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(LEAD) Cabbie in apparent self-immolation protest dies

All Headlines 12:15 January 10, 2019

(ATTN: ADD more info about victim's suicide note, taxi industry's reactions in paras 5-8)

SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- A cabbie presumed to have set himself and his taxi on fire in another apparent suicide protest over a planned commercial ride-sharing service, died in hospital early Thursday, police said.

A sedan taxi near Gwanghwamun Station in central Seoul caught fire on Wednesday night. The driver, only identified by the last name Lim, was moved from his vehicle with severe burns on much of his body.

Lim's death is the second case in which a taxi driver apparently killed himself to protest the carpool service. Last month, a 57-year-old taxi driver from Seoul set himself ablaze in protest against Kakao T.

Police have raised the possibility of self-immolation by the 64-year-old, in protest of the planned launch of Kakao T, a carpooling app created by a unit of major South Korean IT company Kakao Corp.

Police found flammable materials and a burned notebook believed to be Lim's diary inside the car, they said, adding that an investigation is under way to determine the exact cause of the fire.

Officials at a taxi labor union later claimed that Lim left a four-page suicide note for his family.

It apparently included statements objecting to the carpool service and that he was under stress making a living as a taxi driver.

Union representatives plan to hold a press conference near the National Assembly later in the day over the incident, according to the officials. Some taxi drivers have called for a boycott of the current Kakao cab-hailng app.

The local taxi industry has strongly opposed the service's market release, claiming the application will kill their businesses. Thousands of taxi drivers have staged three sit-in strikes in recent months, calling on the government to take measures to stop its launch.

The company has since decided to delay the launch of its formal service due to objections from taxi drivers.

This photo, provided by Seoul's Jongno Fire Station near Gwanghwanun Station on Jan. 10, 2019, captures a taxi being engulfed in a blaze while firefighters approach the scene to put out the fire. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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