Taxi drivers on strike against new ride-sharing service
Carpooling, or ride-sharing, helps people save money by splitting the costs of transportation.
But this innovative shared-economy platform, which thrives in some countries, has faced a backlash in the Korean market.
A large scale demonstration was held by the nation's taxi unions.
Won Jung-hwan went to hear directly from the angry protesters.
These are the fierce chants of more than 30-thousand taxi drivers at Seoul's Gwanghwamun Square.
Korea's taxi labor unions have gathered from across the country to protest against the latest product from one of the nation's biggest web companies,... and nearly half of the capital's taxi drivers went on a strike for 24 hours starting Thursday at 4AM.
The demonstration comes after Kakao Mobility, a car-sharing company, started recruiting drivers on Tuesday for the launch of a carpool service.
The taxi drivers say it will take a major toll on their business and steal their jobs.
"We cannot tolerate big corporations encroaching on our market. We will fight to the end for our right to survive."
Kakao, however, claims the service will fill a need at certain times of the day and night, like rush hour, when there aren't enough taxis. Also, its user-friendly interface will be easy for consumers to access and a ride will be slightly cheaper than taxi fares.
But the taxi drivers are skeptical.
"There is no way the government or other authorities can fully enforce the rules on time. We simply cannot believe that."
"There are some 260-thousand taxis in the country, and we carry 5 million passengers per day. If Kakao recruits 2 million drivers,… we'll have no one to pick up."
The standoff has reignited the controversy over how Korea should implement the "shared economy" business model that has struggled to take root.
"The government has been reviewing measures aimed at improving taxi services and expanding carpooling ventures, but the longer it takes to find a middle-ground between the two parties, the more consumers could end up losing out.
Won Jung-hwan, Arirang News."