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The Fate of Seoul Taxi Drivers and Other Kinds of Labor
« on: June 13, 2019, 02:40:39 pm »
There is currently a lot of debate regarding ride-sharing and taxi drivers. People have long complained about taxi service in Seoul and cab drivers feel their livelihoods are in danger. So far 4 have set themselves on fire, with 3 perishing.

I think most of us are familiar with the issue in general. The question is- What should be done? What can be done? Is this just inevitable?

As I pointed out on the R/V thread (I ruined it for a few days, sorry), repeated self-immolations tend to be harbingers of serious unrest.  Is there something brewing here? We've already seen protectionism and populism gain force across the Western world. Is Korea about to experience its own populist wave?

As far as ideas, I think most of us will be anti-taxi. The only thing I'd say is, given the drastic steps being taken by some, I'd caution against flippant or superficial answers. Saying "Whatever, F em."  and then a couple years later wondering why riots are happening or a wave of xenophobia sweeps the nation seems to not be the way to go. Nor is "Tax the rich" (without more specifics). Job re-training probably won't cut it either.

https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20190515001751315


  • zola
  • The Legend

    • 2742

    • September 30, 2012, 06:56:11 am
    • Korea
Re: The Fate of Seoul Taxi Drivers and Other Kinds of Labor
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2019, 03:00:31 pm »
It's not just us (foreigners) that are "anti-taxi". Most Koreans say exactly the same stuff we do. There were vox pops on the news last week and the majority said typical complaints you might read here.

If the situation for taxi drivers is so perilous and dire, then they should recognize the massive popular dissatisfaction with their service and do something about it. I'm not pro-uber. I think the gig economy is one of the worst things to happen to workers in generations. Fuckin gross. But you can't just give taxi drivers carte blanche to do what they want, lest they set themselves on fire.

I think this is a separate issue to the wider erosion of certain kinds of jobs and increasing automation.
Kpip! - Martin 2018


  • leaponover
  • Expert Waygook

    • 506

    • March 05, 2012, 12:08:16 pm
    • Iksan, S. Korea
Re: The Fate of Seoul Taxi Drivers and Other Kinds of Labor
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2019, 03:20:37 pm »
I'll honestly never understand the  draw of using Uber or some other thing like that in Korea.  You see the stories everywhere of people getting their items back after leaving them behind in a taxi.  Doubt the return rate is that high on Uber.  Secondly, taxis are already out driving around....why do I want to wait for an Uber.  When I call for a taxi it's usually 3-5 minutes away.  Lastly,  Most taxis will know the city way better than an Uber.  While they are fiddling with their GPS the taxis almost there.

Now granted, I don't live in Seoul....so I can't attest to anything about that.  In my city of about 450k, Taxis are simple, easy and convenient.  I can't imagine Uber or Lyft making a dent in that.

Good topic for discussion though!

By the way, can I volunteer some teachers to set themselves on fire to try to change the school test contents?


Re: The Fate of Seoul Taxi Drivers and Other Kinds of Labor
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2019, 03:22:42 pm »
It's not just us (foreigners) that are "anti-taxi". Most Koreans say exactly the same stuff we do. There were vox pops on the news last week and the majority said typical complaints you might read here.

If the situation for taxi drivers is so perilous and dire, then they should recognize the massive popular dissatisfaction with their service and do something about it. I'm not pro-uber. I think the gig economy is one of the worst things to happen to workers in generations. Fuckin gross. But you can't just give taxi drivers carte blanche to do what they want, lest they set themselves on fire.

I think this is a separate issue to the wider erosion of certain kinds of jobs and increasing automation.

Yeah. Regardless of whether or not taxis are mostly bad, or only a small percentage of them are bad, or whatever, in my opinion, the bigger issue is why taxi drivers should be afforded protection that other workers whose jobs are threatened (or gone) don't receive. Which they shouldn't be.

Waygook.org user zola said that the gig economy is terrible. It is. It really is. It is a massive step back for workers and a huge boon to the employers who can pay fewer people to do more work with fewer benefits. But, unfortunately, it exists, and it's a threat to a lot of professions that have typically been extremely secure. 

But I completely agree with him that entirely too much protection is being given to taxi drivers while absolutely zero is given to millions of other workers in similar (or worse) situations.


  • pkjh
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1542

    • May 02, 2012, 02:59:44 pm
Re: The Fate of Seoul Taxi Drivers and Other Kinds of Labor
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2019, 04:19:43 pm »
I'll honestly never understand the  draw of using Uber or some other thing like that in Korea.  You see the stories everywhere of people getting their items back after leaving them behind in a taxi.  Doubt the return rate is that high on Uber.  Secondly, taxis are already out driving around....why do I want to wait for an Uber.  When I call for a taxi it's usually 3-5 minutes away.  Lastly,  Most taxis will know the city way better than an Uber.  While they are fiddling with their GPS the taxis almost there.

Now granted, I don't live in Seoul....so I can't attest to anything about that.  In my city of about 450k, Taxis are simple, easy and convenient.  I can't imagine Uber or Lyft making a dent in that.

Good topic for discussion though!

By the way, can I volunteer some teachers to set themselves on fire to try to change the school test contents?
The taxi service in the smaller towns is much friendlier. While a cab in Seoul will be whining that you want to go like 2km down the road, a cabbie in a smaller town will take you 2 meters after making sure you really want to go 2 meters in the guy's cab.


  • NorthStar
  • Expert Waygook

    • 501

    • July 05, 2017, 10:54:06 am
    • Seoul
Re: The Fate of Seoul Taxi Drivers and Other Kinds of Labor
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2019, 05:12:37 pm »
Compared to the shit-bag taxi drivers in Thailand (and Vietnam, to an extend)...I am perfectly fine with the ones in Korea. 


  • grey
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1511

    • April 08, 2011, 04:47:11 am
    • USA
    more
Re: The Fate of Seoul Taxi Drivers and Other Kinds of Labor
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2019, 06:28:08 pm »
I'm lukewarm to Thai and Vietnamese taxi drivers, but using Grab in either country is far superior to taxis in Korea.
Ko fills half his luggage with instant noodles for his international business travels, a lesson he learned after assuming on his first trip that three packages would suffice for six days. “Man, was I wrong. Since then, I always make sure I pack enough.”
-AP


  • NorthStar
  • Expert Waygook

    • 501

    • July 05, 2017, 10:54:06 am
    • Seoul
Re: The Fate of Seoul Taxi Drivers and Other Kinds of Labor
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2019, 06:53:27 pm »
I'm lukewarm to Thai and Vietnamese taxi drivers, but using Grab in either country is far superior to taxis in Korea.

OK...having the Grab option in Thailand and Vietnam are a plus....especially the motos.  The normal taxi drivers are crap-bags and it is always a bad experience. 

I rarely have a bad experience with the Korean drivers. Occasionally and it is rare, I'll get a window-licker for a driver, or someone who will try and keep the change.  But, again....rare. 


  • gogators!
  • The Legend

    • 3721

    • March 16, 2016, 04:35:48 pm
    • Seoul
Re: The Fate of Seoul Taxi Drivers and Other Kinds of Labor
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2019, 07:52:56 pm »
Agree with Zola. In the case of Seoul taxis, the city could better regulate them in exchange for certain protections. But the gig economy as a whole is a knife in the back of workers and wouldn't have caught on the way it has except for the 2008 Great Recession.