Taxi fare increased in Seoul, South Korea from Feb. 16, 2019

A taxi driver in Seoul earns an average of 2.13 million won (S$2,562) per month.

Kayla Wong | February 20, 2019, 12:49 AM

The cost of getting around Seoul, South Korea, got a bit pricier starting on Saturday, Feb. 16.

This was after a taxi fare hike was introduced after months of deliberation.

The price hike took effect from 4am, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced of the impending increase on Feb. 11.

Price hike

The base fare for regular taxis rose by 27 percent from 3,000 won (S$3.61) to 3,800 won (S$4.57).

A regular taxi in Seoul. Most of them are orange in colour, while some white and grey ones can also be found. (Image via The Seoul Guide)

Basic late-night fares from midnight to 4am increased as well -- from 3,600 won (S$4.33) to 4,600 won (S$5.53).

Meters will rise faster too.

Under the previous fare system, 100 won (S$0.12) is charged with every 142 metres travelled.

An additional 100 won (S$0.12) is also charged every 35 seconds if the taxi goes slower than 15km per hour.

However, under the new fare system, with every 132 metres travelled, 100 won (S$0.12) is charged.

And if the taxi goes slower than 15 kilometres per hour, the 100 won (S$0.12) charge is added for every 32 seconds.

Here are the fare changes laid out in a table.

Table via Seoul Metropolitan Government

From Feb. 16 to March 2, the meters installed in 70,000 taxis will be updated.

To inform passengers of the new fares, fare tables like the following can be found inside the taxis during this period.

Image via Ladyironchef's Facebook page

This is the first hike in six years since the base fare was fixed at 3,000 won (S$3.60) in October 2013.

As for jumbo and deluxe taxis, their base fare went up by 1,500 won (S$1.80) to 6,500 won (S$7.80).

A jumbo taxi can seat up to eight or nine people. (Image via Korea Taxi Service)

A deluxe taxi is black with a gold strip. It costs the same as a jumbo taxi. (Image via Kojects)

Move by Seoul government to raise taxi drivers' wages

The move was introduced by the Seoul Metropolitan Government to raise the wages of taxi drivers, reported The Korea Times.

A taxi driver in Seoul currently takes home an average amount of 2.13 million won (S$2,562) per month, according to the local government.

This means that the average amount earned by taxi drivers in an hour (should they work 12 hours a day for six days a week) is under the country's 7,530 won (S$9.06) minimum wage.

Seoul Metropolitan Government deems that each taxi driver should earn at least 500,000 won (S$601.40) more each month in order to lead a 'decent' life in Seoul.

Korean taxi drivers' war against ride-sharing services

In December 2018, up to 100,000 South Korean taxi drivers held a massive rally in front of the National Assembly.

Screenshot via Asian Boss/YouTube

It was the third major rally since the first one in Octber 2018.

According to the Financial Times, the protests were sparked by the death of a 57-year-old taxi driver who set himself on fire to protest against the launch of a ride-sharing service, Kakao Mobility.

Kakao, the Internet company that owns the country's largest and most popular messaging app, then postponed the launch of the service.

The launch was supposed to take place in the following week.

However, this was not enough to placate the unionised taxi drivers, who view such ride-sharing services as a threat to their livelihood.

Barely a month later, another taxi driver, aged 64, burned himself to death.

The protests present a challenge to the government, who are eager to promote start-ups as the country's export-driven economy cools amidst the weakening competitiveness of large, traditional conglomerates against cheaper Chinese rivals.

However, due to South Korea's strict regulations, the majority of the world's top start-ups, such as Uber and Airbnb, face difficulties in gaining a foothold in the country.

Top image via Ryoji Iwata/Unsplash