South Korea

South Korean taxi driver dies after setting himself on fire to protest ride-sharing app

  • The driver self-immolated in front of the national parliament building in Seoul after complaining about the carpooling service developed by Kakao
PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2018, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2018, 10:55am

A South Korean taxi driver set himself alight on Monday in protest at an Uber-like ride-sharing service being introduced by the country’s largest mobile chat app.

The 57-year-old driver, surnamed Choi, died of his injuries.

South Korean taxi drivers have angrily protested against KakaoTalk’s carpooling service, saying it threatens their jobs and livelihoods.

US giant Uber has only a minimal presence in the country, offering only taxi- and licensed-hire vehicle hailing after closing its main ride-sharing service in 2015 in the face of an extensive backlash from drivers. But Kakao is used by more than 80 per cent of South Koreans, and in recent months tens of thousands of taxi drivers have held mass rallies in Seoul to condemn its upcoming carpooling service, which is due to launch next week.

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Choi set himself alight in front of the national parliament in Seoul after complaining about the carpooling service, according to the police and Yonhap news agency.

He had told another taxi driver he wanted to set himself on fire “because of the Kakao carpool”, Yonhap news agency quoted the man as saying. He poured fuel over himself while sitting in his vehicle and set himself alight, police said. He was taken to hospital but died hours later.

Choi was a leader of the union branch at his firm in Seoul.