Eastern city selected as regulation-free zone to incubate drone-related businesses

By Park Sae-jin Posted : July 3, 2023, 15:13 Updated : July 3, 2023, 15:13
Drones perform an aerial show in Wonju. [YONHAP PHOTO]
Drones perform an aerial show in Wonju. [YONHAP PHOTO]

SEOUL -- The eastern city of Wonju has been selected as the drone regulation-free zone for two consecutive years, providing opportunities for the city with a population of some 333,000 people to incubate and nurture drone-related businesses and technology.
Drones are now widely used in various sectors including the military, surveillance, building structure inspection, and entertainment. The global market for drones is growing at an average annual growth rate of 42.78 percent to stand at $232.8 billion, according to global market research firm Fortune Business Insights.
However, the usage of drones in South Korea is very limited, especially in urban areas where most of the aerial space is designated as a no-fly zone. Regulations are very strict on the operation of drones and related services. In some parts of South Korea, drones are being tested for deliveries of food, medicine, and other daily necessities for people dwelling in remote areas. Because of the regulations, it is hard for companies to test and demonstrate drone technologies and services in South Korea.
In order to create an environment for drone technology developers and provide them with areas for test flights and demonstrations, the South Korean government and provincial governments have set up a handful of regulation-free zones for drone operators. Developers are able to demonstrate and try new technologies in the regulation-exempt zones.
Wonju City said that two city areas some 90 kilometers (55 miles) east of Seoul were selected by the transport ministry as regulation-free drone test zones. For the next two years, the areas will be used for demonstrating drone-based crop dusting, parcel delivery, pest control, and snow clearing.
"We will attract new drone companies and provide full support to nurture good companies which would lead the future aerial mobility industry," Wonju Mayor Won Kang-soo said in a statement on July 3. 
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