In May, Park, a former member of a labor rights coalition for young part-time workers, and other food delivery workers formed the Rider Union. On Nov. 18, Seoul Metropolitan Government granted it legal status ― a first for a platform workers’ union.

“Referring to previous court or administrative decisions, we concluded there was sufficient reason to see Rider Union members as formal employees of food delivery app providers,” Jung Sang-dae, a city official, said in a phone interview. “The platform firms use a pre-set contract to unilaterally impose a specific profit-sharing scheme on the delivery workers, whose labor is crucial to the companies’ business model. From a holistic view, we can see there is an economic, systematic and subordinate relationship between the platforms and delivery workers.”