Taxi Driver Sets Himself on Fire In Protest Against Ridesharing Services (South Korea)

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SEOUL, South Korea — Angry mobs, protests, and rallies. It has recently become a familiar sight on the streets of South Korea. These are the frustrated taxi drivers who came together to fight for one thing: to get rid of ridesharing services. They will do whatever it takes to keep their industry alive – even if it meant sacrificing their lives.

The incident took place yesterday at around 3:19 a.m. local time. The 76-year-old cab driver identified only by his surname Ahn, set himself alight on the sidewalk near Seoul Plaza. It was believed to be as a form of protest against the introduction of ridesharing services, according to police.

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Emergency respondents immediately took him to the hospital where he died from his injuries.

Before the incident, Ahn has previously participated in protests against the adoption of ride-sharing services by the taxi-hailing app operators. A representative for a local taxi association claimed that he was very vocal with his dismay towards ride-hailing services.

According to several reports, this is not the first time that such case happened in South Korea. In December of last year, a 57-year-old cab driver burned himself to death near the building of National Assembly for the same reason. A month later, another taxi driver died doing the same.

Following the second death, Kakao Mobility temporarily stopped the test operation of its ride-sharing services. The company attempted to find an alternative with taxi associations.

In February, another taxi driver set his vehicle alight and drove into the parliamentary building. The 62-year-old man suffered burns, but fortunately he survived.

Shortly after Ahn’s death, thousands of taxi drivers gathered at Gwanghwamun Square calling for the permanent ban of a new ride-hailing service Tada.

Taxi drivers hold a rally at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul on May 15, 2019, to protest against ride-sharing service providers.

The protest’s organizers offered their condolences to their fallen colleague. “We will make all-out efforts to fight to the end, betting the fate of about 250,000 taxi drivers on (the campaign to deter shared mobility).”

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