Taxi driver burns himself over Kakao’s plan

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Taxi driver burns himself over Kakao’s plan


Police investigators examine the taxi where a driver set himself on fire near the National Assembly in Seoul Monday. [NEWS1]

A Seoul taxi driver died after setting himself on fire in front of the National Assembly in western Seoul on Monday to protest the planned launch of a ride-sharing service by local IT company Kakao.

The driver, identified only as a 57-year-old surnamed Choi, sprinkled flammable materials on his body inside his car and burned himself to death in front of the Assembly’s entrance at around 2 p.m.

Choi was rushed by police and firefighters to a nearby hospital, but died at 2:49 p.m.

According to his acquaintances and police, the driver killed himself to oppose Kakao’s plan to launch a commercial carpool service in South Korea.

Choi reportedly notified his acquaintances of his self-immolation plan beforehand.

The incident occurred as Kakao launched a commercial carpool service on a trial basis on Friday ahead of its formal launch slated for Dec. 17.

In late November, tens of thousands of taxi drivers staged a protest rally near the National Assembly against Kakao’s commercial carpool service, calling for the swift passage of a revised bill that would ban its entry onto the market.

Members affiliated with four taxi industry associations and labor groups joined the demonstrations.

The rally was their second massive protest following a nationwide work stoppage and demonstrations by around 60,000 taxi drivers on Oct. 18.

They oppose the planned launch of Kakao T Carpool, a ride-sharing service designed to connect ordinary drivers to passengers during the morning and evening rush hours. Taxi drivers claim the tech company’s service will kill the taxi industry.

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