia and Gyeonggi will be encouraged to conduct exchanges.

President Kaljulaid was given a tour of Gyeonggi province, which is home to Pangyo Techno Valley.

What is e-Residency?

Estonia is the first country in the world to launch e-Residency, a secure digital identity that provides access to e-services in the country, such as those provided or international service providers. This enables e-residents to establish and manage a trusted EU company entirely online.

Until now, e-residents have had to collect their digital ID cards from an Estonian Embassy, which meant Korean entrepreneurs had to travel abroad to receive their digital ID cards.

All applications are subject to background checks by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board before a decision is made to grant e-Residency. They have opened the e-Residency Collection Centre by partnering with VFS Global, which ordinarily provides visa services for partner countries.

The Governor of Gyeonggi province, Nam Kyung-Pil, is also now an e-resident and was handed his digital ID card by President Kaljulaid.

There are now almost 30,000 e-residents from 143 countries.

In anticipation of the e-Residency Collection Centre being opened in Seoul, approximately 300 applications for e-Residency have been received from Korea so far this year, which is more than the number received in the first three years of the programme.

You can learn more about how the e-Residency Collection Centre was made possible — and what happens next — from Mai Selke at the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board in the next article on the e-Residency blog:

Learn more about e-Residency at e-resident.gov.ee.

Like what you read? Give Adam Rang a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.