Motor-Driven, These Scooters Provide an Out In Traffic Jams

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Motor-Driven, These Scooters Provide an Out In Traffic Jams

Koreans, especially those in Seoul, a city notorious for its world-class traffic jams, have found a new way to get around that's fun, efficient and, most of all, faster.

Instead of being cooped up in stuffy automobiles for hours, slowly inching their way through the gridlock, these traffic daredevils prefer zipping along speedily and breezily on mini-motorscooters.

Mini-motorscooters, which first hit the market last March, are motorized versions of the new breed of children's scooters, those ubiquitous two-wheeled, portable vehicles with handlebars that have been so popular for the past couple of years. The scooters, now called kickboards, zoomed in popularity among young people because of their low price and ease of use. The children's scooters only cost about 100,000 won ($75), but they are limited because they are basically one-legpower machines. The mini-motorscooter has added a motor and seat to make it safer and more practical.

The gains come at a price; mini- motorscooters range from 495,000 won to 770,000 won. In Korea there are two basic kinds -Tami and Rhino. The latter is shaped more like a motorized snowboard with four wheels and no handlebars.

Despite the rather steep price, many people, from students to office workers, favor this upgraded version of kick-boards. "Even a 61-year-old recently came to the shop and bought one for himself," said Lee Chan-gyu, who works at Jinyang, a shop specializing in mini motorscooters in Chungmuro. While kickboards are designed for more leisurely transport, mini-motorscooters are a serious means of transportation. You need to have a license to drive a mini-motorscooter, the same as a "real" motorbike.

A 22-year-old college student, riding his mini-motorscooter through Apgujeoung subway station, remarked, "I love to ride mini- motorscooters while commuting from home or school to subway stations." He thinks a mini- motorbike is moderately priced considering that you don't have to pay for parking.

Young and old alike have formed dozens of clubs, both online and in the real world, to share their interest. Although they come from all walks of life, one thing is certain: When their clubs meet, no members come by car.



by Chun Su-jin

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