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Taxi drivers begin sit-in in protest of commercial carpool service

All News 17:09 December 12, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- Representatives of taxi industry bodies began Wednesday to stage a sit-in protest in Seoul against the planned launch of a ride-sharing service by a local information technology enterprise.

Members of the Korea Taxi Labor Union Federation and three other taxi industry bodies set up an altar inside a tent in front of the National Assembly as they held a memorial to pay tribute to a taxi driver who died after self-immolating on Monday in an apparent bid to protest the riding service.

The driver, identified only as 57-year-old with the surname Choi, sprinkled flammable materials on his body while inside his car and committed self-immolation in front of the Assembly's entrance.

The incident came amid the planned launch of Kakao T Carpool, a ride-sharing service designed to connect ordinary drivers to passengers during the morning and evening rush hours. Kakao Mobility Corp., a transportation affiliate of Kakao Corp. ,the top mobile messaging company, had planned to set the service in motion starting next Monday.

Representatives from four major taxi industrial bodies chant slogans during a rally in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Dec. 12, 2017, to protest against the planned launch of a ride-sharing service by a transportation affiliate of Kakao Corp., South Korea's top mobile messaging company. (Yonhap)

An organizer of the sit-in by the industrial bodies said, "will begin an indefinite rally to remember the martyr Choi who rose up against the illegal carpool business by burning his precious life."

Kang Shin-pyo, leader of the taxi labor union federation, accused the government of shifting away from labor-friendly policies toward policies that favor the nation's family-run business conglomerates, called chaebol.

"The government is dragging its feet in coming up with measures against the carpool business and pushing taxi drivers to death," Kang claimed.

The industrial bodies plan to stage a large-scale rally involving 100,000 people on Dec. 20 to voice their objection over the issue.

On Wednesday, police found four sheets of paper carrying what appeared to be a will at a bench in a Seoul park that a taxi driver is believed to have written in an apparent suicide to express objection to the carpool service.

The Gangbuk Police Station received an emergency call, which said the papers were found around 12:36 p.m. The apparent will carried a statement claiming that its author possesses enough explosives to blow up the National Assembly.

The police are searching the park with taxi drivers in an attempt to confirm who wrote it.


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