Assaulted by a Cab Driver in Korea? Here's what to do

Taxi driver manhandles passenger and chases him to the street in Gangnam
My current research allows me little room to spare for my own personal time but for someone who always needs to find friends to talk to and to drink couple of pints with, it can be a very daunting proposition of not being able to do so. Instead, the little pockets of hours I have in between work and sleep and work and sleep, I squeeze in some time to socialize with people I was used to seeing throughout my undergraduate years. 

And by these "pocket of hours" I mean post 11pm when work does finally wear on me. This often means that I will be out of home well past the last subway and that I have to resort to taxis to get me home. While these aren't cheap, they aren't expensive either. So when you are left with either walking back or taking a ride back home, you wouldn't be as crazy as this one nepali guy who tried to walk all the way from itewon back to his lab one day (card didnt work, stupid woori bank). 

Horrible, horrible idea. That guy had to go buy a new pair of shoe the next day. 

I have, throughout my stay here, never ran into trouble with taxi drivers here in Seoul. Usually there are some who don't understand your korean or some who refuse to take you to some destination you desperately need to go, but a recent incident has made me think a bit about how taxi drivers here see foreigners and unfortunately, at worst of times, take advantage of the soul fact that we are here in Korea and not in our respective countries. 

While taking a taxi from Gangnam back to BK international, we happened to be on the wrong lane and while explaining to the driver that we wanted to go Seoul National and not the current way, well, he got pissed off. Instead just taking a U turn and taking us where we want him to, he started grumbling to himself and stopped at the nearest junction. He wanted us to get off after paying the minimum fare.

Now if we look at this situation, the taxi driver had already broken the law by refusing to take passengers to their destination, asking money on top of that didn't go well with us (200,000 won fine from October 2013). So we used some very understandable and clear korean slang and proceeded to get out when suddenly the taxi driver nonchalantly proceeded to break another law by manhandling my friend sitting at the back. One thing I really don't like is when people misbehave with my friends and I jumped right in to break free. As we finally got off the taxi, things got only worse.

The taxi driver grabbed my friend again, then started pretending to get hit to create this huge melodrama on the street, called on the other taxi drivers for support and by the time we got sense of what was happening, the police had already arrived. Next thing we know we are inside the police car as fugitives (and getting an earful reminder that this is not our country) heading straight to the police station. All we ever wanted to do was to go home, and here we were seating warming the cold, worn out police seat.

Our version in Korean, that's the longest Korean story I have written for a while (left)
This is where things got a little interesting. While both sides had to file complaints about what actually had happened and the police went about their usual business, we had the eerie sense that the police, in fact, were desperately finding a way to tell us that we should just pay off taxi driver a considerable sum and just get about our way. Or spend the night at the station and go to court. Long story short, after the police and the driver realized that my friend wasn't exactly a typical foreigner, we were allowed to leave. By the time I hit my bed, it was 5 am. 

I am possibly the most non-spontaneous guy you can probably find, and for most of things in life, I have to think ahead and prepare. I get really pissed off with myself when I don't and fall for situations where I didn't perceive before but now having gone through this, I have prepared a certain mindset on how I should approach a situation like this, if ever, it so befalls on my head again. 

If you would like, you could too.

1. Knowing the law doesn't really help but it sure does no harm: Just by the fact that the taxi driver broke to clear laws meant that whatever we had to present to the police made them reevaluate the situation and also meant that we didn't loose our ground. 

2. Using your phone: First thing, I realized later on, that I should have done instead of trying to physically get involved was to just take out my phone and film it from the very beginning. Yes your friend is getting assaulted but if you do happen to have hard evidence that the person was manhandling you or your friend, it is going to help your side much more.
The police did check the videos we took

3. Taxi number and the name: While taxi numbers are often taken for granted, one thing one can do is to get his id and name from the front seat. If you ever do seat in the front seat, you can see his id being pasted right in front of you. My hot head didn't really see anything but the bizarre scene of taxi driver going absolutely nuts. 

4. Getting help: It sure pays to know some people in this country who know the law better and are in a position to help, so if you know someone who knows someone and who can do something about it, all the better. 

He should learn how to put his hands like that more often.
For once, he thought he honestly hit the jackpot there
If you search the net, you will find that this is not an isolated incident and there have been cases where the victim actually had to escape the country just to avoid prosecution while evidence suggests that, it was, in fact the taxi driver's indecent behavior that led to that accident. Strange, gold digging taxi drivers, these lot. 

One thing that really stuck with after all this was..well, this wasn't my country and no matter how much I pretend that I am sublimely adjusted to this foreign land, there are always things that remind I that I am, in fact, very far away from home. 

My only regret for the night, well, I should have just gone on to try that Irish red ale. Things would have been much different.  


  1. In the same boat. Were the charges dropped? What was the outcome?

  2. Btw....u should blur out that guys face or u might be sued for defamation bullshit.

  3. yeah all charges dropped!
    alright, will update it soon


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