Grabbing a cab in Korea can sometimes be considered hard. Sometimes you’ll be standing outside for what seems like forever before you’ll finally take a cab that’ll take you. And the reasons are various. These fickle Korean taxi drivers have a number of reasons they’ll refuse you. And here’s why!
Seoul Insider Tip! It’s against the law to refuse customers for Korean taxi drivers, but most people don’t report them because (we think) it’s just a hassle and it’s just better to wait for a cab that’ll take them. And recently, Korean taxi drivers have gotten better in terms of following the rules (but just in case, here’s how not to get ripped off by Korean taxi drivers), but there’s still some that will refuse you! Here’s why:
Note: This post refers to the busiest areas of Seoul (usually on weekend nights after the trains have stopped running). Less busy areas will usually not have a reason to not take you (they’re looking for business in a dead area!). But the busier areas of Seoul with the numerous people that need to take taxis home (mostly Koreans that enjoy drinking) give the taxi drivers the power to pick and choose!
Some Korean taxi drivers will refuse to take passengers because it’s not worth their time. If the total distance doesn’t exceed the base pay (기본요금), then some taxi drivers will think it’s a waste of gas. That’s why some cab drivers will ask before you get in where you’re going (this plus reason #2). If it’s not far enough, tough luck! And since it’s a hassle to report (even for you!), the best way to deal with this is to just wait till the next cab. (Or walk!)
Tip: If you do find a taxi driver that will take you a short distance, don’t take the change! Tip isn’t expected in Korea, so telling the cabbie to keep the change would be well appreciated. It’s a small thank you for taking him for such a short distance and not offering more business. In addition to this, here’s a couple of other ways to make a good impression in Korea!
Some Korean taxi drivers will ask before you get in if you’re going to a certain place. If you’re not, “sorry… next!” The reason is some cabs are based out of different cities or suburbs. So sometimes, taxi drivers from the outskirts of Seoul will end up in Seoul and want a customer on the way back to the areas they’re based in (just so they’re not wasting money on gas going back home alone). Also, they usually don’t like taking people from one part of Seoul to another (unless it’s on their way home). These Korean taxi drivers can be pickier than a kid who hates vegetables!
Tip: If you’re from a Seoul suburb (i.e. Bundang, Ilsan, Anyang, etc.) look for cars that are from your area. You can do this by reading the license plates of the cars (if you read Korean). The license plates aren’t very specific (they usually say Seoul or Gyeonggi, the province surrounding Seoul where all the Seoul suburbs are), but if you live in Gyeonggi province, you’ll know which cars are for you!
Sometimes if it’s a busy night for taxi drivers and people are lining up for cabs, some Korean taxi drivers will take advantage of the situation and try to cram as many customers as they can in their cars. So if you get in, sometimes Korean cab drivers (typically those from Seoul suburbs) will tell you to wait until he can round up more customers that are going in the same direction as you (sometimes 30minutes or more!). This way the cabbie can get more fares just for a single trip. This is obviously illegal, but when you have to go home and it’s a tough night to find cabs, take our advice, take what you can get!
When it rains, Seoul taxi drivers have the power. The reason is, no one likes to get wet, so people that normally don’t take cabs will take them on rainy days. This basically all equals jackpot for Korean cabbies: they have so many customers that they can pick and choose who they want to take. So basically anything on this list is a viable reason. But the rain just gives them a reason to employ any of em! Unfair!
Sometimes Korean cabbies will not take foreigners simply because they can’t understand them. More than a racist thing, it’s basically a “can I communicate how/where to go” thing. If you’re staying at a major hotel, or you’re going somewhere recognizable (i.e. subway stations), it’s usually no problem. The problem usually comes in when you’re pronouncing something 28 times and the taxi driver still doesn’t understand. So a lot of times, many Seoul taxi drivers will be apologetic and ask you to take the next available (and better at English) taxi.
(Image source, thanks!)
It’s illegal to take more than 4 passengers (the same number of seat belts). And although they’re don’t always follow all the laws, this one most Seoul taxi drivers are pretty concerned with. That’s because policemen can see in the car and see that they’re breaking the law, and the headache of paperwork and fines is just not worth it to them. Some Seoul cabbies are willing to take the risk (they’re doing you a favor), and some just flat out say no. So if you’re in a group of 5 or more, and you can’t find a a cab that’ll take the risk for you, split up!
Tip: Many Korean taxi drivers will refuse but can be swayed by the power of egyo (kinda joking, but no… kinda real too ;)).
Umm… This one is pretty obvious. We don’t think you need an explanation, but since we like you, here’s a brief one in bullet format anyway ;).
Tip: So, uh… don’t be too drunk, haha :). However, if you are, maybe it’s too much to take a cab home. Try passing out for a bit at the nearest DVD Bang (not sure what that is? Check it out here). Or try sobering up a bit with these Korean Hangover cures (many of which are offered 24/7!)
Do taxi drivers refuse customers where you’re from? Have any experiences with Seoul taxis refusing you? Write a comment and let us know! 😀