Taxi woes in late night Seoul

Anyone living in Seoul knows that taxis will frequently ignore passengers late at night. According to data reported by The Korea Times, Hongdae (홍대) ranks in first place in terms of people lodging complaints of this very issue:

Gangnam was next with 1,647 complaints. Then followed Jongno (1133), Yeouido (817), Sinchon (798), Itaewon (699), Konkuk University Station (611), Dongdaemun (530), Yeoksam (395) and Yeongdeongpo Station (281).

Last weekend, after visiting a friend’s apartment in Idae (이대), I attempted to catch a cab. Despite being passed by many open cabs, it took around one full hour to successfully find one. I was not going very far: Sinchon (신촌) to Dangsan (당산동), which is a little under 5 kilometers away.

People should know that this behavior is illegal:


Taxi drivers who refuse passengers can be fined 200,000 won ($180) for the first offense and 400,000 won, with a 30-day license suspension, for a second. Drivers can lose their taxi license and be fined 600,000 won if caught three times in two years. […]

Drivers who refuse to take passengers can be reported by calling 120 and pressing 9 for the foreign language service. Languages available are English, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Mongolian.

I was passed over by a number of cabs that were labeled “빈차”, which means that they were not occupied. However, I was also approached by at least a half dozen cabs labeled “예약”, which is supposed to be used when a cab is reserved. These unscrupulous drivers would ask me where I am going before rejecting me because of the distance. That is illegal, although I did not think to take down their information and report them.

On this blog, as well as on Miguk Minute, I have stood up for workers’ rights. Cab drivers deserve a fair wage. However, taxis also play a vital role in most cities’ public transportation systems. I am glad to see the Seoul Metropolitan Government cracking down on late night ride discrimination, as well as KakaoTaxi shenanigans.